Peace messages ruled at last night's (22MAR03) Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California - but not everyone was taking the war in Iraq that seriously.

Host John Waters began proceedings at the 18th annual prize giving by welcoming guests in what he called "these scary times."

But then added jokingly, "Saddam Hussein? GEORGE BUSH? No one will stop me from getting my gift bag."

But other peace messages were much more serious - Elvis Costello received a standing ovation for opening the show with his anthem PEACE, LOVE + UNDERSTANDING, actor Don Cheadle read out a peace statement from the event's organisers and reality movie-maker Michael Moore used his Best Documentary award to lash out at American President George W Bush.

The Bowling For Columbine director raged, "We have a fictitious President, who was put in office with fictitious results and he's now conducting a war for fictitious reasons.

"This is absolutely insane. The lesson for the children of Columbine this week is that violence is an accepted means to resolve a conflict and it's a sad, sick and immoral lesson."

Best Supporting Actor winner DENNIS QUAID simply said, "I'd like to send out a prayer to the Iraqi people."

Meanwhile, Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal told guests, "This time I get the opportunity to tell something for you the people from the United States to do, which is, 'The only way to stop this war, is you,'" when he picked up the Best Foreign Film award for Y Tu Mama Tambien.