Colin Firth and His 'King's Speech' Win Big at British Independent Film Awards

Colin Firth

Hosted by James Nesbitt, Dec. 5 event included awards to Helena Bonham Carter, Gareth Edwards and "Speech" actor Geoffrey Rush and writer David Seidler.

LONDON -- Colin Firth and his turn in The King's Speech did not fall on deaf ears, striding off with two of the top awards at this year's British Independent Film Awards.

Firth picked up the evening's best actor nod for his turn while the film secured the best British independent movie award. He thanked the soon to close U.K. Film Council for "making the whole thing happen."

And the movie's royal success at the BIFAs also saw Helena Bonham Carter stroll away with the best supporting actress award. On an evening in which she also picked up the Richard Harris Award for outstanding contribution by an actor to British film, Bonham Carter spent some considerable time at the podium. Picking up her gong for her turn in Speech, Carter noted it showed what bad taste in films she had because she initially turned the role down. She also informed the huge gathering of indie players that her boyfriend -- director Tim Burton -- wasn't there because he is currently having some kidney stones removed. "We've had two children and I hope by the end of the evening we'll have two kidney stones to go with them," the ever eccentric Bonham Carter laughed.

Geoffrey Rush was not to miss out on the right royal party, securing the best supporting actor plaudits while King's Speech writer David Seidler also talked his way to the event's best screenplay nod. Unfortunately for the organizers, neither Seidler or Rush could be there. One of the producers joked that Seidler was chained to his laptop writing "the next hit" while Rush is currently on stage in Melbourne in an adaptation of Gogol's Diary of a Madman. Director Tom Hooper picked up Rush's nod on his behalf and promised to deliver it to him in person when he travels to Australia later this week.

But the movie didn't quite sweep the BIFA board, with Gareth Edwards taking home the best director nod for Monsters, and the best technical achievement plaudit for his own efforts with the special effects in the low budget movie. Edwards' movie also picked up best achievement in production on the night. Edwards was clearly taken aback to have won. He even donned a jacket to pick up his director nod, declaring that all his life since he was a little boy, he'd "dreamed of being a director," and noting that to have an award that said his name on it alongside director was "truly special."

Carey Mulligan, the starlet whose career is rocketing skywards, continued picking up awards, taking home best actress for her role in Never Let Me Go. She suggested sharing the award with all her fellow nominees before thanking the film's backers, actors and crew. "Let's get drunk," she said, "after the next awards of course."

Upcoming filmmaker Clio Barnard followed her success at the London Film Festival awards with the Douglas Hickox Award for best debut director for The Arbor.

The British film industry turned out in force Sunday evening for this year's awards, delighted to find the evening was sponsored by champagne house Moet & Chandon.

The 13th edition of the BIFAs, regarded by most as an edgier, less stuffy precursor to the British Academy Film and Television movie awards, were dished out at a ceremony held at Old Billingsgate market in London, hosted by James Nesbitt.

BIFA founder Elliot Grove noted that the range of movies competing for the independent nods, "prove that, in Britain at least, lack of money has done nothing to hamper quality or creativity."

Joanne Froggatt scored the most promising newcomer for her outing in In Our Name while Enemies of the People and Son Of Babylon took home the best documentary and Raindance award, respectively.

The Festival de Cannes selection A Prophet picked up best foreign film while Liam Neeson was on hand to accept an award for his career. Uber British agent Jenne Casarotto took home the special jury prize. Her client list over more than 30 years reads like a Who's Who of U.K. talent and includes Terry Gilliam, Stephen Frears, Lynne Ramsay and Lone Scherfig.

Casarotto noted agents should take a back seat at awards but said that the reason for carrying on fighting to make independent films was because they are a source of genuine creativity.


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