"12 Years a Slave", by British director Steve McQueen with
Hollywood's Brad Pitt as a producer, had been tipped as the
night's major winner and also won Best Actor for Chiwetel
Ejiofor as a man tricked and sold into slavery in the pre-Civil
War United States.
But "Gravity", starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, took
home six prizes from its 11 nominations, including the Best
Director prize for Mexican Alfonso Cuaron and the awards for
Cinematography and Outstanding British Film.
McQueen, 44, said it was horrifying that 21 million people were
still living in slavery around the world now.
"I hope that, 150 years from now, our ambivalence will not allow
another filmmaker to make this film," he told the ceremony at
London's Royal Opera House.
McQueen, a video artist as well as a director, previously won
kudos for his 2008 film "Hunger", about an IRA hunger strike in
Northern Ireland, and won Britain's top visual art award, the
Turner Prize, in 1999 for a video based on a Buster Keaton film.
Pitt, whose partner Angelina Jolie accompanied him to the
ceremony, dressed like him in a tuxedo, said he was proud of the
film, based on the real story of Solomon Northup.
"It is a story that says we are all the same, and our freedom
and dignity is everything, and that is what we are fighting
for," Pitt told a news conference.
The Hollywood power couple were among a list of stars who
descended on London for the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs),
which come two weeks before the Academy Awards and are widely
seen as indicators of Oscar success.
On the red carpet ahead of the ceremony, the most watched film
awards outside the United States, stars including Leonardo
DiCaprio, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and Britons Judi Dench and
Emma Thompson mingled with fans.
AWARD FOR MIRREN
Britain's Prince William arrived last, chatting to the crowd
gathered outside the theatre on a cold, dry evening before
heading inside to present an Academy Fellowship for outstanding
contribution to film to the British actress Helen Mirren.
[to top of second column]
Mirren, 68, won an Oscar for playing his grandmother Queen Elizabeth
in the 2006 film "The Queen".
Bookmakers had expected "12 Years a Slave" to be the
big winner ahead of "Gravity", "American Hustle", the Somali pirate
thriller "Captain Phillips" and the British drama "Philomena",
starring Judi Dench as an Irish woman hunting for the son she had
given up for adoption.
Vying for the Best Actor prize alongside Ejiofor
were Christian Bale in "American Hustle", Bruce Dern in "Nebraska",
DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese's tale of American greed "The Wolf of
Wall Street", and Tom Hanks in "Captain Phillips".
DiCaprio said it had taken seven years and a lot of luck to get "The
Wolf of Wall Street" to the big screens.
"This is the second film in my career that I really got behind and
did everything I could to get made. This is a very proud moment for
me," he said.
The Best Actress award went to Australian Cate
Blanchett for playing a riches-to-rags socialite in Woody Allen's
tragicomedy "Blue Jasmine". She beat Dench, Amy Adams from "American
Hustle", Emma Thompson in "Saving Mr. Banks" and Bullock in
Blanchett, 44, dedicated her award to the actor Philip Seymour
Hoffman, who died of an apparent drugs overdose two weeks ago.
Barkhad Abdi was named Best Supporting Actor for his role in
"Captain Phillips" and the award for Best Supporting Actress went to
Jennifer Lawrence in "American Hustle", a con-artist caper set in
The Italian movie "The Great Beauty" won the award for Film Not in
the English Language, while the documentary prize went to "The Act
of Killing" by Joshua Oppenheimer.
(Editing by Andrew Heavens and Kevin
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