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‘Own Country’ wins big at BIFAs – ‘Lady Macbeth’ another multiple prize-winner

LOS ANGELES, Dec 11, (RTRS): “… Own Country” was the big winner at the British Indepdendent Film Awards (BIFAs) on Sunday, winning best British independent film, best actor for Josh O’Connor, and best debut screenwiter for Francis Lee, who also directed the England-set gay romance.

“Lady Macbeth” was another multiple prize-winner, taking home the awards for best screenplay for Alice Birch, best actress for Florence Pugh, and most promising newcomer for Naomie Ackie. Armando Iannucci’s “Death of Stalin” picked up four awards, which were handed out Sunday evening at a starry awards ceremony in London.

The British independent movie industry turned out in force, although the snow that had blanketed parts of Britain overnight kept double award-winner Rungano Nyoni from attending and had Lee telling the crowd he needed digging out of his home in Yorkshire, northern England, to make the bash.

Host Mark Gatiss opened proceedings by announcing “it’s been another dreadful year for planet Earth,” adding that “January saw a shock remake of Leni Riefenstahl’s ‘Triumph of the Will’…which turned out to be a live feed from the White House.”

The “Sherlock” scribe and actor — “that’s Mycroft Holmes over there,” said Christian Slater while presenting the best supporting actress award — went on to joke that the London crowd would probably rather be at home “watching Christopher Plummer classic ‘American Beauty,’” before riffing on Brexit and concluding that independent film would be one of the things that gets the country through tough times.

Gary Oldman — considered by many to be the front-runner for the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” — was on hand at the ceremony to collect the Variety Award from Kristin Scott Thomas. The award recognizes the global impact he has made throughout his career as an icon of British film and filmmaking.

The Richard Harris Award for outstanding contribution to British film by an actor was presented to Vanessa Redgrave by Richard Harris’ son Jared Harris and Redgrave’s daughter Joely Richardson.

“I Am Not a Witch” won three awards: breakthrough producer for Emily Morgan, and the Douglas Hickox Award (best debut director) and best director for Rungano Nyoni, just the second time the same director has won both, after Anton Corbijn for “Control” in 2007.

Simon Russell Beale won best supporting actor for his performance in “The Death of Stalin,” which had already won best production design, best makeup and hair design, and best casting. Patricia Clarkson won the best supporting actress award for “The Party.”

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was a double winner, with the best editing and best music category wins. Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” bagged the only international award on offer, winning best international independent film.

By distributor, Altitude, with “Lady Macbeth, and Entertainment One, with “The Death of Stalin,” came out joint top, with five wins each. Picturehouse also fared well with its “… Own Country” and “The Party” driving it to four wins.

The winners in full:

* Best British Independent Film: “… Own Country”

* Best Director: Rungano Nyoni, “I Am Not a Witch”

* Best Screenplay: Alice Birch, “Lady Macbeth”

* Best Actress: Florence Pugh, “Lady Macbeth”

* Best Actor: Josh O’Connor, “… Own Country”

* Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Clarkson, “The Party”

* Best Supporting Actor: Simon Russell Beale, “The Death of Stalin”

* Most Promising Newcomer: Naomi Ackie, “Lady Macbeth”

* The Douglas Hickox Award (Best Debut Director): Rungano Nyoni, “I Am Not a Witch”

* Debut Screenwriter: Francis Lee, “… Own Country”

* Breakthrough Producer: Emily Morgan, “I Am Not a Witch”

* The Discovery Award: “In Another Life”

* Best Documentary: “Almost Heaven” Carol Salter

* Best British Short Film: “Fish Story”

* Best Cinematography: Ari Wegner, “Lady Macbeth”

* Best Casting: Sarah Crowe, “The Death of Stalin”

* Best Costume Design: Holly Waddington, “Lady Macbeth”

* Best Editing: Jon Gregory, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

* Best Effects: Nick Allder, Ben White, “The Ritual”

* Best Make Up & Hair Design: Nicole Stafford, “The Death of Stalin”

* Best Music: Carter Burwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

* Best Production Design: Cristina Casali, “The Death of Stalin”

* Best Sound: Anna Bertmark, “… Own Country”

* Best International Independent Film: “Get Out”


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