British Independent Film Awards Goes ‘Gender Neutral’

on stage during The Moet British Independent Film Awards at Old Billingsgate Market on December 7, 2014 in London, England.
Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for The Moet British Independent Film Awards

One of the United Kingdom’s top entertainment awards, the British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs), has moved to cancel genders, making its award categories gender neutral going forward.

“Marking the Awards’ 25th year with a shake-up to traditional performance categories, BIFA will present five acting awards that celebrate and reward the outstanding acting talent on display in British independent film,” the organization said in a Tuesday press release, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“The new performance categories are best lead performance, best supporting performance, best joint lead performance – for two (or exceptionally three) performances that are the joint focus of the film – and best ensemble. BIFA’s established Breakthrough Performance award sponsored by Netflix remains unchanged and rounds out the new set of awards.”

BIFA also added a category titled, “best debut director – feature documentary.”
The best music award will also be split into two awards; the best original music and the best music supervision.

The BIFAs join a growing number of film industry award organizations going gender neutral or offering certain categories as gender neutral awards.

Leading the pack, the Grammys went gender neutral in 2012. In 2017, MTV Movie & TV Awards handed out its first gender neutral awards to Taraji P. Henson and Vin Diesel. The awards also featured a “Best Actor in a Movie” award which went to Emma Watson.

The trend continued in several smaller shows but in 2020, the organizers of the Berlin International Film Festival announced the end of gender segregated awards starting in 2021, saying that “not separating the awards in the acting field according to gender comprises a signal for a more gender-sensitive awareness in the film industry.”

Also, last year, the Gotham Awards, the annual New York ceremony for independent film, also announced that it was shifting to gender neutral award categories.

The 2022 BIFA nominations will be announced on November 3, and the awards will be doled out one month later.

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