"The Hurt Locker" sweeps "Avatar" aside at BAFTAs

Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:18pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Iraq war drama "The Hurt Locker" swept 3-D blockbuster "Avatar" aside at the BAFTA British film awards on Sunday, picking up best film and best director among its six prizes and laying down a marker for the Oscars.

The movies, directed by Kathryn Bigelow and ex-husband James Cameron respectively, were both nominated for eight awards at the BAFTAs, and also lead the field heading into next month's Academy Awards with nine nominations apiece.

Bigelow became the first woman to win the best director BAFTA, and said she hoped she would not be the last.

"Women's struggle for equity is a constant struggle, so if this can be a beacon of light, then wonderful," she told reporters backstage after receiving her BAFTA in the gilded splendor of London's Royal Opera House.

Cameron was in the audience, and Avatar, the biggest box office hit in history, won just two awards -- production design and special visual effects. Bigelow played down talk of rivalry between the former spouses.

"It's been a real honor," she said. "Specifically with Jim, we're very good friends. I think we're proud of each other and I think that's there for a long time."

The Hurt Locker, whose budget was dwarfed by that of Avatar as was its box office takings, follows a bomb disposal unit in Iraq, and captures the tension and danger as they seek to defuse bombs in cars, under dirt and strapped to innocent civilians.

"I think we all sensed an amazing responsibility to honor the people in the film and honor a scriptwriter who risked his life to capture the tragedy and chaos of war," Bigelow said.   Continued...

<p>U.S. actress Anna Kendrick arrives at the British Academy Of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards ceremony at the Royal Opera House in London February 21, 2010. REUTERS/Toby Melville</p>