LONDON (Reuters) - Low-budget Indian drama "Slumdog Millionaire" swept Britain's BAFTA film awards on Sunday winning best film, director and five other categories, giving it another boost ahead of the Oscars later this month.
Slumdog Millionaire, a British picture about a young man from the slums of Mumbai who seeks to rise from rags to riches by winning a Hindi TV game show, triumphed at the Golden Globes last month with four honours including best drama.
Slumdog director Danny Boyle gave a restrained acceptance speech, but earlier defended his film on the red carpet against criticism in India to the movie's name, which some slum dwellers find offensive, its depiction of the lives of impoverished Indians and the treatment of the cast.
He told Reuters the children in the film had been paid well and that the makers of the movie went to great lengths to make sure they would be well cared for after the film was forgotten.
"We also put in place an educational plan for the children which we are sticking to and we will be there for them long after the fuss has died down," Boyle said ahead of the awards.
Kate Winslet, a double Golden Globe winner, won the leading actress award for her role as a former concentration camp guard in "The Reader".
"I want to thank my mum and dad, who I won't look at otherwise I will burst into tears," she said at London's Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.
ROURKE AND HIS EXPLETIVES
Mickey Rourke gave an expletive-filled acceptance speech while picking up his award for leading actor for his portrayal of a lonely, washed-up professional athlete in "The Wrestler" trying to make his sporting comeback in a role that parallels the actor's own troubled life.
"Thank you to BAFTA, to Optimum Pictures to Fox Searchlight, Darren Aronofsky, he gave me a second chance after ******g up my career for 15 years," Rourke said. "It's such a pleasure to be back here out of the darkness."
The red carpet was teeming with stars on a rainy London evening. Delighted fans bayed for autographs while the paparrazi jostled for snaps of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Winslet, Rourke, Robert Downey Jr, Sharon Stone, Goldie Hawn and a host of other Hollywood and British film stars.
The awards ceremony was hosted by controversial presenter Jonathan Ross, who was recently suspended without pay from the BBC for his participation in obscene prank calls made to actor Andrew Sachs.
Ross did not disappoint fans of his off-the-cuff humour, making fun of his own speech impediment and regaling the audience with a raft of jokes pegged to the films up for awards.
"I loved The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, vividly depicting every woman's worst nightmare: as you age, your boyfriend, Brad Pitt, gets better looking," Ross said.
Pitt lost two nominations -- leading actor for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and supporting actor for his role in the Coen brothers' comedy "Burn After Reading".
The film had tied with Slumdog for 11 nominations, but won only three BAFTAs, for production design, make-up and hair as well as special visual effects.
Supporting actress went to Penelope Cruz for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", while the supporting actor award went to the late Heath Ledger for "The Dark Knight", in which he played Batman's nemesis Joker.
The Australian actor, who died last year aged 28 of an accidental prescription drugs overdose, won the same category at the Golden Globes and is tipped to win an Academy Award.
In a good night for British film, the movie "In Bruges" , directed by Martin Mcdonagh won the BAFTA for original screenplay and "The Duchess", starring Keira Knightley won for costume design.
(To read more about our entertainment news, visit our blog "Fan Fare" online at blogs.reuters.com/fanfare)
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