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Saturday, 7 December, 2002, 23:43 GMT
Winslet named Europe's favourite
Scene from Iris
Iris followed the life of writer Iris Murdoch
Kate Winslet has been named Europe's favourite actress at a top awards ceremony.

The 27-year-old British star took the people's choice prize as best actress, voted for by moviegoers, for her role in Iris at the European Film Awards held in Rome.

Kate Winslet
Winslet won plaudits for her performance as a young Iris

But the toast of the evening was Spanish film-maker Pedro Almodovar who received three prizes while his latest offering Hable Con Ella (Talk to Her) swept the board, taking five in all, including best film.

Winslet paid tribute to her co-star, Dame Judi Dench, whom she beat to the prize.

In Iris, Winslet played a young Iris Murdoch, while Dame Judi took on the role of the writer as she grew old.

In a taped acceptance speech, Winslet told guests at Rome's Teatro dell'Opera: "It's such an honour to be voted for by people who go to the movies.

"I'm deeply flattered to receive this award for my performance in Iris and I feel deeply blessed to have worked with Judi Dench.

"If it wasn't for her performance, I think mine may have been lost."

'Special moment'

Titanic star Winslet, who dates film-maker Sam Mendes, also thanked the director of Iris, Sir Richard Eyre, for bringing out her performance.

At the black tie awards ceremony director Ken Loach was among the British winners as he landed the European critics' prize for Sweet Sixteen.

Loach, whose films include Cathy Come Home, Kes and My Name Is Joe, said: "Showing your film to the critics is like a lamppost awaiting the approaching dogs.

Pedro Almodovar
Almodovar has been criticised by animal rights campaigners
"I'd like to say to the critics thank-you for this but please forget that you gave it to me."

Almodovar's awards included a pair of best director prizes - one from the judges, and one from moviegoers - and best screenwriter.

The Oscar-winning movie-maker said: "I'm really grateful to receive all the prizes you want to give me, but it's true that this award, voted by the audience, is a very special moment.

"Without the audience, I'm really nothing."

His tale of friendship which develops between a nurse and a writer at a clinic where both their loved ones lie in comas helped him beat British directors Loach and Mike Leigh to the judges' best director prize.

At previous award ceremonies Almodovar has come under fire from animal rights activists over the deaths of four bulls during the making of the film.

The judges' choice for best actor was Italian Sergio Castellito, star of Bella Martha and L'Ora di Religione.

The entire ensemble cast of the French murder mystery 8 Femmes took the best actress title, beating Britain's Samantha Morton for her lauded performance in Morvern Callar.

See also:

24 Feb 02 | Entertainment
14 Jan 02 | Entertainment
08 Jul 02 | Entertainment
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