British Independent Film Awards Shifts To Gender-Neutral Acting Categories; Adds Prizes

British Independent Film Awards is making some changes for its 25th anniversary, going gender-neutral with its acting categories as it also includes new performance awards, a new first director category for feature documentaries, and two new music awards.

In taking away the honors “actress” and “actor”, BIFA The Berlin Film Festival has joined other organizations making the changes recently, including the MTV Movie Awards and Brits.

BIFA says it will now award five acting awards: Best Lead Performance, Best Supporting Performance, Best Combined Lead Performance – two (or exceptionally three) performances that are the joint focus of a film – and Best Ensemble. BIFA’s established Breakthrough Performance Award (which was previously non-gender specific) remains unchanged.

The Lead and Supporting Performance categories will have 10 nominees each, while the Joint Lead Performance and Ensemble races will see up to five.

In addition, BIFA is adding a Best Debut Director – Feature Documentary category to sit alongside the Douglas Hickox Award for Best Debut Director. The latter will now be for fiction features only. The award for Best Music, which previously recognized both original composition and music supervision, will be divided into Best Original Music and Best Music Supervision.

BIFA directors Amy Gustin and Dina Wallace commented, “We are very excited to be able to launch BIFA’s newly expanded award categories that will fully capture the range of exceptional performance and acting talent in British independent film and Will allow us to celebrate even more talent than ever before.”

The nominations for 2022 will be announced on November 3 and the ceremony will take place on December 4.

BIFA has also welcomed new members to its Board of Directors, including award-winning producer and head of the home team, Dominic Buchanan; Carmen Thompson, cultural curator of We Are Parable and producer of Aya Films; and Tim Platt, Head of Marketing and Audience Growth at the British Film Institute.

The new dates for BIFA’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training, which will run from July to January 2023, have been confirmed. Training programs include anti-bullying and harassment, fair recruitment in the workplace, and unconscious bias courses. It is supported by the ScreenSkills Film Skills Fund with contributions from UK film production. Also new budgeting and scheduling for 2022 is in partnership with Treehouse Digital for the virtual production, supported by ScreenSkills as part of the BFI Future Film Skills Program, which uses funds from the National Lottery.