LONDON, April 23 -- Local favorite 'Four Weddings and a Funeral' dominated the British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards Sunday with five top honors, including best film, best director and best actor. The British academy favored the humerous British love story starring Hugh Grant and Andie McDowell over America's 'Forrest Gump,' the sentimental tale starring Tom Hanks that last month dominated the U.S. Academy Awards with six Oscars. Members of the British entertainment establishment had been criticized by local filmmakers in the past for doing too little to promote local talent and turning the BAFTA awards into a reflection of Hollywood tastes, but this year the academy clearly voted local. In addition to the vote of the academy for 'Four Weddings' as best film, Mike Newell was named best director and British heartthrob Grant won the best actor award for his role as frequent wedding guest but never bridegroom. Grant thanked the academy for being 'very kind...and very loyal' and apologized to the other nominees including John Travolta. 'He should realize that the BAFTAs are a little bit of flag waving,' Grant said. Kristin Scott Thomas was named best supporting actress for playing the seemingly cold and eternally single Fiona, who was secretly in love with Grant's character in 'Four Weddings.' Among those she defeated was Hollywood veteran Sally Field, who was nominated for her role as Forrest Gump's mother. The movie also won a public vote for most popular film. 'Forrest Gump' was shut out of the major BAFTA awards despite eight nominations, but American films were represented with Director Quentin Tarantino's dark, quirky and violently funny 'Pulp Fiction' winning two honors.
The controversial film won best screenplay for Tarantino and Roger Avary's interlocking short stories and best supporting actor for Samuel Jackson's role as a bible-quoting hit-man. Jackson's award was accepted by Travolta, who was nominated as best actor for his comeback role in the film. Susan Sarandon won the BAFTA award as best actress for her role as a young boy's determined lawyer in 'The Client.' The award for best film not in the English language went to 'To Live,' which aims to depiict the triumph of the human spirit by following the story of one Chinese family over several decades. Chiu Fu Sheng and Zhang Zimou's film has not been yet been allowed in China. A special BAFTA award for 'outstanding British film,' designed to promote up-and-coming local talent, went to 'Shallow Grave,' a Scottish black comedy about three young professionals who find themselves sharing an apartment with a dead man and a suitcase full of cash. ------
Along with the film awards, in which voting included movies made in Hollywood and elsewhere as well as Britain, BAFTA also presented television honors that are limited to British nominees. The police psychologist thriller 'Cracker' won three awards, including most popular TV program in a public vote, best drama in the academy voting and best television actor for Robbie Coltrane's portrayal of the gritty title role. Juliet Aubrey won as best television actress for her role in 'Middlemarch' and Joanna Lumley won for best comedy performance in 'Absolutely Fabulous.' Britain's Independent Television Network won the award for TV news for its coverage of last year's crisis in Rwanda. Most of the winning coverage team was back in the African country Sunday covering the latest massacre in a refugee camp.