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A solid year for the U.K.’s indie film industry was celebrated on Sunday night at the 2017 British Independent Film Awards.
The ceremony, held at Old Billingsgate in London, saw God’s Own Country, Lady Macbeth and The Death of Stalin emerge as the main winners.
God’s Own Country, Francis Lee’s critically lauded microbudget LGBT drama about a young British sheep farmer, went home with the top prize, the best British independent film, along with best actor honors for Josh O’Connor and best debut screenwriter honors for Lee (it’s also his debut feature). The film had already won the best sound award in the BIFA craft categories, which were announced Nov. 23.
Lady Macbeth, William Oldroyd’s acclaimed period adaptation, which had previously won for best cinematography and best costume design, added best screenplay honors for Alice Birch, a best actress nod for Florence Pugh and a most promising newcomer win for Naomi Ackie.
Emmy-winning Veep creator Armando Iannucci saw his return to the big screen with The Death of Stalin also serve up a winner, with Simon Russell Beale being named best supporting actor. The historical satire had already won for best production design, best makeup and best casting.
Elsewhere, the Film4-backed satire I Am Not a Witch received three awards: a breakthrough producer nod for Emily Morgan and both the best director prize and the Dougle Hickox award for best debut director for Rungano Nyoni, This is only the second time a helmer has won both awards (the first was Anton Corbijn for Control in 2007).
Best supporting actress honors went to Patricia Clarkson for Sally Potter’s The Party; Get Out was named best international independent film[ Almost Heaven, directed by Carol Salter, was chosen as best documentary; and Fish Story snagged the best British short film prize.
Femi Oguns, founder of the Identity Agency Group and Identity School of Acting, was presented with the special jury prize. Ogun, as well as being actor John Boyega’s agent and business partner, has long been lauded for tackling the lack of diversity on British screens.
The Richard Harris Award recognizing outstanding contribution to British film by an actor was presented to Vanessa Redgrave.
Host Mark Gatiss, known for writing and acting on such shows as Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes, opened his monologue by saying, “it’s been another dreadful year for Planet Earth. Of course, it’s easy to despair. So let’s take a moment.” He later added: “It’s Christmas soon — probably our last.”
Gatiss then joked about everything from Hollywood’s focus on superhero films, Donald Trump’s White House tenure, Brexit and the decision to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer as John Paul Getty in Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World after a slew of allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Spacey.
The host quipped that “Spider-Man will be rebooted again before I finish this sentence,” and that “January saw a shock remake of Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will [that] just turned out to be a live feed from the White House.” Gatiss also joked that award shows are like Christmas Day, with people getting overexcited, overfed, drunk and secretly longing to go home and “watch an old Christopher Plummer movie like American Beauty.”
Georg Szalai contributed to this report.
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