British Independent Film Awards

With the BIFAs announced, looks at its effect on the bigger award ceremonies, and what it means for UK film

Last night saw the winners of the British Independent Film Awards announced. The finest of Britain’s film crop gathered in London for the ceremony, presented, as it has been for the past six years, by James Nesbitt. Viewers were hit with a touch of déjà vu, as Carey Mulligan took Best Actress (this time for Never Let Me Go), and A Prophet, Best Foreign Independent Film, but as the night panned out stage time was primarily soaked up by the cast and crew of The King’s Speech.

Coming top in a third of the categories, including Best Film, and Best Actor, this is one of the more concrete indications that Tom Hooper’s film could well be on it’s way to fulfilling many a film critic’s expectations as regards to the BAFTAs and the Oscars.

Interestingly, the long-predicted result falls in line with a biyearly trend that can be seen to pervade the BIFAs, and British Film, to bring out the overall favourite of the season. This year – as with 2006/7 (The Queen, The Last King of Scotland) and 2008/9 (Slumdog Millionaire) – a major British film has wowed the jury, and if the convention set by these examples is anything to go by, it should climb to the top of the list at the bigger, more high profile awards too.

Unlike previous years, however, the predicted success for a British independent film holds potentially more significance. With the abolition of the UK Film Council there have been fears of a shaky future for the British film industry. Even before the knock-on effects of the credit crunch to film kicked off, filmmakers and actors could foresee the economy-based options that would have to be taken, giving Hollywood, as many saw it, the upper hand. Jeremy Hunt’s cuts, therefore, were met with the belief that the increasingly tested bubble of protection to British film had burst, and the autonomy of our film council, lost.

This could well be the case. Carey Mulligan is one of the vast number of film stars to have expressed their anger: “Films are getting bigger and the smaller ones are going away. Films like Never Let Me Go are so hard to get made because of the subject matter and because it’s a literary adaptation. It’s a shame, and it makes you worry that new, original stories aren’t going to get made any more.” As the producers and production companies with the money that counts will be less willing to take risks, certain successes now could prove tough to make in the near future.

But the recognition on a global scale of independent British filmmakers’ high calibre at least keeps our foot well and truly in the door, and will help towards more confident investment by independent companies, if the government refuses to provide.

Best British Independent Film
The King’s Speech

Best Director of a British Independent Film
Gareth Edwards
for Monsters

The Douglas Hickox Award
Clio Barnard
for The Arbor

Best Screenplay
David Seidler
for The King’s Speech

Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film
Carey Mulligan
for Never Let Me Go

Best Performance by an Actor in a British Independent Film
Colin Firth
for The King’s Speech

Best Supporting Actress
Helena Bonham Carter
for The King’s Speech

Best Supporting Actor
Geoffrey Rush
for The King’s Speech

Most Promising Newcomer
Joanne Froggatt
for In Our Name

Best Achievement In Production

The Raindance Award
Son of Babylon

Best Technical Achievement
Gareth Edwards
for Monsters

Best British Documentary
Enemies of the People

Best British Short Film

Best Foreign Independent Film
A Prophet

The Richard Harris Award
Helena Bonham Carter

The Variety Award
Liam Neeson

The Special Jury Prize
Jenne Casarotto