17 Feb 2014

BAFTA awards for 12 Years a Slave

7:16 pm on 17 February 2014

The drama 12 Years a Slave has won the award for best film at Britain's leading film honours, the BAFTA's, cementing its status as a favourite for the Oscars.

Director Steve McQueen.

Director Steve McQueen. Photo: AFP

The brutal depiction of American slavery in pre-Civil War times by British director Steve McQueen was based on the true life story of Solomon Northup, a free man tricked and sold into slavery in Louisiana's plantations.

"There are 21 million people in slavery as we sit here. I hope that, 150 years from now, our ambivalence will not allow another filmmaker to make this film," Mr McQueen told the award ceremony.

Chiwetel Ejiofor took out the leading actor award at London's Royal Opera House on Sunday night for his performance in 12 Years a Slave.

Cate Blanchett.

Cate Blanchett. Photo: AFP

Gravity won outstanding British film and its director Alfonso Cuaron took out the best director award.

Cate Blanchett won the BAFTA for leading actress for the Woody Allen film Blue Jasmine. The 44-year-old actress beat four other nominees including British stars Judi Dench and Emma Thompson.

Blanchett previously won BAFTAs for The Aviator in 2005 and Elizabeth in 1999.

A week ago, Blanchett joined hundreds of mourners at the private New York funeral of Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of an apparent heroin overdose. She dedicated her win to the actor, calling him "a continual profound touchstone".

A Somali-born resident of the United States, Barkhad Abdi - who had never acted before - won Best Supporting actor for his role in the pirate film Captain Philips.

The British film awards are seen as a dry run for the Oscars which take place in Hollywood on 2 March.