British Independent Film Awards 2021: Riz Ahmed honoured for outstanding contribution as After Love triumphs

British Independent Film Awards 2021: Riz Ahmed honoured for outstanding contribution as After Love triumphs

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Riz Ahmed was honoured for his roles in Encounter, Shifty, Four Lions, and Mogul Mowgli, at tonight’s British Independent Film Awards (Bifa), while After Love also scooped a number of accolades.

Before the celebrities enjoyed themselves in the photo booth backstage, the Girls actor took to the stage to accept The Richard Harris Award.

Presenting the gong, Yann Demange said: ‘He has championed the often ignored view…the industry did not make room for Riz, he carved a space for himself and a whole generation.’

As he collected his prize, Riz told the audience: ‘I want to thank my teachers for telling me if I messed around in class I might get expelled but if I did it on the stage I might get a round of applause.’

The actor thanked his family for helping him to ‘learn the art of story-telling,’ and his sister for being ‘so dramatic’.

He added: ‘I grew up coat switching, I thought acting was about becoming someone else, I hope the next 15 years is about learning to take the masks off and offering more of myself, this is possible too, so if you feel held, thank you for holding me.’

Elsewhere, After Love triumphed with six wins and beat titles like Belfast and Boiling Point to best independent film.

‘Is this actually happening? This is so crazy there are honestly no words,’ the film’s director Aleem Khan said as he picked up the gong.

‘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 won best actress for her portrayal of a Muslim convert in After Love, uncovering the secret life led by her late husband.

The 60-year-old star dedicated her award to Aleem’s mother, saying: ‘I want to thank Aleem’s mum, I met her and she loaned me her clothes, she gave me a lesson in humility, a lesson in love.

‘This is a story of 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.’

The awards night held in London was the second Bifa ceremony to take place in 2021, the first unfolding virtually in February where Sarah Gavron’s Rocks emerged triumphant.

Despite leading the nominations this year racking up 11 nods, Sir Kenneth Branagh’s autobiographical film Belfast, about his childhood in Northern Ireland, did not take home any awards.

Boiling Point, starring Stephen Graham as a chef under pressure, received one award for best supporting actress, which went to Vinette Robinson.

Accepting her award, she exclaimed: ‘Wow, I am so proud to be in this film it was made with such an incredible group of people with a very little amount of money, a lot of heart, dedication it is a true ensemble piece.’

British Independent Film Awards 2021 winners list

Best British Independent Film – After Love

Best Director – Aleem Khan, After Love

Best Actress – Joanna Scanlan, After Love

Best Actor – Adeel Akhtar, Ali & Ava

Best Supporting Actress – Vinette Robinson, Boiling Point

Best Supporting Actor – Talid Ariss, After Love

Breakthrough Performance – Nell Barlow, Sweetheart

The Douglas Hickox Award (Best Debut Director) – Aleem Khan, After Love

Best Screenplay – Aleem Khan, After Love

Breakthrough Producer – Michelle Antoniades, Sweetheart

Best Debut Screenwriter – Cathy Brady, Wildfire

The Raindance Discovery Award – Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché, Paul Sng, Celeste Bell, Zoë Howe, Rebecca Mark-Lawson, Matthew Silverman, Daria Nitsche

Best British Short Film – Femme

Best International Independent Film – Flee

Best Casting – Carolyn Mcleod, Boiling Point

Best Cinematography – Matthew Lewis, Boiling Point

Best Costume Design – Grace Snell, The Souvenir Part II

Best Music – Connie Farr, Harry Escott, Ali & Ava

Best Effects – Steven Bray, Mike Knights, Dashcam

Best Editing – Helle Le Fevre, The Souvenir Part II

Best Make-Up & Hair – Vickie Lang, Kristyan Mallett, Donald Mcinnes, The Electrical Life Of Louis Wain

Best Production Design – Stéphane Collonge, The Souvenir Part II

Best Sound – James Drake, Rob Entwistle, Kiff McManus  Boiling Point

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