British Independent Film Awards Switch To Gender-Neutral Acting Categories; Increase Prizes

For its 25th anniversary, The British Independent Film Awards are changing some things, adding new performance awards, a debut director category for feature documentaries, and two new music prizes. The acting categories will now be gender-neutral. By eliminating “actress” and “actor” awards, BIFA joins other organizations, such as the Berlin Film Festival, the MTV Movie Awards, and the BRITs, that have recently made the switch.

The British Independent Film Awards

Best Lead Performance, Best Supporting Performance, Best Joint Lead Performance—for two (or three) performances that are the joint emphasis of a film—and Best Ensemble will henceforth be the five acting awards given out by BIFA. The previously established Breakthrough Performance award from BIFA—which was already gender-neutral—remains the same.

The joint Lead Performance and Ensemble races will have a maximum of five nominees, compared to 10 for the Lead and Supporting Performance categories. Along with the Douglas Hickox Award for Best Debut Director, BIFA is also adding the Best Debut Director – Feature Documentary category. The latter is now restricted to fiction-only features. The Best Original Music and Best Music Supervision categories of the Best Music award, which historically rewarded both original composition and music supervision, will exist.


Outstanding Lead Performance
for success in a leading job. 10 maximum candidates.

Most Outstanding Supporting Actor
for their work in a supporting capacity. 10 maximum candidates.

Novel Performance Supported By Netflix
for British actors and actresses lending their first major lead or supporting role in a theatrical feature film. Five candidates.

Joint Lead Performance At Its Best
For two (or, in rare cases, three) performances that share a significant amount of scenes and screen time and are the main emphasis of the movie. five maximum nominees.

Best Ensemble/Collaborative Performance
For a group performance that features a lead or leads, great supporting actors, and two or more actors who share substantial scenes and screen time. five maximum nominees.

Best First-Time Documentary Director
for a British filmmaker’s first major documentary film. Previous work on television or in fiction films does not disqualify a candidate.

Excellent Musical Direction
for motion pictures whose musical score contains at least 40% sourced music.

Sponsored By Universal Music Publishing Group’s Best Original Music
for movies where the original soundtrack composes at least 40% of the soundtrack.

We’re thrilled to introduce the enlarged categories for the BIFA Awards, which will better represent the breadth of excellent acting skills and performances in British independent films, said BIFA Directors Amy Gustin and Deena Wallace. “This will allow us to celebrate even more talent than ever before.”

From July through January 2023, new dates for BIFA’s Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion training have been confirmed. The training program covers topics including fair hiring procedures, unconscious prejudice, anti-bullying, and anti-harassment. With funding from UK film production, it is backed by ScreenSkills’ Film Skills Fund. Budgeting & Scheduling for Virtual Production, a brand-new program for 2022, is supported by ScreenSkills and in conjunction with Treehouse Digital. It is a part of the BFI Future Film Skills program and is funded by National Lottery money.


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