Director Danny Boyle has paid tribute to the strength of Mumbai after his new film won the top prize at the British Independent Film awards (BIFAs).

Slumdog Millionaire, the story of a teenage boy from the slums of the Indian city who finds himself in the final of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, was named best film, with Boyle winning best director and lead actor Dev Patel taking the best newcomer prize.

And in the week in which Mumbai was hit by terrorist attacks which killed 172 people, the Trainspotting helmer professed his faith in the city's ability to rejuvenate.

"It's a city with a big heart that's been wounded this week, but it will recover," Boyle said.

"It is weird to win this at the end of what's been a terrible week. But the human spirit is dominant. They will overcome, you can bet on it."

Speaking at the awards, Sir Ben Kingsley said India was a "resilient nation" which will "survive and move forward".

Steve McQueen's Hunger, a look at the 1981 IRA hunger strikes, also claimed three prizes at the BIFAs, with McQueen rewarded for his debut film while Michael Fassbender was named best actor for his stunning portrayal of Bobby Sands.

Waltz With Bashir was named best foreign film with Man on Wire taking best documentary.

And though Sienna Miller and Keira Knightley were nominated for awards, they were beaten by less renowned actresses.

Alexis Zegerman was victorious in Miller's category, winning best supporting actress, while Vera Farmiga trounced Knightley to win best actress for The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

The major winners of the British Independent Film awards were:Best British independent film
Slumdog Millionaire

Best director
Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)

Best actor
Michael Fassbender (Hunger)

Best actress
Vera Farmiga (The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas)

Best supporting actor
Eddie Marsan (Happy-Go-Lucky)

Best supporting actress
Alexis Zegerman (Happy-Go-Lucky)

Most promising newcomer
Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire)

Best debut director
Steve McQueen (Hunger)

01/12/2008 13:56:00