‘Millionaire’ strikes gold at BIFAs

Boyle pic, 'Hunger' win three awards each

Danny Boyle’s Mumbai-set thriller “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Hunger,” Steve McQueen’s account of a jailed Irish Republican Army member’s hunger strike in the 1970s, each won three honors at the British Independent Film Awards, which were handed out over dinner at London’s Old Billingsgate Market on Sunday evening.

“Slumdog,” which has been generating frenzied buzz since it world preemed at the Telluride Film Festival, scooped the top two prizes on the night — British indie film and director for Danny Boyle (“Trainspotting”). The other “Slumdog” nod was for Dev Patel, who took the newcomer prize for his arresting turn as a street kid who manages to win the Indian version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

Brit visual artist-turned-feature helmer McQueen nabbed the Douglas Hickox award for debut director. Other “Hunger” wins were for actor Michael Fassbender, who plays real-life Republican leader Bobby Sands in the gritty pic, and cinematographer Sean Bobbitt (technical achievement category).

Mike Leigh’s cheerful north London-set comedy “Happy-Go-Lucky” took two BIFAs, with Eddie Marsan and Alexis Zegerman feted in the supporting actor and actress categories, respectively. The relatively unheralded Zegerman’s triumph was one of the evening’s surprises.

Also on the night, American thesp Vera Farmiga pocketed the actress kudos for “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” James Marsh’s death-defying “Man on Wire” snatched the doc nod, and genre-busting Israeli animated documentary “Waltz With Bashir” danced away with foreign film kudos. In the other main prizes, “The Escapist” was feted for achievement in production and Martin McDonagh collected the screenplay award for “In Bruges.”

As previously announced, the Variety Award for bringing the international spotlight to the British film industry was awarded to “Frost/Nixon” topliner Michael Sheen. And David Thewlis bagged the Richard Harris Award for contribution by an actor.

It wasn’t a great night for director Eran Creevy’s low-budget “Shifty,” about 24 hours in the life of a crack dealer, which entered the race with five noms but went home empty-handed.

And the winners are:

BEST BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM
“Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST DIRECTOR
Danny Boyle – “Slumdog Millionaire”

THE DOUGLAS HICKOX AWARD [BEST DEBUT DIRECTOR]
Steve McQueen – “Hunger”

BEST SCREENPLAY
Martin McDonagh – “In Bruges”

BEST ACTRESS
Vera Farmiga – “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”

BEST ACTOR
Michael Fassbender – “Hunger”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Alexis Zegerman – “Happy-Go-Lucky”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Eddie Marsan – “Happy-Go-Lucky”

MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER
Dev Patel – “Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION
“The Escapist”

RAINDANCE AWARD
Zebra Crossings

BEST TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT
Cinematography – Sean Bobbitt – “Hunger”

BEST DOCUMENTARY
“Man on Wire”

BEST BRITISH SHORT
“Soft”

BEST FOREIGN FILM
“Waltz with Bashir”

THE RICHARD HARRIS AWARD (for Outstanding Contribution to British Film)
David Thewlis

THE VARIETY AWARD
Michael Sheen

THE SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
Joe Dunton

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