The British Independent Film Awards (Bifa) has unveiled gender neutral acting categories and a selection of new performance awards as part of the organisation’s 25th anniversary.
Bifa was created in 1998 and has since celebrated and promoted British independent cinema and filmmaking talent in the UK.
The body has revealed it will now award five acting accolades and with no mention of “actor” or “actress”, and has made the move to gender neutral awards for its winners.
During the organisation’s 25th anniversary year, the new performance categories – best lead performance, best supporting performance, best joint lead performance for two (or exceptionally three) performances that are the joint focus of the film, and best ensemble, will celebrate and reward outstanding acting talent on display in British independent film.
Bifa’s established breakthrough performance award remains unchanged and rounds out the new set of awards.
The best lead performance and best supporting performance categories will each feature up to 10 nominees, while the breakthrough performance, best joint lead performance and best ensemble performance will each feature a maximum of five nominees.
In addition, a new debut director category for feature documentaries and two new music awards have been added the organisation’s roster, which will be awarded at the ceremony in December.
Bifa is also adding a new category to the awards: best debut director – feature documentary, will sit alongside the Douglas Hickox Award for best debut director, which will now be for fiction features only.
The award for best music, which previously recognised both original composition and music supervision, will now be separated into best original music and best music supervision.
The best music supervision award is available to films in which sourced music makes up at least 40% of the film’s music soundtrack, while the contenders for the best original music award must be films in which the original score makes up at least 40% of the film’s music soundtrack.
Speaking about the Bifa shake-up for 2022, the organisation’s directors, Amy Gustin and Deena Wallace, said: “We’re very excited to be able to launch Bifa’s new expanded awards categories which will more fully capture the range of exceptional performances and acting talent in British independent film and allow us to celebrate even more talent than ever before.”
The awards are following in the footsteps of the Brit awards, which scrapped male and female categories at the 2022 ceremony in February, and the MTV Movie Awards who have been awarding gender neutral accolades since 2017.
Bifa has also revealed new dates for the organisation’s vital Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training, running from July until January 2023.
The programme includes training on anti-bullying and harassment, fair recruitment in the workplace and unconscious bias.
The 2022 Bifa nominations will be announced on November 3, followed by the ceremony which will take place on December 4.