Magazine article Screen International

BIFA: Establishing a Year-Round Brand

Magazine article Screen International

BIFA: Establishing a Year-Round Brand

Article excerpt

Ahead of this Sunday's (Dec 4) main event, British Independent Film Award co-directors Amy Gustin and Deena Wallace talk to Ian Sandwell about the importance of establishing BIFA as a year-round champion of emerging talent.

Ken Loach's Palme d'Or winner I, Daniel Blake leads the nominations of this year's British Independent Film Awards (BIFA), competing in seven categories, with Andrea Arnold's American Honey, Rachel Tunnard's Adult Life Skills, Babak Anvari's Under The Shadow, and Peter Middleton and James Spinney's documentary Notes On Blindness also receiving multiple nominations.

Taking place at Old Billingsgate in east London on December 4, this year's awards will be hosted by Jennifer Saunders, marking only the second time a woman has hosted the event, following Andi Oliver in 2003. This year has also seen the introduction of two new categories: best debut screenwriter and breakthrough producer (replacing producer of the year).

Despite the lack of a headline sponsor for this year's awards (last year it was Moët), 2016 has been a year of expansion for BIFA aimed at establishing the organisation as a year-round brand.

Among the new initiatives is the BIFA Independents screening programme, supported by the BFI, which will see a BIFA-nominated or award-winning film screened every month at Vue, Odeon and Everyman cinemas throughout the UK.

BIFA also launched BIFA Meets, a series of on-stage interviews with past nominees and winners. Two have already taken place, with Michael Sheen and Brendan Gleeson.

What are you most satisfied to have achieved in the past year?

Deena Wallace: We're starting to make strides in establishing a public profile through the BIFA Meets series and the screenings programme. We're doing more this year with less than we've had before. It's been a tough year, but we've done a lot of what we wanted to do. We've had to work to a tighter budget without a headline sponsor, but we have had a lot of support from the industry and some new sponsors, which has helped to bridge the gap.

Now that you've worked for BIFA for two years, what's been the biggest misconception you would like to correct?

Amy Gustin: The [small] scale of the organisation. I thought people knew more about the nuts and bolts of how BIFA is run, but I don't think they do. …

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