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Last Updated: Monday, 6 March 2006, 10:22 GMT
UK stars shine at Academy Awards
Rachel Weisz

Actress Rachel Weisz and animated heroes Wallace and Gromit were among the big UK winners at the 2006 Oscars.

Weisz, 34, won the best supporting actress Oscar for her role in UK thriller The Constant Gardener.

Nick Park earned his fourth Oscar for his feature film outing for Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

But there was no Oscar glory for best actress nominees Dame Judi Dench and Keira Knightley, who lost out to Walk the Line's Reese Witherspoon.

Accepting her award, Weisz paid tribute to Constant Gardener director Fernando Meirelles, describing him as "a director brimming over with such humanity" and author John le Carre "who wrote this unflinching, angry story".

"He really paid tribute to the people who are willing to risk their own lives to fight injustice," said Weisz, who is seven months pregnant. "They are greater men and women than I."

Nick Park (l) and Steve Box
The Bristol-based pair wore matching bow ties

Backstage, Nick Park and Steve Box spoke of their delight at winning the animation award.

"From the earliest days we wanted to make movies. For Wallace and Gromit actually to come here and win, it's just amazing."

The pair behind the award-winning Aardman Animations in Bristol, wore matching oversize bow ties to receive their award, and added mini-versions to their Oscar statuettes.

"My wife made these when we were over here waiting. It was kind of a last minute idea," explained Box.

"We were very nervous about it because we know how sacred the Oscars are. So we thought, what the heck."

Black comedy

There was also UK success in the short film category with Martin McDonagh's Six Shooter picking up an Oscar.

The black comedy, backed by the UK's Film Four Lab and the Irish Film Board, follows a man who takes a train journey on the day his wife dies and encounters an unusual fellow passenger.

"I'd just like to thank everybody who was involved in the film, especially Brendan Gleeson and Ruaidhri Conroy," said McDonagh.

"And Ruaidhri, I'm sorry that you couldn't be here tonight, but I hope next time they let you into the country."

Actor Conroy spent 22 hours in immigration and was sent home because of a "passport infringement", producer Kenton Allen told BBC Radio Five Live.

Presley Chweneyagae as Tstosi
Actor Presley Chweneyagae plays the troubled Tsotsi

The UK also had a hand in the best foreign film winner, Tsotsi.

The producer of the South African film was British film-maker Peter Fudakowski.

In 2003, Fudakowski commissioned director Gavin Hood to adapt Athol Fugard's novel, Tsotsi, as a feature film.

Together with his wife Henrietta who worked closely with Hood as script editor, they produced Tsotsi in South Africa with funding from the UK Film & TV Production Company and several South African companies.

Other films he has produced include Piccadilly Jim starring Brenda Blethyn, Tom Wilkinson and Sam Rockwell and Keeping Mum, with Rowan Atkinson, Kristin Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith.


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