'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' declared big winner at the Bafta awards in a ceremony dominated by women demanding an end to harassment, abuse and inequality.

British-Irish filmmaker Martin McDonagh (L), producer Peter Czernin (2L), US actor Sam Rockwell, and British producer Graham Broadbent (R) pose with citation reader US actress Frances McDormand (2R) after receiving the award for Best Film.
British-Irish filmmaker Martin McDonagh (L), producer Peter Czernin (2L), US actor Sam Rockwell, and British producer Graham Broadbent (R) pose with citation reader US actress Frances McDormand (2R) after receiving the award for Best Film. (AFP)

Ferocious female-led tragicomedy "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" was the big winner on Sunday at the British Academy Film and Television Arts (Bafta) awards in London, where women demanding an end to harassment, abuse and inequality dominated the ceremony.

Martin McDonagh's film about a bereaved mother seeking justice won five trophies including best film, outstanding British film and best actress, for Frances McDormand.

Producer Graham Broadbent said the movie is "the story of a woman taking on the establishment and status quo."

"It seems more timely now than we could ever have imagined," he said.

Writer-director McDonagh said it was fitting, in the year of the "Time's Up" campaign, that "Three Billboards" is "a film about a woman who refuses to take any s*** anymore."

"Our film is a hopeful one in lots of ways, but it's also an angry one," McDonagh said. "As we've seen this year, sometimes anger is the only way to get people to listen and to change."

TRT World's Belle Donati has more. 

Other winners

McDonagh won the original screenplay prize for "Three Billboards," which also netted Sam Rockwell the supporting actor trophy. Allison Janney was named best supporting actress for playing ice skater Tonya Harding's domineering mother in "I, Tonya."

Guillermo del Toro won the directing prize for monster fantasy "The Shape of Water," which also took trophies for music and production design.

Gary Oldman, the favorite among bookies, won the best actor prize for playing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour."

The British prizes are considered a key indicator of likely success at Hollywood's Oscars in two weeks' time.

Awards overshadowed by allegations 

The film awards season in the United States and elsewhere has been overshadowed by the allegations of sexual harassment and abuse leveled at scores of entertainment figures since women began coming forward to accuse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein last year.

England's Old Vic Theatre has been rocked by allegations against former artistic director Kevin Spacey. London police are also investigating nine claims of sexual assault by Weinstein.

The red carpet and the auditorium at London's Royal Albert Hall were a sea of black as actresses such as Lupita Nyong'o, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lawrence and Margot Robbie eschewed colour as a statement against sexual misconduct and gender inequality.

"Time's Up" movement

Several actresses brought feminist activists as guests, and men showed solidarity with "Time's Up" lapel pins.

Ahead of the ceremony, almost 200 British women in entertainment called for an international movement to end sexual misconduct.

Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Naomie Harris, Emma Watson and Gemma Arterton were among signatories to a letter saying that 2018 should be "the year that time was up on sexual harassment and abuse."

The stars called for an end to impunity for abusers and announced a fund to support women and men battling workplace abuse, modeled on the "Time's Up" movement in the US.

Source: AP