BIFA Rule Changes 2018

Monday, July 2, 2018

Entries for the 2018 British Independent Film Awards are now open and will close on Monday 3 September. This year, our Nomination Committee have decided to make some important changes to our rules and eligibility criteria to ensure that BIFA stays on the cutting edge and celebrates the best independent cinema and filmmakers from the UK and around the world in a way that’s consistent with our values. These changes have been folded into our rules and eligibility criteria (which all filmmakers should read before entering a film to BIFA), but here they are in one handy list:

Feature films:

  • BIFA is taking steps towards adopting the BFI Diversity Standards for eligibility. This year, films that wish to compete for the Best British Independent Film award must be assessed against the BFI’s Diversity Standards. As a pilot in 2018, there is no requirement that films meet the Standards this year, though it is our aim that from 2019 all films longlisted in the Best British Independent Film category meet at least two of the four BFI Diversity Standards. We hope that this will help to encourage filmmakers at all levels of the industry to embed these important standards in their practices, building towards an industry that is more representative and inclusive of the whole of the UK.
  • Films that compete at BIFA must be intended for theatrical release. Films that have formal UK distribution and that qualify for BIFA through screening on general release in the UK, rather than through festival screenings, must have a theatrical run to paying audiences in UK cinemas during our eligibility dates (1 December 2017 to 30 November 2018) consisting of a minimum of seven screenings in aggregate. This applies to British and international feature films. We know how important it is to filmmakers that their work is seen in cinemas as it was intended and we are keen to support this however we can.
  • Netflix and Amazon Studios (including Amazon Prime Video) will henceforth be considered ‘studios’ by BIFA, meaning that films produced by them will have to have budgets under $20m to be eligible and will have to have been originated from outside the studios.
  • Films with run times between 40 and 70 minutes will now be eligible in BIFA’s feature film categories if they have achieved theatrical distribution in the UK.
  • Entrants will no longer be able to directly choose which Craft categories they can enter their films to. Entrants will be asked to give an indication of their preferences as to which categories they’d like their films to be considered in and will have to provide a supporting statement outlining their reasoning. BIFA voters will then choose whether their film will be considered in a particular category. BIFA’s Craft categories are: Best Casting, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best Effects, Best Make-up & Hair Design, Best Music, Best Production Design and Best Sound.
  • There is now an additional criterion which may make international feature films eligible for BIFA: if a film screens at one of BIFA’s qualifying international festivals (see the list here) and has formal UK distribution confirmed at the point of entry, it will be eligible. This is in addition to previous rules, where international films can be made eligible by winning an award at one of the festivals or by screening on general release in the UK during the eligibility dates.
  • The BFI London Film Festival has been added to the list of qualifying international festivals.

Short films:

  • Several new film festivals have been added to the list of qualifying festivals for short films. These are Glasgow Short Film Festival, The Smalls Film Festival, The Shortest Night Film Festival, Oska Bright Film Festival, BFI Flare Film Festival, the British Urban Film Festival, S.O.U.L. Film Festival, Deaffest Film Festival and Underwire Film Festival.
  • Online short film platforms may now enter films to BIFA that they have distributed online, that may previously have been ineligible due to not having festival screenings. Each of the following platforms may enter a maximum of three films apiece to BIFA: The Guardian Docs, VICE, Field of Vision, NOWNESS, BBC Three, Seed and Spark, Aesthetica Magazine, New York Times Op-Docs, Short of the Week, Shorts TV, Short of the Month.

Do you have any comments or opinions on any of our rule changes? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch at

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