Tyrannosaur, Paddy Considine's gripping and gruelling study of rage, has become the biggest winner at the 14th British Independent Film Awards.
Starring Peter Mullan as a drinking, gambling, washed-up widower, it was surprise winner of the best film award from a particularly strong shortlist that included Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Shame, Senna and We Need to Talk About Kevin.
It is not a first date movie, or rather would be one for unusual people. The tone is set in the first minutes when Mullan's character kicks his dog to death after he is kicked out of the bookies. While it is not easy to watch, critics have showered the film with praise.
Considine, best known as an actor, was given the Douglas Hickox award for best debut director. The film's hat trick of prizes was completed by Olivia Colman – who won best actress for her portrayal of Hannah, a charity shop manager who befriends Mullan's character.
Best actor was Michael Fassbender for his lead role in Shame, Steve McQueen's second feature film after Hunger. The award joins his best actor prize from the Venice film festival for his portrayal of a desperately unhappy sex addict. Fassbender, who spends much of the film naked, beat strong competition that included Mullan, Gary Oldman, Neil Maskell and Brendan Gleeson.
Lynne Ramsay won best director for We Need to Talk About Kevin, based on Lionel Shriver's 2003 novel about a school massacre. For film enthusiasts it was a welcome return to the spotlight for Ramsay who made her name with her debut feature Ratcatcher in 1999.
There were two awards for Weekend, a film made on a tiny budget about two men who embark on a love affair which has generated considerable buzz. The unknown Cardiff actor Tom Cullen won best newcomer while the film was rewarded with best achievement in production.
Other awards at a ceremony hosted by Chris O'Dowd at Old Billingsgate in London included best supporting actress, won by Vanessa Redgrave in Coriolanus; best supporting actor, Michael Smiley for Kill List; and best screenplay, Richard Ayoade from The IT Crowd for Submarine.
The Bifas have a record of rewarding films which go on to more glamorous prize success, such as The King's Speech last year and Slumdog Millionaire in 2008, although only the most optimistic would predict such success for Tyrannosaur.
Special awards were also made to two of Britain's finest actors.
Ralph Fiennes, who this year made his directorial debut with Coriolanus, was given the Richard Harris award for outstanding contribution to British film by an actor. He follows Daniel Day-Lewis, Jim Broadbent and, last year, Helena Bonham-Carter.
Kenneth Branagh was given the Variety award for someone who has helped focus the international spotlight on the UK, a prize previously awarded to Liam Neeson, JK Rowling and Michael Caine.
The prizes were completed by Senna winning best documentary and Chalk the best British short, while Maria Djurkovic won best technical achievement for production design on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Leaving Baghdad won the Raindance award and the Iranian drama A Separation won best foreign independent film. A special jury prize was given to film financier Graham Easton.