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BIFA awards for Sherlock stars

Sherlock stars Andrew Scott and Benedict Cumberbatch were both championed at the Moet British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs) tonight.

Scott - famous for playing the Sherlock's nemesis Moriarty - was awarded the Best Supporting Actor gong for his role in Pride, the heartwarming true story of how a group of gay and lesbian activists raised money to help support the families of striking Welsh miners in the 1980s.

Meanwhile, Cumberbatch - whose film roles this year have varied from playing codebreaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game to voicing a wolf in animation Penguins of Madgascar - was honoured with the Variety Award at the star-studded ceremony at Old Billingsgate in London.

Cumberbatch missed out on the Best Actor accolade for his turn as Turing to Harry Potter star Brendan Gleeson for his performance as a troubled Catholic priest in Calvary.

Pride won the most awards of the night, also scooping Best British Independent Film and Imelda Staunton taking home Best Supporting Actress for her role as a Welsh union activist in the comedy.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw was named Best Actress for her title role in Belle, the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral, raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield who as Lord Chief Justice helped end slavery in England.

Emma Thompson was presented with the Richard Harris award for outstanding contribution by an actor to British film.

And the Special Jury Prize honoured 81-year-old director John Boorman, whose films include Deliverance, Point Blank, Excalibur and Hope and Glory.

The Best International Independent Film award went to Richard Linklater's Boyhood. The film - hotly tipped for Oscar success - was filmed over 12 years, charting a boy's life as he grows up from five to 18.

The BIFAs, created in 1998 by Raindance Film Festival founder Elliot Grove to celebrate independently funded British movie-making, began as a low-key event but have gathered momentum over the years and now regularly boast a glamorous guest list.

Cumberbatch said it was a "huge honour" to be presented with the Variety Award at the Moet British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs).

The Sherlock star said: "It's a huge honour. The past recipients have had volume and quality of their work - Kenneth Branagh, Jude Law, I think Paul Greengrass won it a couple of years ago. It's a hell of a category to be included, so I'm incredibly flattered by the fact that I am.

"I'm a huge fan of independent cinema. And as a Brit it makes you very proud. That's what it's about recognition wise.

"I'm very lucky."

The Hunger Games star Stanley Tucci attended the ceremony with his pregnant wife Felicity Blunt, sister of the actress Emily Blunt.

Tucci was on the jury for the BIFAs this year and was full if praise for British Independent cinema, and the level of government funding it receives, which he feels is lacking in America.

He said: "It's a big deal. BBC and companies like Film Four, BFI, it really makes a huge, huge difference."

Father and son Timothy Spall and Rafe Spall were proud to both be nominated for awards.

Timothy was nominated for Best Actor for his portrayal of artist JMW Turner in Mike Leigh's new film Mr Turner, while his son was up for Best Supporting Actor for X+Y about a child maths prodigy.

Rafe said: "It's an extraordinary thing. It's strange, it's weird. All of the people that are nominated are of such an amazing calibre that I'm just chuffed to be spoken of in the same breath. And to have my dad, who is not only my dad but is also my idol, is quite a moving experience actually."

Timothy said: "It's delightful. I'm very, very proud of him. He's my boy."

Accepting the Variety award on stage Cumberbatch said: "I've never been more terrified in my life."

He dedicated the gong to all the people he had worked with on independent film down to the costume designers and the caterers.

He thanked his parents and his theatre director fiancee Sophie Hunter.

Speaking backstage Cumberbatch said 2014 had been a very special year for him, both in terms of his career and his personal life.

He said: "I've obvious had the most important news of my life as far as my life goes. But that's also sort of private, I don't want to talk about that too much, but my engagement to the woman I love is obviously the most important thing of 2014 for me."

Asked about his nerves on stage at the ceremony he said: "Just imagine watching a home movie of everything you've done, in the last 10 years and some very personal stuff thrown in as well.

"Imagine watching that, and then you've got to sit there and compose yourself before getting on stage to say thank you for it.

"You feel utterly spoilt, embarrassed, overwhelmed, moved, because there are lots of people who aren't in this room who I'd have love to have shared that moment with. You feel a hot mess up there on stage."

Andrew Scott admitted he "couldn't be prouder" to win the Best Supporting Actor for Pride.

He said: "We wanted it to be a film that had an independent spirit for a mainstream audience. We wanted it to be a film that reached out to everybody and a story that reached out to everybody and let everybody know that we're not as do similar as we're sometimes led to believe.

"We're hearing reports of people clapping a the end of the movie, up and down the country and it's incredibly exciting."

The Iris actor has just been announced as starring in the new Bond film Spectre, but vowed to keep making independent movies. He said: "It's cool being in Bond. I'm so thrilled to be there. I just can't really believe I'm in that one. To be able to balance a bit of both. I'll hopefully have he opportunity to keep doing that for a while."

Accepting her Richard Harris award, Emma Thompson confessed: "I don't know who to thank. I could thank everyone I've ever worked with, but that would be tedious and pointless because most of them are dead."

She then used the opportunity to apologise to the independent film industry for working with studios. But backstage Thompson insisted that there was not a big difference between making independent and studio productions.

She mused: "Actually working on film in any situation is pretty similar. Yeah, you probably get a bigger trailer, but generally speaking, if you're working with the right sort of people - people who really want to make movies and who have got a passion for it, the road is very similar."

And she revealed, looking back at her career as her award was announced, that she had felt fulfilled. "The movies that mean the most to me are the ones I've written. Because they're so hard to write and it's such a long journey so they're the ones that ... I don't feel proud as it were, but there's a sense of fulfilment. Not pride."

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