Still fighting: Bradford gives John Hurt a lifetime achievement award - VIDEO

VETERAN actor John Hurt said today he would continue his "constant fight" to make audiences passionate about independent films rather than Hollywood blockbusters.

The 70-year-old actor, who has starred in films such as Alien, The Elephant Man and Midnight Express, was speaking at the Bradford International Film Festival, where he was given an Lifetime Achievement Award, and said such events were integral to the world of film.

He said: "The independent film needs festivals to be able to advertise it, in one sense, and secondly to create an atmosphere in which we can begin to understand what our culture is and hopefully - eventually - educate enough people so that we have a real film-understanding audience that is going to appreciate what this wonderful turbulent island is all about, rather than have to rely on Hollywood films."

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Mr Hurt, who has also starred in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, said he was not ruling out the importance of large-scale studio films or any other foreign works, but wished the balance was more even.

"It's been my constant fight all my life," he said.

"All you can do is prepare the ground. You can't just say this is how it ought to be because you've got to create a public that actually enjoys it - and therein lies the difficulties."

Talking about the dominance of Hollywood films such as the recent box office record-breaker Avatar, he said he would like to return to principles when large films had just the big cinema franchises, leaving others open for smaller works.

He added: "Of course it hasn't worked out that way because of avarice and greed and (it's) too fierce."

Mr Hurt also said he would never stop making films while he still felt inspired by his work.

"I can't see any other reason to be alive unless you're taking an active interest in your area of life," he said.

"If life was to be just to stop and watch television - I couldn't contemplate that as being worthwhile at all."

Tony Earnshaw, Bradford Film Festival artistic director, said selecting Mr Hurt for the lifetime achievement award was an obvious decision.

He said: "He's worked with pretty much everybody, he's never repeated himself in film and he's a character actor.

"He's a movie star but he's not just a movie star - in other words he doesn't necessarily give the same performance as himself in every movie and that's the key thing for me.

"John is a character actor par excellence."

Ten films, representing the very best work spanning almost 50 years, will play during the 11-day run of the festival, from March 18 to 28, at the museum and venues across Bradford and Yorkshire.

Imelda Staunton at the Bradford Film Festival