The 2021 British Independent Film Awards were held on December 5th, 2021 at Old Billingsgate, London, and the nominations were announced on November 3rd, 2021, by actors Samuel Adewunmi and Mimi Keene via live stream from the Curzon Soho in London. The British Independent Film Awards are held to recognize the best British independent cinema and filmmaking talent from the United Kingdom. Asim Chaudhry hosted the 2021 British Independent Film Awards.
"After Love," directed by first-time director Aleem Khan, has dominated the 2021 British Independent Film Awards, winning six awards. The movie is written and directed by Aleem Khan and stars Joanna Scanlan as Mary Hussain. The widowed Muslim convert who uncovers the secret life led by her late husband managed to impress the critics and the audience and managed to secure six awards. After Mary’s husband’s burial, she discovers that he had a secret just twenty-one miles across the English Channel in Calais.
The six 2021 British Independent Film Awards that "After Love" won included Best Independent Film, Best Director, Best Debut Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor for Talid Ariss. The film was released in the United Kingdom on June 4th, 2021.
On winning the awards, Aleem Khan said, "Is this happening? This is so crazy, there are honestly no words." This film, at its core, is about strangers seeing themselves in one another. I think right now, in the world we are living in, we can take a lot from that. "
Joanna Scanlan, who won the award for Best Actress, dedicated her award to Aleem Khan’s mother and said, "I want to thank Aleem’s mum. I met her and she loaned me her clothes. She gave me a lesson in humility and a lesson in love. This is a story about love and what happens when you lose it. The only way to learn to love again is to go through a lot of stuff. She is my inspiration for this performance; there is no doubt about that, so thank you.
At the same event, actor Riz Ahmed was honored with "The Richard Harris Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Actor to British Film," who dedicated the award to his family. The honor was presented by Yann Demange, and he said, "He has championed the often ignored view. The industry did not make room for Riz, but he carved a space for himself and a whole generation. "
While accepting the honor, Riz Ahmed said, "My family told me everything there is to know about storytelling and acting. I want to thank my wife for teaching me that telling a story is to open your heart. I want to thank my sister for just being so dramatic. I want to thank my brother, who’s faced down so many demons for me, both real and imagined. And I want to thank my parents who taught me, every day, through example, what it is to tell a story and what it is to act. And the way they showed me this was every day, five times a day, they would stand before the Creator, before creativity itself, and empty themselves of ego and let something bigger than themselves and other than themselves take its place. And that’s what it is to tell a story. "
Riz Ahmed’s eight-minute speech earned him a standing ovation. Despite earning eight nominations at the 2021 British Independent Film Awards, Sir Kenneth Branagh’s "Belfast," which is an autobiography about his childhood in Northern Ireland, failed to win any awards. Vinette Robinson, who starred in "Boiling Point", won the award for Best Supporting Actress, and while accepting the award, she said, "Wow, I am so proud to be in this film. It was made with such an incredible group of people with a very small amount of money, a lot of heart and dedication. It is a true ensemble piece."
Lizzie Francke, BFI Film Fun Team, said, "Huge congratulations to all the BIFA winners – a celebration of films which are all the more remarkable given they overcame the impossible as they were made and/or released amid a global pandemic. It was a fantastic night for the filmmakers supported by the BFI Film Fund. For us as a team, it’s a privilege to be part of the journey of these exceptional films. Special mention to After Love’s success – our fund exists to enable talent to take risks and experiment, and this spectacular debut is an example of what can be achieved when a new filmmaking voice is supported to realize their vision, and we can’t wait to see what Aleem does next".
Winners at the 2021 British Independent Film Awards
The Richard Harris Award for Outstanding contributions by an actor to British Film- Riz Ahmed
Best Director- Aleem Khan (After Love)
Best Actress- Joanna Scanlan (After Love)
Best Actor- Adeel Akhtar (Ali and Ava)
Best Supporting Actress- Vinette Robinson – Boiling Point
Best Supporting Actor- Talid Ariss (After Love)
Best Screenplay- Aleem Khan (After Love)
Best Cinematography- Matthew Lewis (Boiling Point)
Best Costume Design- Grace Snell (The Souvenir Part II)
Best Music- Connie Farr, Harry Escott (Ali and Ava)
Best Effects- Mike Knights, Steven Bray, Dan Martin, Leigh Cranston (DASHCAM)
Best Editing- Helle Le Fevre (The Souvenir Part II)
Best Make-up and Hair- Vickie Lang, Kristyan Mallett, Donald Mclness (The Electrical Life of Louis Wain)
Best Sound- James Drake, Rob Entwistle, Kiff Mcmanus (Boiling Point)
Best Production Design- Stéphane Collonge (The Souvenir Part II)
Breakthrough Performance- Nell Barlow (Sweetheart)
Best Casting- Carolyn McLeod (Boiling Point)
Best International Independent Film- Flee (Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Amin Nawabi, Monica Hellstrøm, Signe Byrge Sørensen)
Best British Short Film supported by BFI Network- Femme (Sam H. Freeman, Ng Choon Ping, Sam Riztenberg, Hayley Williams, Rienjke Attoh)
Best Documentary- Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché (Paul Sng, Celeste Bell, Zoë Howe, Rebecca Mark-Lawson, Matthew Silverman, Daria Nitsche)
The Douglas Hickox Award (Best Debut Director)- Aleem Khan (After Love)
Best Debut Screenwriter- Cathy Brady (Wildfire)
Breakthrough Producer- Michelle Antoniades (Sweetheart)
The Raindance Discovery Award- Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché (Paul Sng, Celeste Bell, Zoë Howe, Rebecca Mark-Lawson, Matthew Silverman, Daria Nitsche)