Rules and Eligibility


The British Independent Film Awards are for theatrical feature films and short films. The majority of categories are only open to British, independent films. There are separate eligibility criteria for international independent films.

In all cases, final decisions about a film’s eligibility rest with BIFA’s Nomination Committee: under exceptional circumstances, inclusion and consideration of films which do not strictly comply with the below criteria will be subject to the discretion of the Committee.

Entry for 2015 is now closed.

Release requirements: British features

Films must be intended for theatrical release, over 70 minutes in length


Have a public screening to a paying audience either on general release in the UK between 1 December 2014 and 30 November 2015


Screen at a British-based film festival or selected international festivals between 1 December 2014 and 30 November 2015. 

Recognised international festivals: Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, Venice, San Sebastian, Telluride, AFI Fest, Berlin, New York.

Films which have a qualifying festival screening but which are scheduled for theatrical release (i.e. have confirmed distribution) after 12 February 2016 may choose whether to enter in the current year or to wait until next year. Please contact BIFA to discuss this.

No re-releases can be entered. Once entered, a film can be withdrawn up a week before the first round of voting opens. Films that are withdrawn at this point can be entered in subsequent years, if eligible. Otherwise, previously entered films are not eligible.


Release requirements: shorts

For British short films that have been accepted as part of the Official Selection at one of BIFA’s recognised film festivals OR have won an award during the eligibility period.

Release requirements: international features

Films must have a theatrical release in the UK between 1 December 2014 and 30 November 2015. Films released between 1 December 2015 and 12 February 2016 and later may also be entered by prior agreement with BIFA and if the films are available for voters to see.


Where there is any major studio substantially funding a film, the total budget must not exceed $20million. Films are not defined as ‘independent’ strictly on the terms of financing.



It has been produced or majority co-produced by a British company OR is in receipt of at least 51% of its budget from a British source or sources OR it qualifies as a British Film under the DCMS guidelines AND includes sufficient creative elements from the UK.

This applies to all categories except for Best International Independent Film.

Where an individual must be British to qualify for an award, or for the purposes of identifying the nationality of a film, we will ask for the nationality listed on your passport. If you are unsure, please use this test and follow the process through to see if you are a British citizen, have indefinite leave to remain or permanent residence.


Films do not have to be submitted in all categories, however the Nomination Committee may choose to consider a film in additional categories to those submitted.

Credits and eligibility decisions are based on the credits featured on exhibited prints of the film.

Only one award trophy will be issued to the winner of each category. Where multiple named nominees have been accepted by BIFA, additional trophies can be purchased in the event of an award win.

Best British Independent Film, Best International Independent Film

Fully-credited writers, producers and directors may be listed as nominees.

Executive producer, associate producer, co-producer or other producer credits are not eligible for nominations or awards.

Best Director

Awarded to the director. Co-directors are only eligible for nomination where there is not also a director credited.


Best Screenplay

Additional material by or similar credits are not eligible for nomination.


The Douglas Hickox Award

For a British director for their debut fiction feature film. Previous television or documentary director credits do not exclude an individual from consideration.

This award is presented for promise and potential as well as achievement.

The estate of Douglas Hickox shall present a cheque for £500 to the winner. 


Producer of the Year

This award replaces the Achievement in Production category and recognises exceptional endeavour and achievement by producers. This may include discovering new talent, exceptional or innovative fundraising, making the most of a challenging budget, innovation in finding audiences for the film or in otherwise exemplifying the spirit of the independent producer.

All fully credited producers may be listed for nomination. Executive producer, associate producer, co-producer or other producer credits are not eligible for nomination.

Entrants should submit a 500 word statement supporting their application.


Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress

Entrants may select which category a performer should be considered for, but BIFA’s Nomination Committee will make final decisions about eligibility.


Most Promising Newcomer

This award recognises promise and potential as well as achievement by a new British actor. Performers are eligible if they are taking their first significant role in a theatrical feature film. Performers who have significant television/theatre credits are unlikely to be eligible.

Entrant should please highlight eligible performers when entering their film.

Best Technical Achievement

This award encompasses the following: editing, cinematography, sound (design and editing), special effects, visual effects, casting, costume design, make up, hair design, production design. Heads of department may be listed as nominees.

This award is for exceptional and innovative examples of each of these disciplines. Votes will be tabulated in such a way that only one representative per discipline will be included. As with all categories, there will be five nominations.

Entrants should please highlight extraordinary achievement by a particular department and supply a 500 word statement in support of their application explaining why the achievement is exceptional and how it was achieved.


Best British Short

For films with a maximum running time of 40 minutes, including credits. 

Fully-credited writers, producers and directors may be listed as nominees.


Best Documentary

Eligible films must be non-fiction. They should be photographed in actual occurrence, or employ partial re-enactment, stock footage, stills, animation, stop-motion or other techniques, as long as the emphasis is on fact and not on fiction.

Fully-credited producers and directors may be listed as nominees.

The Discovery Award

This award highlights innovation, uniqueness of vision, maverick filmmaking and risk-taking, generally in films with a budget under £500k. It replaces the Raindance Award.

Nominees will be at the discretion of the sub-group responsible for the adjudication of this category, and are likely to be the writing/producing/directing team. Entrants may propose nominees for the sub-group to take into consideration.

Entrants should submit a 500 word supporting statement highlighting which aspects of the film should be considered for this award and why.

Honorary Awards

BIFA also presents honorary awards, which are bestowed either by BIFA’s Board and Advisory Committee or by its independent jury/ies, appointed annually.

These honorary awards include The Richard Harris Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Film by an Actor, which is decided with the input of the Harris family.

All decisions made by BIFA are final and no correspondence will be entered into as to why particular entries were or were not nominated.

Entry for 2015 is now closed. If you have any questions about entry, please email us.

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