2004 saw the Awards remain at what many felt to be its natural home, the Hammersmith Palais, although there was extra significance with the choice of host, the ex-punk turned filmmaker Richard Jobson, who had performed at the venue with his band The Skids back in the early 80s.
The band for this evening, however, were the enchanting Incredibly Strange Film Band, who entertained the audience with their covers of classic theme tunes through the evening and have continued to do so every year since.
The nominations were dominated like never before by two heavy-hitters, the new films of BIFA favourites Mike Leigh and Shane Meadows – Vera Drake and Dead Man’s Shoes respectively. In the end the jury, which was particularly high-profile under the chairmanship of Anthony Mingella and featured such luminaries as Mark Cousins, Sam Taylor Wood, Helena Bonham Carter, Cate Blanchett, Rosamund Pike, and Christian Slater, opted for the former film and Vera Drake swept the board, leaving its rival with not one Award.
Other highlights of the evening were the special Awards – Bob Hoskins winning the Richard Harris Award and the producer Norma Heyman being elected by her peers to collect the Special Jury Prize.
Finally, 2004 also saw the introduction of the Raindance Award in recognition of the best film at the Raindance Film Festival, the founders of the Awards – the inaugural winner was The Barn, directed by Ruaridh Webster.
Hailing from Edinburgh, Richard Jobson took his first step into the public spotlight aged only 16, as front man for punk band, The Skids from 1979-82, scoring a top ten hit with INTO THE VALLEY in 1979 After a further foray into the music industry with THE ARMOURY SHOW and a stint as a model, Richard made a career presenting music and film programs for Sky television throughout the 1990s. 2003 saw his directorial debut with 16 YEARS OF ALCHOHOL nominated for the Golden Leopard at Locarno, awarded a special commendation at the Edinburgh Film Festival, nominated for two BAFTA Scotland awards and nominated for three British Independent Film awards, winning Best Supporting Actor for Susan Lynch and The Douglas Hickox Award for Best Directorial Debut. His second film THE PURIFIERS played at this year's Raindance Film Festival and is about to go on general release, he is now in production on his latest project A WOMAN IN WINTER.
The Hammersmith Palais has long been one of the country's most legendary venues playing host to all the most important music genres that swept the UK over the last 100 years. Originally christened the Palais de Danse, it was launched in 1919 to introduce Europe to jazz. It quickly shot to fame for its stylish décor, giant ballroom and live bands- qualities that have stayed consistently true to the venue today. In the 1920's it was all about the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, until swing and be-bop took over in the 1940's and 50's. By the 1970's The Hammersmith Palais had become a hotbed for punk rock, Ska and reggae. The Clash named one of their most famous songs after the venue: "(White Man) in the Hammersmith Palais". This cult record has since been revered by all sorts of stars including the notorious Steve Jack Ass. The 80's and 90's saw all the biggest British bands headline with unforgettable appearances from the likes of the Sex Pistols, The Police, U2, Primal Scream, Oasis, Ian Brown and more. By 2000 the Palais reverted back to being a dance venue shortly after Slipknot tried setting fire to the place. They now host some of the most popular nights in clubland like School Disco. 2003 sees the Hammersmith Palais fuse dance with rock and a programme of events which offer both forms of music, from past attractions such as Roni Size, to forthcoming live rock act, Grinspoon and this years NME awards. By promoting the two biggest genres of the moment the Palais protects its place in the history books as one of the UK's most important venues.