BBC Films behind a third of BIFA noms

Indie filmmakers make the most of broadcaster cash

LONDON -- BBC Films, the pubcaster's standalone filmmaking unit, could lay claim to backing, developing or co-producing titles that Monday laid claim to 26 -- or more than a third -- of the nominations for the upcoming British Independent Film Awards.

The broadcaster's filmmaking unit was involved in a slew of titles mentioned in dispatches including Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank," "An Education," directed by Lone Sherfig, Armando Iannucci's "In The Loop" and Jane Campion's "Bright Star."

Also from the BBC Films roster came Tom Hooper's "The Damned United" and Scott Hicks' "The Boys Are Back".

Given the harsh economic times and a perceived lack of co-production opportunities for indie filmmakers, the involvement of broadcasters in movie development and production here in the U.K. is more apparent than ever.

With both the BBC and Channel 4 practically the only broadcasters in town backing big screen ambitions with combined seed money of less than $35 million between them annually, the involvement indicates an ability to punch above their combined weights.

Both the BBC and Channel 4 aim to nurture talent on both sides of the lens to build a stable of movie makers and actors to employ.

The BIFA acting nominations with BBC Films behind them include names such as Carey Mulligan, Rosamund Pike, Peter Capaldi and Abbie Cornish while directors include Campion, Arnold and Hooper.

And indie producers such as Kevin Loader ("In The Loop"), Kees Kasander ("Fish Tank"), Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey ("An Education") also took a turn with BBC Films.

BBC Films creative director Christine Langan described the nominations as "a bumper crop" for the unit. "This is a testament to their range of talent, originality and commitment," Langan said.

Film4 backed "Nowhere Boy," from Sam Taylor Wood and "The Unloved," Samantha Morton's directorial debut on this year's roster.