'Wonderland' gets best nod, 'Hilary' nabs two

LONDON — The second annual British Independent Film Awards trotted out American and local luminaries Thursday night to celebrate and promote Brit pics.

Timed with the informal London Screenings market and newly backed by title sponsor Rover cars, the BIFAs are fast becoming a prestige event. Anjelica Huston, Diana Ross and others presented 11 BIFAs and two honorary awards.

Michael Winterbottom’s London drama “Wonderland” took top honors as Best British Independent Film. Thesp nods went to Ian McKellen for “Gods and Monsters,” financed with Brit coin, and Emily Watson for her portrayal of Hilary DuPre in “Hilary and Jackie,” the only pic to win two awards.

“Hilary and Jackie” helmer Anand Tucker nabbed Best Director. “Bloody hell, and Diana Ross as well!” enthused Tucker as Ross presented him with his award.

Huston feted director Nicholas Roeg, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The awarding of a special prize for dedication to the industry to Simon Perry, head of British Screen Finance, hit a resounding chord in the banquet room. Perry deferred his honors to British Screen, while blasting the growing bureaucratization of British film funding with the creation of the new Film Council.

Helmer Lynne Ramsey picked up the Douglas Hickox Award for best debut feature (Cannes entry “Ratcatcher”) and Lara Belmont collected the Best Newcomer prize for her perf in Tim Roth’s “The War Zone.”

Screenplay prize went to Ayub Khan Din for Miramax pickup “East Is East,” while Production Achievement kudos went to “Human Traffic,” another Miramax acquisition.

Pedro Almodovar’s “All About My Mother” won the foreign-language film category and Todd Solondz’s “Happiness” was awarded the English-lingo foreign film prize.

Producer Simon Channing-Williams nabbed the producer of the year award.

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