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Matthew Warchus’ ‘Pride’ Wins Top Prize at British Independent Film Awards

Benedict Cumberbatch picks up Variety Award at BIFAs

LONDON — Gay rights drama “Pride” won the award for British independent film, beating “’71,” “Calvary,” “Mr Turner” and “The Imitation Game,” at the 17th Moet British Independent Film Awards Sunday at Old Billingsgate in London.

The award for director went to Yann Demange for Northern Ireland-set thriller “’71,” outflanking John Michael McDonagh for “Calvary,” Lenny Abrahamson for “Frank,” Matthew Warchus for “Pride” and Mike Leigh for “Mr Turner.”

The victor in the actor category was Brendan Gleeson for “Calvary,” about a tough-minded Irish priest marked for death by one of his parishioners. He was competing with Asa Butterfield for “X+Y,” Benedict Cumberbatch for “The Imitation Game,” Jack O’Connell for “’71” and Timothy Spall for “Mr Turner.”

Gleeson paid tribute to the producers “who have to try to make independent film when it is almost impossible for people to risk commercially what is required artistically.”

Cumberbatch was the recipient of the Variety Award, which recognizes an actor, director, writer or producer who has helped to shine the international spotlight on the U.K. Keira Knightley, a best actress nominee for “The Imitation Game,” handed him his award.

In his speech, Cumberbatch said the award was premature “given the output and standard of previous recipients,” but added that it would inspire him “to work harder to feel like I’ve deserved it, and that won’t really be difficult because I love my job, I love my industry, I love the people I get to work with, a lot of whom are in this room.”

Emma Thompson picked up the Richard Harris Award for outstanding contribution by an actor to British film. She said she had met Harris once and found they shared a devotion and commitment to alcohol. She jokingly confessed: “I have been with studios. I haven’t enjoyed it. I have tried not to get sucked in… I have done many things for money and I am sorry.”

The winner of the actress honor was Gugu Mbatha-Raw for Amma Asante’s “Belle,” which is inspired by the true story of a mixed-race girl raised as an aristocratic lady in England around the time of the abolition of slavery. Other nominees were Alicia Vikander for “Testament of Youth,” Cheng Pei Pei for “Lilting,” Knightley for “The Imitation Game” and Sameena Jabeen Ahmed for “Catch Me Daddy.”

Mbatha-Raw said: “It has just been such a special experience this job, this story showing a period of history that we have seen so frequently on the screen, but to be able to see it from the perspective of a woman of color in the 1780s, in the Jane Austen era, which is part of our cultural heritage.”

The winner of the award for international independent film went to Richard Linklater’s Oscar contender “Boyhood.” Picking up his trophy, Linklater devoted the award to the memory of the late Lindsay Anderson, director of “If” and “O Lucky Man!”

“Frank” writers Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan took the screenplay prize, ahead of Graham Moore for “The Imitation Game,” Gregory Burke for “’71,” John Michael McDonagh for “Calvary” and Stephen Beresford for “Pride.”

Imelda Staunton won the supporting actress contest for Matthew Warchus’ “Pride,” a feel-good, ’80s-set drama about gay rights activists who join forces with striking coal miners. The supporting actor award went to the film’s Andrew Scott.

The Douglas Hickox Award for debut director was picked up by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard for Nick Cave documentary “20,000 Days on Earth.” The other nominees were Daniel Wolfe and Matthew Wolfe for “Catch Me Daddy,” Hong Khaou for “Lilting,” Morgan Matthews for “X+Y” and Yann Demange for “ ’71.”

The documentary award went to “Next Goal Wins,” a crowdpleaser about the world’s worst international soccer team, directed by Mike Brett and Steve Jamison.

The award for most promising newcomer went to actress Sameena Jabeen Ahmed, the star of Daniel Wolfe’s thriller “Catch Me Daddy,” which tracks the doomed attempts of a British Asian teen runaway to escape the long arm of her violently protective family. Helen Mirren, who presented the award, said the BIFAs were the “beating heart” of the British film industry.

The Special Jury Prize went to “Deliverance” and “Hope and Glory” director John Boorman. The jury also paid tribute to producer Chris Collins. Technical achievement winner was Stephen Rennicks for the music for Lenny Abrahamson’s musical comedy “Frank,” which stars Michael Fassbender.

The honor for achievement in production was picked up by Guy Myhill’s coming-of-age drama “The Goob,” which played at Venice. The Raindance Award was taken by “Luna,” and “The Karman Line” won the prize for British Short.

Guests who attended included acting nominees Vikander and Spall; Mark Strong and Charles Dance, who both appear in “The Imitation Game”; Maxine Peake, who appears in “The Theory of Everything”; Mike Leigh, a nominee for director for “Mr Turner”; Stanley Tucci, a BIFA jury member and a thesp in “The Hunger Games”; John Boorman; and actor Jared Harris.

“The Inbetweeners” star Simon Bird hosted the event.

17TH MOET BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM AWARDS – WINNERS AND NOMINEES
BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM
Winner: Pride
’71
Calvary
Mr Turner
The Imitation Game

INTERNATIONAL INDEPENDENT FILM
Winner: Boyhood
Blue Ruin
Fruitvale Station
Ida
The Babadook

DIRECTOR
Winner: Yann Demange – ’71
John Michael McDonagh – Calvary
Lenny Abrahamson – Frank
Matthew Warchus – Pride
Mike Leigh – Mr Turner

THE DOUGLAS HICKOX AWARD FOR DEBUT DIRECTOR
Winner: Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard – 20,000 Days on Earth
Daniel Wolfe, Matthew Wolfe – Catch Me Daddy
Hong Khaou – Lilting
Morgan Matthews – X+Y
Yann Demange – ’71

SCREENPLAY
Winner: Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan – Frank
Graham Moore – The Imitation Game
Gregory Burke – ’71
John Michael McDonagh – Calvary
Stephen Beresford – Pride

ACTRESS
Winner: Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Belle
Alicia Vikander – Testament of Youth
Cheng Pei Pei – Lilting
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Sameena Jabeen Ahmed – Catch Me Daddy

ACTOR
Winner: Brendan Gleeson – Calvary
Asa Butterfield – X+Y
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Jack O’Connell – ’71
Timothy Spall – Mr Turner

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Winner: Imelda Staunton – Pride
Dorothy Atkinson – Mr Turner
Maggie Gyllenhaal – Frank
Sally Hawkins – X+Y
Sienna Guillory – The Goob

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Winner: Andrew Scott – Pride
Ben Schnetzer – Pride
Michael Fassbender – Frank
Rafe Spall – X+Y
Sean Harris – ‘71

MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER
Winner: Sameena Jabeen Ahmed – Catch Me Daddy
Ben Schnetzer – Pride
Cara Delevingne – The Face of An Angel
Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Belle
Liam Walpole – The Goob

ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION
Winner: The Goob
’71
20,000 Days on Earth
Catch Me Daddy
Lilting

TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT
Winner: Stephen Rennicks – Music – Frank
Chris Wyatt – Editing – ’71
Dick Pope – Cinematography – Mr Turner
Robbie Ryan – Cinematography – Catch Me Daddy
Tat Radcliffe – Cinematography – ’71

DOCUMENTARY
Winner: Next Goal Wins
20,000 Days on Earth
Night Will Fall
The Possibilities Are Endless
Virunga

THE RAINDANCE AWARD
Winner: Luna
Flim: The Movie…
Gregor
Keeping Rosy
The Beat Beneath My Feet

BRITISH SHORT
Winner: The Kármán Line
Crocodile
Emotional Fusebox
Keeping Up With The Joneses
Slap

THE RICHARD HARRIS AWARD (for outstanding contribution by an actor to British Film)
Emma Thompson

THE VARIETY AWARD
Benedict Cumberbatch

THE SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
John Boorman

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