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Hollywood stars descend on London for BAFTA awards

The UK's top film awards, the BAFTAs, have taken place in London, with the space thriller Gravity having been named best British Film. British actress Helen Mirren received a special award honoring her career.

Hollywood stars descended on London's Royal Opera House Sunday evening for the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs), hosted for the ninth time by actor Stephen Fry.

The first award of the night was for best British film, with space thriller "Gravity" beating "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," "Philomena," "Rush," "Saving Mr Banks" and "The Selfish Giant."

"Gravity" fitted that category, as it was filmed in the UK with groundbreaking visual effects made in Britain. Director Alfonso Cuaron is pictured above on the left.

The film, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, led the nominations with 11 in total, just ahead of "12 Years a Slave" and "American Hustle", each running in 10 categories.

British director Steve McQueen's unflinching "12 Years a Slave," based on a true story about a man kidnapped and sold into slavery, was the winner of best film overall.

"The biggest thing about this event is being in London town. I was born here ... I am so proud," McQueen said on the red carpet before the event.

McQueen missed out on the best director award, which instead went to Cuaron for "Gravity."

Australian Cate Blanchett claimed the best actress award for her part in Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," while the prize for best actor went to "12 Years a Slave" leading actor Chiwetel Ejiofor.

British actress Helen Mirren was presented with the British Academy Fellowship, honoring a career that has included her role as a detective in the TV series "Prime Suspect" and her Oscar-winning portrayal of Queen Elizabeth in the 2006 film "The Queen." Britain's Prince William presented the award.

The awards are seen as an indicator of success leading up to Hollywood's Oscars, which are set to take place on March 2.

hc,rc/av (Reuters, AFP)