Page last updated at 17:39 GMT, Saturday, 6 December 2008

Ledger honoured in home country

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger played the villainous Joker in The Dark Knight

The late Australian actor Heath Ledger has been posthumously honoured with one of his country's top film awards.

Ledger was granted the Australian Film Institute's (AFI) international award for best actor for playing The Joker in the Batman movie, The Dark Knight.

Guests at the awards ceremony in Melbourne's Princess Theatre gave Ledger a standing ovation.

The 28-year-old actor died in January of an accidental overdose of painkillers and other medicines.

His sister Kate accepted the award, accompanied by her parents.

"It has been without a doubt the most difficult year, losing such a loved family member," she said.

"We are so proud of him and humbly accept this award on behalf of his beautiful daughter [Matilda], who we will cherish forever."

The AFI, celebrating its 50th annual award ceremony, paid tribute to Ledger, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role as a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain in 2005.

"He was the untamed spirit many of us wish we could be. May the legend live on," said an AFI tribute.

Cate Blanchett won the equivalent award for women for her role in Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

Black Balloon, a drama about a teenage boy learning to live with an autistic brother, won the award for best film.

The film, which opens in the United States this month, also saw Luke Ford and Toni Collette win the awards for best supporting actor and actress.

Its director and co-writer Elissa Down won the awards for best direction and original screenplay.

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