BIFA has a large and diverse voting group made up of past nominees and winners and top film professionals and filmmakers. Although our pool of voters is 800-strong and continually growing, around half of them take part in ‘active duty’ (voting for the nominations) each year. All voters, ‘active’ and ‘inactive’, are welcome to vote for the winners in many categories (see list below). The winners in the rest of BIFA’s categories are decided by two independent, annually-appointed juries: the Main Jury and the Newcomer Jury.

BIFA’s voting process revolves around group discussion, with teams of voters meeting throughout the year to talk about the films that they have seen before privately casting votes. Each stage in BIFA’s process is reached by rounds of voting: the longlists are decided by Round One, the nominations by Round Two and the winners by Round Three.

Additionally, BIFA 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 for Outstanding Contribution to British Film by an Actor, which is decided with the input of the Harris family, and the Special Jury Award.


June Entries open
Subgroups convened
July Viewing stage
Subgroup briefings
August Viewing stage
Subgroup meetings
September Film entry deadline
Subgroup meetings
Round One voting
October Longlists announced
Subgroup meetings
Round Two voting
Nominations announced
November Round Three voting
Jury meetings
December BIFA ceremony / winners announced


Early in the year, ‘active’ voters are divided into several subgroups, which deal with specific categories:

  • Debut Director
  • Breakthrough Producer
  • Debut Screenwriter
  • Shorts
  • Documentary
  • Discovery Award
  • International
  • Screenplay / Director
  • Performance
  • Craft

The majority of the watching / voting process takes place in August, September and October, when all entered films are seen by a minimum number of voters and discussed at subgroup meetings. Votes are then cast privately in two rounds, to reach the longlists and then the nominations. In calculating the results, BIFA takes into account the number of people who have seen a film.

The long list for the Best British Independent Film award is reached by discussion and consensus amongst all voters: each subgroup gets to put forward 4 to 8 films from their entries that they feel are the best British independent films of the year. These suggestions are collected to form the Best British Independent Film Award long list of around 20-30 films, which is fed into Round Two voting.

All voters are welcome to vote for the winners in the following categories:

  • Best British Independent Film
  • Best International Independent Film
  • Best British Short Film
  • Best Documentary
  • The Raindance Discovery Award
  • The nine Craft categories (Casting, Cinematography, Costume Design, Effects, Editing, Make-up & Hair Design, Music, Production Design, Sound)

BIFA’s two juries vote for the winners in the following categories:

Main Jury New Talent Jury

Best Director
Best Screenplay
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
The Special Jury Prize

The Douglas Hickox Award (Debut Director)
Debut Screenwriter
Breakthrough Producer
Most Promising Newcomer



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 scrutinise and confirm voting results.

BIFA also presents two honorary awards: The Richard Harris Award, which is bestowed by BIFA’s Board and Nomination Committee; and the Special Jury Prize, which is in the gift of that year’s independent Main Jury.

Conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest are declared to BIFA and voters sit out any discussions of films which they have an interest in. Conflicted voters may still vote, but they may not vote for films which they have an interest in. Additionally, BIFA carries out rigorous checks on votes to ensure that any undeclared conflicts of interest are discovered, and voting results are inspected by our scrutineers, RSM.

Register to vote

If you’re interested in registering to vote for BIFA, please take a look at the criteria required to be a BIFA voter and register your interest here.