Sunday, December 05, 2021

By Ellie Iorizzo and Kerri-Ann Roper, PA

Actor Stephen Graham, Irish star Niamh Algar, Kate Beckinsale and Gugu Mbatha-Raw are among the stars on the red carpet at this year’s British Independent Film Awards (Bifa).

This year’s ceremony, being held in London and hosted by Asim Chaudhry, sees Sir Kenneth Branagh’s film Belfast – based on his childhood in Northern Ireland – leading the nominations.

Also racking up 11 nominations is Boiling Point, which sees This Is England star Graham playing a chef under pressure.

British Independent Film Awards 2021 – London
Niamh Algar arriving at the 24th British Independent Film Awards ceremony (Ian West/PA)

Belfast’s nominations include Caitriona Balfe being nominated for best actress, Dame Judi Dench nominated for best supporting actress, Ciaran Hinds nominated for best supporting actor and star Jude Hill nominated for breakthrough performance.

Boiling Point, which was shot in a single take, is nominated for best British independent film, as well as best actor for Graham, best supporting actor for Ray Panthaki and best supporting actress for Vinette Robinson, while Lauryn Ajufo is nominated in the breakthrough performance category.

British Independent Film Awards 2021 – London
Gugu Mbatha-Raw arriving (Ian West/PA)

Films After Love, Censor and The Souvenir Part II all scored nine nominations each.

Actress Joanna Scanlan is nominated in the best actress category alongside Carrie Coon for The Nest, Claire Rushbrook for Ali & Ava, Ruth Wilson for True Things.

She told the PA news agency of After Love: “It’s such an original film, it tells a story that is really, I don’t think we’ve ever seen before or heard before, it’s very beautiful and it’s come out of a kind of spirit of ingenuity, authenticity and passion and telling a story about modern Britain which I’m very proud to be part of.”

British Independent Film Awards 2021 – London
Stephen Graham arriving at the 24th British Independent Film Awards ceremony (Ian West/PA)

Asked about returning to events in real life, Scanlan said: “I haven’t got used to it. I went to an event on Friday and that was the first one I’ve been to, donning my Spanx, after two years. I think it feels nerve-wracking slightly because we’re not used to being back in human contact.

“At the same time there’s no substitute so this is the right place, let’s hope it’s the right time.”

British Independent Film Awards 2021 – London
Kate Beckinsale arriving (Ian West/PA)

The Night Of and Sound Of Metal star Riz Ahmed is being honoured with The Richard Harris Award at the ceremony, it was previously announced.

The award, which honours an actor or actress for their significant contribution to British film throughout their career, has previously been awarded to Dame Kristin Scott Thomas, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Julie Walters, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jim Broadbent and more.

British Independent Film Awards 2021 – London
Alesha Dixon (Ian West/PA)

Ahmed said: “I am grateful to the British Independent Film community for their immense support throughout all these years. To receive the Richard Harris Award at the Bifas this year is a true honour, I hope to be able to continue to learn from those who came before me while encouraging the rising generation to follow their creative dreams.”

In the best actor category, Graham will compete against Ahmed for Encounter, Adeel Akhtar for Ali & Ava, Jude Law for The Nest and James Norton for Nowhere Special.

British Independent Film Awards 2021 – London
James Norton arriving (Ian West/PA)

Norton spoke about the importance of independent films, telling PA news agency on the red carpet: “For me it’s the most exciting, at least performing-wise, it’s the most exciting space because there’s nowhere to hide because there isn’t any big toys, and frills and stunts… to hide behind… it’s storytelling at its purest without any frills, no distractions.

“A film like ours would never have worked with a big budget, it was all about the calm, quiet, pure, gentle story.”

Asked about winning at the event, he said: “I’m up against some pretty heavy hitters, some pretty talented guys so if I don’t win, it’s fine. I’m happy to be deferring to the likes of Jude Law and others.”

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