"British film isn't about tea, biscuits and the royal family"

The 8th annual British Independent Film Awards has unveiled its 2005 nominees, celebrating every conceivable kind of independent movie made in Britain. Three films in particular got BIFA’s juices flowing: first-time director Laurence Dunmore’s grungy Restoration drama The Libertine and Stephen Frears’ period romp Mrs Henderson Presents, which both received eight nominations, and Fernando Meireilles’ ace John Le Carre adaptation The Constant Gardener, which garnered seven nominations.

“When British films succeed, I think they are among the best in the world,” Elliot Grove, organiser and founder of the BIFAs and the Raindance Film Festival, tells totalfilm.com. “British film isn’t always tea, biscuits and the royal family. Because Britain is so multicultural, you get so many films made here that aren’t made in English.”

So with all this great talent on home shores, why does Grove think Brit films (at least those not made by Working Title or Aardman) fail to ignite the box office? Elliot blames UK audiences, who often won’t go to Brit flicks unless they get the Yank seal of approval. “New British films are greeted with applause in Europe and America but we tend to only go and see a British film if it makes it big in the States. Which saddens me because British filmmaking is known elsewhere as some of the most exciting in the world.”

That’s why Grove’s long-running mission is to make the BIFAs one of the biggest and best film awards ceremonies in the UK. “This is it, the aim of the awards is to turn some of our wonderful British actors into stars,” he says. “This year we’re acknowledging Tilda Swinton with the Richard Harris Award for outstanding contribution to the craft. She’s been in so many films but this is her turn to be recognised.”

This year’s gong-winners will be announced at BIFA’s awards ceremony at the Hammersmith Palais on 30 November.

Nominees for the 8th Annual British Independent Film Awards 2005.

Best British Independent Film
The Constant Gardener
The Descent
The Libertine
Mrs Henderson Presents
Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story

Best Actor
Johnny Depp (The Libertine)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Kinky Boots)
Ralph Fiennes (The Constant Gardener)
Bob Hoskins (Mrs Henderson Presents)
Matthew MacFadyen (In My Father’s Den)

Best Actress
Joan Allen (Yes)
Judi Dench (Mrs Henderson Presents)
Natasha Richardson (Asylum)
Emily Watson (Wah-Wah)
Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener)

Best Supporting Actor/Actress
Rob Brydon (Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story)
Tom Hollander (The Libertine)
Bill Nighy (The Constant Gardener)
Rosamund Pike (The Libertine)
Kelly Reilly (Mrs Henderson Presents)

Most Promising Newcomer
Samina Awan (Love + Hate)
Emily Barclay (In My Father’s Den)
Thelma Barlow (Mrs Henderson Presents)
Alex Nathan Etel (Millions)
Rupert Friend (The Libertine)

Best Director
Laurence Dunmore (The Libertine)
Stephen Frears (Mrs Henderson Presents)
Neil Marshall (The Descent)
Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener)
Michael Winterbottom (Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story)

Best Screenplay
Jeffrey Caine (The Constant Gardener)
Frank Cottrell Boyce (Millions)
Geoff Dean & Tim Firth (Kinky Boots)
Martin Hardy (Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story)
Martin Sherman (Mrs Henderson Presents)

Douglas Hickox Award (Debut Director)
Gaby Dellal (On A Clear Day)
Laurence Dunmore (The Libertine)
Richard E Grant (Wah-Wah)
Annie Griffin (Festival)
Julian Jarrold (Kinky Boots)

Best Technical Achievement
César Charlone, Cinematography (The Constant Gardener)
Peter Christelis, Editing (Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story)
John Harris, Editing (The Descent)
Sandy Powell, Wardrobe (Mrs Henderson Presents)
Ben Van Os, Production Design (The Libertine)

Best Achievement in Production
The Business
Guy X
It’s All Gone Pete Tong
Song of Songs

Best Foreign Film
Broken Flowers
Sequestro Express
The Woodsman

Best Documentary
Andrew & Jeremy Get Married
Black Sun
Liberace Of Baghdad
Sisters In Law

The Raindance Award
Billy Childish is Dead
Sam Jackson’s Secret Video Diary
Evil Aliens

The Variety UK Personality of the Year
Keira Knightley

The Richard Harris Award for Outstanding Achievement
Tilda Swinton

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