I find the most compelling films around come out of the UK and many of them are independent. Spy celebrates the rise of the British Independent film.
The British Independent Film Awards set out to celebrate merit and achievement in independently funded British filmmaking, to honor new talent, and to promote British filmmaking and British talent to a wider public.
Nominations were announced on 3rd November 2014
Emma Thompson and Benedict Cumberbatch were awarded special prizes this evening with the latter saying he felt it was “very premature” to be getting a trophy for his career, but promised it would inspire him to “work hard to deserve it.” He also praised the British filmmaking community and its “armies of craftsmen who are the envy of the world and keep the world coming back here to work.”
Thompson said she was “a bit bewildered because I really don’t know who to thank” for the Richard Harris Award for outstanding contribution.
So, she offered a mea culpa instead. To the strictly indie audience she sheepishly said, “I have to confess to you that I have been with studios. But, I haven’t enjoyed it. I’ve tried not to get sucked in… I have demanded smaller trailers… I have taken small roles in large studio films which could be described as formulaic, for money. I am sorry.” The shtick complete, she explained she had called late director Mike Nichols prior to his death and told him she was confused how to accept the award. His advice, she said, was, “Why don’t you apologize for all the shit you’ve done and promise to do better? That’s always worked for me.” So, she quipped to the BIFA attendees, “I do apologize. I’m very happy to get this off my chest.”
This was the 17th edition of the BIFAs and the last that will be overseen by long-standing and admired directors of the awards, Johanna von Fischer and Tessa Collinson. The women are jointly stepping down from their posts at the end of this year. Amy Gustin and Deena Wallace will take over from January. Gustin produced the last two editions of the Raindance Film Festival while Wallace was previously Head of Film at BAFTA.
Miners’ strike drama Pride has been named best film.
The film, about an alliance between gay rights campaigners and pit workers during the 1984 strike, collected three awards in total.
Andrew Scott and Imelda Staunton won the best supporting actor and actress prizes for their roles in the film.
Brendan Gleeson was named best actor for Calvary and Gugu Mbatha-Raw won best actress for Belle.
Accepting the top award of the night, Pride director Matthew Warchus said: “We’re getting reports from up and down the country of audiences standing up and applauding. That doesn’t really happen in British cinemas.
“It’s just extraordinary. It’s a real tribute to the source material.”
“When I was first told the story I was blown away by it – people ask ‘is that really true?’
“It took 20 years to convince anyone that a film about vegan lesbian activists was a sure-fire hit.”
Northern Ireland thriller ’71 went into the awards with nine nominations but only picked up one prize on the night – best director for Yann Demange.
Frank Sidebottom-inspired film Frank won best screenplay for its writers Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan. It also picked up a second award for technical achievement, for its music.
Sameena Jabeen Ahmed was named most promising newcomer for her role in thriller Catch Me Daddy.
“Independent film allows subjects to be approached that are not massive crowd-pullers,” Gleeson said, after winning his best actor trophy for Calvary.
“Fantastic films are made in the independent circuit. It’s whether people want to pay for something that’s going to challenge them,” he added.
Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard won best debut director for Nick Cave film 20,000 Days on Earth and drama The Goob won best achievement in production.
The best documentary award went to sports film Next Goal Wins, while The Karman Line was named best short and the Raindance award went to fantasy drama Luna.
Richard Linklater’s Boyhood won best international film. The director accepted the award, giving a “a big shout-out to my friends on table one”.
He dedicated the award to If… and This Sporting Life director Lindsay Anderson.
Although he lost out on winning the best actor prize, Benedict Cumberbatch was awarded the Variety award for helping “focus the international spotlight on the UK”.
The 38-year-old told the audience: “This award will inspire me to work harder, to make me feel like I deserve it – which won’t be difficult, because I love my job.”
Brendan Gleeson – Calvary
Yann Demange – ’71
Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Belle
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION
The Goob, prods: Michael Elliott Lee Groombridge
Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan – Frank
THE DOUGLAS HICKOX AWARD [BEST DEBUT DIRECTOR]
Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard – 20,000 Days On Earth
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Imelda Staunton – Pride
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Andrew Scott – Pride
MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER
Sameena Jabeen Ahmed – Catch Me Daddy
BEST TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT
Stephen Rennicks – Music – Frank
Next Goal Wins, dirs: Mike Brett, Steve Jamison
THE RAINDANCE AWARD
BEST BRITISH SHORT
The Kármán Line
BEST INTERNATIONAL INDEPENDENT FILM