About

Rules and Eligibility

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The British Independent Film Awards are for theatrical feature films and short films. The majority of categories are only open to British, independent films. There are separate eligibility criteria for international independent films.

In all cases, final decisions about a film’s eligibility rest with BIFA’s Nomination Committee. Under exceptional circumstances, inclusion and consideration of films which do not strictly comply with the below criteria will be subject to the discretion of the Committee. If you have questions about your film’s eligibility, please contact BIFA on hello@bifa.film.

Click here to begin the process of entering a film: https://members.bifa.film/entries

 

Timeline

May Short film entries open
5th June Feature film entries open
8th August Entry deadline 1 (see Entry Fees below)
16th August Free entry deadline (shorts & features)
22nd August Entry deadline 2 (see Entry Fees below)
30th August Final entry deadline (see Entry Fees below)
13th September Screening deadline
(all films must be available to be seen by voters by this date)
13th September – 4th October Round 1 voting
w/c 14th October Longlist announcements
21st – 28th October Round 2 voting
30th October Nominations announcement
15th November TBC Craft winners announcement
1st December BIFA ceremony

 

ENTRY DEADLINES & FEES

Entries for short films will remain free until the 8th August. Thereafter, each film entry will incur an entry fee at the following rates*:

Dates
Entry fee – short films
Entry fee – feature films with production budgets under £1m
Entry fee – feature films with production budgets over £1m
May to 8th August Free Free £50
9th to 22nd August £15 £50 £100
23rd to 30th August £30 £100 £200

Friday 30th August is the final entry deadline for short films. Feature films may be entered after the 30th August, until 6th September, at the discretion of the Nomination Committee and with the following entry fees*:

Dates
Entry fee – feature films with production budgets under £1m
Entry fee – feature films with production budgets over £1m
31st August to 6th September £250 £500

(*These prices exclude VAT)

 

Categories

Category
Named nominees / recipient(s)
Eligible films
Winner decided by…
Best British Independent Film Director, Screenwriter(s), Producer(s) British features BIFA voters
Best Director Director British features Main Jury
Best Screenplay Screenwriter(s) British features Main Jury
Best Actor Lead actor British features Main Jury
Best Actress Lead actress British features Main Jury
Best Supporting Actor Supporting actor British features Main Jury
Best Supporting Actress Supporting actress British features Main Jury
The Douglas Hickox Award
(Best Debut Director)
British Director British features New Talent Jury
Best Debut Screenwriter British Screenwriter(s) British features New Talent Jury
Breakthrough Producer British Producer(s) British features New Talent Jury
Most Promising Newcomer British lead & supporting actors & actresses British features New Talent Jury
Best Documentary Director British features Main Jury
The Raindance Discovery Award Proposed by entrant, confirmed by Subgroup and Nomination Committee British features Main Jury
Best Casting Casting Director British features BIFA voters
Best Cinematography Director of Photography British features BIFA voters
Best Costume Design Costume Designer British features BIFA voters
Best Editing Editor British features BIFA voters
Best Effects Special Effects Supervisor(s)
Visual Effects Supervisor(s)
British features BIFA voters
Best Make-Up & Hair Design Make-Up Designer
Hair Designer
British features BIFA voters
Best Music Composer or Music Supervisor British features BIFA voters
Best Production Design Production Designer British features BIFA voters
Best Sound Sound Designer or Sound Department (Sound Designer, Supervising Sound Editor, Production Mixer and Re-recording Mixer) British features BIFA voters
Best British Short Film Director, Screenwriter(s), Producer(s) British short films BIFA voters
Best International Independent Film Director, Screenwriter(s), Producer(s) International features BIFA voters
The Richard Harris Award British actor Individual Nomination Committee & Board
The Variety Award Actor, Director or Writer Individual Nomination Committee & Board
The Special Jury Prize Decided by Jury Individual or organisation Main Jury

 

adjudication process

BIFA receives around 250 feature film and 350 short film entries every year. Consecutive rounds of voting amongst BIFA’s voters and jurors reduce the entries to the longlists (Round 1), nominations (Round 2) and winners (Round 3) in each category.

BIFA’s diverse pool of over 600 voters consists of previous winners and nominees and other leading film professionals from across the industry. Around half of these voters take part in voting for the nominations (Rounds 1 and 2) each year and all voters are invited to vote for the winners in certain categories.

Voters are convened into ‘subgroups’ dedicated to particular categories for the first two rounds of voting. The adjudication process is discussion-based and the subgroups meet multiple times to before votes are cast confidentially.

The winners in most categories are decided by two juries, the Main Jury and the New Talent Jury, both newly-appointed each year.

The winners in the following categories are decided by votes open to all of BIFA’s voters who have watched the nominations:

  • Best British Independent Film
  • Best International Independent Film
  • Best British Short Film
  • The nine Craft categories

BIFA’s Nomination Committee oversees the adjudication and voting processes and has the responsibility of making final decisions in all matters pertaining to entries, eligibility requirements, rules and processes. The Nominations Committee also meet with subgroup representatives to scrutinize and confirm voting results.

BIFA also presents honorary awards, which are bestowed either by BIFA’s Board and Nomination Committee or by its independent juries. These honorary awards include the Richard Harris Award, the Variety Award and the Special Jury Prize.

More details about the BIFA voting and adjudication process can be found here.

 

FILM eligibility requirements

independent

BIFA considers the following eight companies to be ‘major studios’:

20th Century Fox Paramount
Amazon Studios Sony
Disney Universal
Netflix Warner Bros

 

Where there is any major studio substantially funding the production of a film, the total budget must not exceed $20 million. Any major studio involvement in the financing or production of a film will be assessed by BIFA. Films are not defined as ‘independent’ strictly on the terms of financing. The origination of a film (i.e. whether it was initially conceived inside or outside of a studio system) will also be taken into account when assessing the independence of studio-backed films.

British

BIFA considers a film to be ‘British’ if it:

  • Has been produced or majority co-produced by a British production company(ies) or is in receipt of at least 51% of its production budget from British sources
    AND
  • Includes sufficient creative elements from the UK, e.g. key creative team, lead cast and HODs

This applies to shorts and feature films entering all categories except for Best International Independent Film.

Where an individual must be British to qualify for an award, such as in the debut categories, or for the purposes of identifying the nationality of a film, we may ask entrants if they or others who worked on a film have a British passport or the right to hold one. If you are unsure, please use this test.

 

FILM RELEASE REQUIREMENTS

To be eligible, feature films must be intended for theatrical release and must screen to a paying public audience either at a qualifying festival or on general release during the eligibility period.

This year, the eligibility period is 1 December 2018 to 30 November 2019.

Where formal distribution is confirmed after a qualifying festival screening, the festival screening remains as the qualifying eligibility criterion for BIFA.

No re-releases may be entered. Once entered, a film can be withdrawn up to a week before the first round of voting opens. Films that are withdrawn at this point can be entered in subsequent years, if eligible. Otherwise, previously entered films are not eligible.

For clarity: a film with formal distribution confirmed must meet the ‘general release’ criterion: a festival screening is insufficient.

BRITISH FEatures

  • Must be intended for theatrical release
  • Must be over 70 minutes in running time
  • Must screen:
    • On general release in the UK during the eligibility period, for a run consisting of at least seven screenings in aggregate
      OR
    • At any British film festival or at one of BIFA’s qualifying international film festivals during the eligibility period (view or download a PDF of this year’s list by clicking here)

Films that are between 40 and 70 minutes in length may be eligible if they have a theatrical release in the UK during the eligibility period.

Where formal distribution is confirmed after a qualifying festival screening, the festival screening remains as the qualifying eligibility criterion for BIFA. Films which have a qualifying festival screening but are scheduled for theatrical release after 31 January 2020 may choose whether to enter in the current year or to wait until next year. Please contact BIFA to discuss this via hello@bifa.film.

For clarity: a film with formal distribution confirmed must meet the ‘general release’ criterion: a festival screening is insufficient.

BRITISH SHORTS

  • Must have been completed on or after 1 May 2018
  • Must be under 40 minutes in running time
  • Must be narrative, documentary or animation (music videos, fashion films and art films are ineligible)
  • Must:
    • Screen as part of the official selection at one of BIFA’s qualifying festivals for short films during the eligibility period (view or download a PDF of this year’s list by clicking here)
      OR
    • Screen on one of BIFA’s recognised online channels during the eligibility period (download a PDF of this year’s list by clicking here)
      OR
    • Win an award during the eligibility period

International features

  • Must be intended for theatrical release
  • Must be over 70 minutes in running time
  • Must have confirmed UK distribution
  • Must screen:
    • On general release in the UK during the eligibility period, for a run consisting of at least seven screenings in aggregate
      OR
    • At one of BIFA’s qualifying international festivals during the eligibility period (download a PDF of this year’s list by clicking here)

International features may also be entered if they have won an award at one of BIFA’s qualifying international film festivals and are available for voters to watch.

 

category rules & requirements

Films may be submitted to as many or as few categories as entrants wish. However, voters or the Nomination Committee may choose to consider a film in additional categories to those submitted.

Credits and eligibility decisions are based on the credits featured on exhibited prints of the film.

Films entered to British feature film categories must be assessed against the BFI Diversity Standards as part of the entry process, unless they have already been assessed. Short films entered to the Best British Short Film award do not need to follow the formal application process but entrants will be asked to read the Standards and perform a short evaluation of their films against them. Awards eligibility criteria does not currently require films to meet the Standards, but they must be assessed against them. You can find out more about the BFI Diversity Standards here.

Films entered to British feature film categories must also supply information about their production budget and production staff. This information is used by BIFA to analyse the state of the British film industry and does not affect a film’s entry or chance to be nominated in any way.

Category/ies
Named nominee(s) / Award recipients
Additional rules
Statement required?
Best British Independent Film Fully-credited writers, producers and directors

Other producer credits, such as Associate, Executive, etc. are not eligible for this award.
Co-directors and co-writers are only eligible where there are no lead directors or writers credited

Best International Independent Film Fully-credited writers, producers and directors

Other producer credits, such as Associate, Executive, etc. are not eligible for this award.
Co-directors and co-writers are only eligible where there are no lead directors or writers credited

Best Director Director(s)

Co-directors are only eligible where there is no lead director credited

Best Screenwriter Screenwriter(s)

Co-writers are only eligible where there is no lead screenwriter credited. ‘Additional Material by…’, ‘Original Story by…’ and similar credits are not eligible

Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Lead & supporting performers Entrants may select which category a performer should be considered for but BIFA’s Nomination Committee reserves the right to make final decisions about performers’ category placement
The Douglas Hickox Award
(Best Debut Director)
Director(s)

Must hold, or have the right to hold, a British passport

Co-directors are only eligible where there is no lead director credited

For a British director for their debut fiction feature film. Previous television or documentary credits do not disqualify an individual from consideration. Documentaries are ineligible in this category unless an exception is granted by BIFA’s Nomination Committee
Best Debut Screenwriter Screenwriter(s)

Must hold, or have the right to hold, a British passport

Co-writers are only eligible where there is no lead screenwriter credited. ‘Additional Material by…’, ‘Original Story by…’ and similar credits are not eligible

For a British screenwriter for their debut fiction feature film. Previous television or documentary credits do not disqualify an individual from consideration.
Breakthrough Producer Producer(s)

Must hold, or have the right to hold, a British passport

Other producer credits, such as Associate, Executive, etc. are not eligible for this award

For a British producer for their first or second documentary or fiction feature film.

Where a producer wishes to be considered for the award for their second feature film, BIFA’s subgroup and Nomination Committee will assess whether the producer’s first film could be considered their industry breakthrough.

Statement required
Most Promising Newcomer Lead & supporting performers

Must hold, or have the right to hold, a British passport

For British performers taking their first significant role in a theatrical feature film. Eligiblity of performers with significant theatre or TV credits will be determined by the Nomination Committee
The Raindance Discovery Award This category is for all British features with budgets under £500,000.

Entrants may propose individuals from their production team to be the nominee in this category. However, the final decision on nominees is at the discretion of the Discovery subgroup and the Nomination Committee

This award highlights innovation, uniqueness of vision, maverick filmmaking and risk-taking, generally in fiction films with a budget under £500k.

Films that are nominated for the Raindance Discovery Award cannot also be nominated for the Debut Director, Debut Screenwriter or Breakthrough Producer awards. Where a film is voted onto the nominations for both Debut Director and the Raindance Discovery Award, for example, it will only be listed as being nominated for Debut Director, and the next film (in terms of scoring) will be nominated for the Discovery Award.

Statement required
Best Documentary Director(s) & Producer(s)

Co-directors are only eligible where there is no lead director credited

Films should be non-fiction and photographer in actual occurrence or employ partial re-enactment, stock footage, stills, animation, stop-motion or other techniques, as long as the emphasis is on fact and not on fiction
Best British Short Film Fully-credited writers, producers and directors

Other producer credits, such as Associate, Executive, etc. are not eligible for this award.

Co-directors and co-writers are only eligible where there are no lead directors or writers credited

Films must be under 40 minutes in length.

Music videos, fashion / art films and promos are not considered eligible.

Best Casting Casting Director Statement required
Best Cinematography Director of Photography Statement required
Best Costume Design Costume Designer Statement required
Best Editing Editor

Other editing credits, such as Assistant or Co-Editor, are not eligible

Statement required
Best Effects Special Effects Supervisor and/or Visual Effects Supervisor Statement required

Effects breakdown reel required

Best Make-Up & Hair Design Make-Up & Hair Designer Prosthetics Designers are also eligible in this category Statement required
Best Music Composer or Music Supervisor This category is for both composition of original music for a film and supervision of sourced music. The nominees accepted should reflect the proportion of original and source music: where over 70% of the music is either original or source, we would expect only the composer or supervisor to be listed accordingly Statement required

 

Music Cue Sheet required, plus breakdown of % original and sourced music

Best Production Design Production Designer Statement required
Best Sound Sound Designer, Supervising Sound Editor, Production Mixer, Re-Recording Mixer Nominees in this category may be entered individually (e.g. just the Sound Designer) or as a team Statement required

You can download PDFs of the statement formats for the categories in which they are required by clicking the links below:

Craft categories (Casting, Costume Design, Cinematography, Editing, Effects, Make-Up & Hair, Music, Production Design, Sound)

Breakthrough Producer

The Raindance Discovery Award

Only one award trophy will be issued to the winner of each category. Where multiple nominees have been accepted by BIFA, additional trophies can be purchased in the event of an award win.

Named nominees, with the exception of those nominated in the Craft categories, will each receive an invitation to the awards, up to a maximum of three invitations per category. Invitations are per nominee, not per nomination (so those nominated twice do not get two tickets).

For the Craft categories, the winners will be announced in advance of the ceremony and will be invited to attend the Awards. Some Craft categories are supported by industry partners and in those cases, the nominees are also invited to the Awards.

 

how to enter

Entries to BIFA can be made by a film’s distributor or another representative, such as the producer,  a sales agent or a festivals & awards advisor. If duplicate entries are made BIFA will contact the entrants to clarify which one to proceed with.

To enter a film to BIFA:

  1. Create an account (or log in to your existing account) here: https://members.bifa.film/entries
  2. Complete an entry form for the type of film that you wish to enter
  3. If an entry fee is applicable, it will need to be paid on submission of the entry to BIFA.

It is the responsibility of the entrant to ensure that a film is entered correctly and no additional category entries or category changes will be accepted after 6 September.

 

access to films

Entrants must provide BIFA voters with access to their entered film, ideally via an online screener. DVDs and access to screenings are also accepted. If BIFA voters cannot watch the film by 13 September the Nomination Committee may disqualify it from the competition.

 

All decisions made by BIFA and its Board and Committees are final and no correspondence will be entered into as to why particular entries were or were not nominated.