Entering its 25th year, the British Independent Film Award remove the gendered “actor” and “actress” performance categories.
Following in the footsteps of other awards organizations like the Berlin Film Festival, the MTV Movie Awards and the BRITs – and amid a growing insistence within some major US academies to do the same – actors from all genders will be eligible for their gender-neutral recognitions, including Best Lead Performance and Best Supporting Performance.
Along with this reshuffle, other nominees will be named for each category. Best Main Performance and Best Supporting Performance will each include up to 10 nominees. The two additional new gender-neutral categories for best joint performance for two (or exceptionally three) actors who are the focus of the film and best ensemble will each be capped at five nominees. BIFA’s already established Gender Neutral Acting category, its Breakthrough Performance Award, will remain unchanged at five nominees.
These are not the only changes to come. A Best First Director award is added for directing feature-length documentaries, while BIFA’s existing Douglas Hickox Award for Best First Director will now only recognize work in narrative fiction film. The prize for the best music of the ceremony is also revamped and split into two: best original music and best musical supervision. The latter will recognize when 40% or more of the film’s soundtrack is original music, while the best original score will award an original score that is at least 40% of the original soundtrack.
“We are very pleased to be able to launch BIFA’s new and expanded awards categories, which will more fully capture the range of outstanding performance and acting talent across UK independent film and allow us to celebrate even more talent than ever before.” , said Amy Gustin, director of BIFA. and Deena Wallace said in a joint statement.
The revamp comes at a time of conscious growth and change for BIFA, which has also announced new dates for its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training by January 2023. Topics covered include courses on anti-bullying and harassment, fair workplace recruitment and unconscious bias courses.
This year’s BIFA ceremony is scheduled for December 4; nominations in these new categories will be announced on November 3.