British Independent Film Awards: 'For Sama' Wins Top Prize

2:10 PM 12/1/2019

by Alex Ritman

'The Personal History of David Copperfield' was also a big winner at the BIFAs.

For Sama Still 1 - Cannes Film Festival Publicity- H 2019
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

Syrian civil war documentary For Sama received an awards season boost on Sunday night as it picked up a number of top honors at the British Independent Film Awards.

The film by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts — a scarring portrait of a young mother’s experience during the ongoing Middle East conflict — earned best British independent film, director and documentary honors at the ceremony. Those awards were on top of the BIFA prize for best editing, which was announced last month. 

Another big BIFA winner was Armando Iannucci's The Personal History of David Copperfield. A lively twist on Charles Dickens' classic, the film earned Hugh Laurie the best supporting actor award for his portrayal of Mr. Dick and the best screenplay award for Iannucci and Simon Blackwell. Additionally, it was previously announced that the pic earned honors for best casting, costume design and production design.

Elsewhere, Renee Zellweger saw some extra fuel added to her Oscars engine as she was tapped as best actress for playing Judy Garland in Judy, while Josh O'Connor — who can currently be seen as Prince Charles on The Crown — won the best actor prize for Only You. O'Connor won the same award in 2017 for God's Own Country. 

As previously announced, Kristin Scott Thomas was presented with the 2019 Richard Harris Award for outstanding contribution by an actor to British film, while outgoing British Film Institute CEO Amanda Nevill was awarded a special jury prize. 

See the full list of BIFA winners below.

  • Best British Independent Film

    For Sama - WINNER
    The Personal History Of David Copperfield 
    The Souvenir
    Wild Rose

  • Best Director

    Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts, For Sama - WINNER
    Oliver Hermanus, Moffie
    Joanna Hogg, The Souvenir
    Mark Jenkin, Bait
    Asif Kapadia, Diego Maradona

  • Best Screenplay

    Joanna Hogg, The Souvenir
    Armando Iannucci, Simon Blackwell, The Personal History Of David Copperfield - WINNER
    Paul Laverty, Sorry We Missed You
    Peter Strickland, In Fabric
    Nicole Taylor, Wild Rose

  • Best Documentary

    Coup 53 
    Diego Maradona 
    For Sama
     - WINNER
    Seahorse Jeanie Finlay, Andrea Cornwell
    Tell Me Who I Am 

  • Best Actress

    Jessie Buckley, Wild Rose
    Holliday Grainger, Animals
    Sally Hawkins, Eternal Beauty
    Vicky Knight, Dirty God
    Renée Zellweger, Judy - WINNER

  • Best Actor

    Sam Adewunmi, The Last Tree
    Tom Burke, The Souvenir
    Kris Hitchen, Sorry We Missed You
    Josh O’Connor, Only You - WINNER
    Dev Patel, The Personal History Of David Copperfield

  • Best Supporting Actress

    Jessica Barden, Scarborough
    Ruthxjiah Bellenea, The Last Tree - WINNER
    Elizabeth Debicki, Vita & Virginia 
    Tilda Swinton, The Personal History Of David Copperfield 
    Julie Walters, Wild Rose

  • Best Supporting Actor

    Chiwetel Ejiofor, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind
    Hugh Laurie, The Personal History Of David Copperfield - WINNER
    Edilson Manuel Olbera Nuñez, Yuli – The Carlos Acosta Story
    Peter Mullan, The Vanishing
    Bluey Robinson, Dirty God

  • Most Promising Newcomer

    Sam Adewunmi, The Last Tree - WINNER
    Vicky Knight, Dirty God
    Lorn Macdonald, Beats
    Roxanne Scrimshaw, Lynn + Lucy
    Honor Swinton Byrne, The Souvenir

  • The Douglas Hickox Award (Debut Director)

    Will Becher, Richard Phelan, A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon
    Fyzal Boulifa, Lynn + Lucy
    Ninian Doff, Boyz In The Wood
    Chiwetel Ejiofor, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind
    Harry Wootliff, Only You - WINNER

  • Debut Screenwriter

    Kieran Hurley, Beats
    Lisa Owens, Days Of The Bagnold Summer
    Nicole Taylor, Wild Rose
    Emma Jane Unsworth, Animals - WINNER
    Harry Wootliff, Only You

  • Breakthrough Producer

    Finn Bruce, Tucked
    Kate Byers, Linn Waite, Bait - WINNER
    Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor, Blue Story [Also Produced By Damian Jones]
    Becky Read, Three Identical Strangers [Also Produced By Grace Hughes-Hallett]
    Jack Sidey, Moffie [Also Produced By Eric Abraham]

  • The Raindance Discovery Award

    A Bump Along The Way 
    Children Of The Snow Land
     - WINNER
    Here For Life 
    The Street 

  • Best Casting Sponsored

    Shaheen Baig, In Fabric
    Shaheen Baig, Aisha Bywaters, The Last Tree
    Kahleen Crawford, Caroline Stewart, Only You
    Kahleen Crawford, Wild Rose
    Sarah Crowe, The Personal History Of David Copperfield - WINNER

  • Best Cinematography

    Ole Bratt Birkeland, Judy
    Benjamin Kracun, Beats - WINNER
    Zac Nicholson, The Personal History Of David Copperfield
    Jamie D Ramsay, Moffie
    Ari Wegner, In Fabric

  • Best Costume Design

    Suzie Harman, Robert Worley, The Personal History Of David Copperfield - WINNER
    Anna Mary Scott Robbins, Wild Rose
    Grace Snell, The Souvenir
    Jany Temime, Judy
    Jo Thompson, In Fabric

  • Best Editing

    Mick Audsley, Peter Lambert, The Personal History Of David Copperfield
    Mark Jenkin, Bait
    Chris King, Diego Maradona
    Chloe Lambourne, Simon Mcmahon, For Sama - WINNER
    Helle Le Fevre, The Souvenir

  • Best Effects

    Howard Jones, A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon - WINNER
    Paul Mann, In Fabric
    Andy Quinn, The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind

  • Best Make-Up & Hair Design

    Morten Jacobsen, Rogier Samuels, Lindelotte Van Der Meer, Dirty God
    Karen Hartley-Thomas, The Personal History Of David Copperfield 
    Emma Scott, In Fabric
    Jody Williams, Wild Rose
    Jeremy Woodhead, Judy - WINNER

  • Best Music

    Jack Arnold, Wild Rose - WINNER
    Cavern Of Anti-Matter, In Fabric
    Nainita Desai, For Sama
    Antonio Pinto, Diego Maradona
    Jd Twitch, Penelope Trappes, Stephen Hindman, Beats

  • Best Production Design

    Cristina Casali, The Personal History Of David Copperfield - WINNER
    Stéphane Collonge, The Souvenir
    Kave Quinn, Judy
    Anne Seibel, The White Crow
    Paki Smith, In Fabric

  • Best Sound

    Anna My Bertmark, Jonathan Seale, Jules Woods, Gwen
    David Bowtle-Mcmillan, Joakim Sundström, Robert Farr, Beats - WINNER
    Stephen Griffiths, Tim Cavagin, Max Walsh, Andy Shelley, Diego Maradona
    Lee Walpole, Colin Nicholson, Stuart Hilliker, Wild Rose
    Martin Pavey, Rob Entwistle, In Fabric

  • Best British Short Film

    Anna - WINNER
    Boiling Point  
    The Devil’s Harmony 
    Serious Tingz 

  • Best International Independent Film

    Ash Is Purest White 
    Marriage Story 
     - WINNER
    Portrait Of A Lady