British Independent Film Awards 2021: On the red carpet with the nominees and winners
Last night the much-anticipated presentation ceremony for the British Independent Film Awards 2021 took place in London. The pandemic has been a tough period to get through for everyone and for many industries, not least for cinema and more acutely British independent cinema, against whom the odds are often already stacked. But if the atmosphere among the filmmakers, the stars and other attendees from across the sector was anything to go by, the traumatising nature of the last two years has in fact invigorated a sense of appreciation for indie film, for culture and for envelope-pushing creativity.
The lineup of nominees was as strong as ever in terms of originality, diversity and genuinely groundbreaking approaches to movie-making, but there were a few standout films in terms of who took home awards on the night: After Love, the moving directorial debut from Aleem Khan, won a grand total of six awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Debut Director and Best Screenplay, plus Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor for Joanna Scanlan and Talid Ariss, respectively.
Philip Barantini’s shot-in-one-take kitchen drama Boiling Point, which had an impressive 11 nominations, clinched a Best Supporting Actress award for Vinette Robinson, as well as recognition for Best Casting, Best Cinematography and Best Sound. Adeel Akhtar was awarded Best Actor for his role in Clio Barnard’s Ali and Ava, which also scored Best Music. Breakthrough Performance went to Nell Barlow for her role in Marley Morrison’s LGBTQ+ coming-of-age drama Sweetheart, which was also awarded Breakthrough Producer.
Other awards included Best Debut Screenwriter for Cathy Brady (for Irish drama Wildfire), Best Documentary and the Raindance Discovery Award for Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché, Best Short Film to Femme and Best International Film for animated movie Flee. Craft awards went to Joanna Hogg’s semi-autobiographical sequel Souvenir Part II, found-footage horror Dashcam, and Will Sharpe’s beautifully crafted The Electrical Life of Louis Wain.
One of the UK’s finest working actors, Riz Ahmed was honoured with the Richard Harris Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Actor to British Film, while a Special Jury Prize went to Raising Films, which campaigns for better working conditions for parents in the UK screen sector.
The Upcoming had the honour of speaking to some of the night’s talent on the red carpet at Billingsgate in London ahead of the ceremony.
Director Philip Barantini spoke to us about the making of his multi-BIFA-nominated film Boiling Point.
His star Stephen Graham also spoke about his role in the film.
We heard from the movie’s producers Bart Ruspoli and Hester Ruoff about what the BIFAs meant to them.
Riz Ahmed shared his reflections on being recognised with his special award.
Yann Demange, who presented Ahmed’s award, told us why he thinks he is such as standout talent.
Prano Bailey-Bond stopped to speak with us about her critically acclaimed psychological horror Censor, which was nominated for multiple awards including Best Debut Director.
The stunning Caitríona Balfe told us about her role in Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, for which she was nominated for Best Actress.
Her costar, young Jude Hill, also spoke to us about acting in the film, which earned him a nomination for Breakthrough Performance.
Ever-versatile actor James Norton had a short chat with us about Nowhere Special and his nomination for Best Actor.
First-time director Reggie Yates told us about the fun he had making Pirates alongside his high-energy cast and his nomination for Best Debut Screenwriter.
Sofia Kappel gave us some insight into making Best International Film-nominated Pleasure and what the film has to say about the sex work industry.
Marley Morrison and Michelle Antoniades spoke about the making of Sweetheart and the importance of telling LGBTQ+ stories.
One of their stars, Jo Hartley, told us about her role in the film and her nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Director Juho Kuosmanen explained why he wanted to make Compartment No 6, nominated for Best International Film.
Adeel Akhtar shared his insights on his role in Ali and Ava, for which he won Best Actor.
His costar, Claire Rushbrook, also spoke about what she hopes people will take away from the film.
Best Actress winner Joanna Scanlan told us about her role in After Love.
While director Aleem Khan spoke about why he wanted to make the film, which also won Best Film and Best Director.
Director Sue Carpenter told us why she was motivated to make I Am Belmaya, nominated for Best Documentary.
We also heard from Ellora Torchia on working with Ben Wheatley on In the Earth.
Presenter Romola Garai shared her views on the nominees for 2021 and a little about her directorial debut film Amulet, which is due to be released in the new year.
Some of the acceptance speeches are also available to watch below.
Joanna Scanlan’s Best Actress acceptance speech for After Love:
Adeel Akhtar’s Best Actor acceptance speech for Ali and Ava:
Aleem Khan’s acceptance speech for winning Best Director for After Love:
After Love wins Best Film 2021:
Riz Ahmed’s speech for the Richard Harris Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Actor to British Film: