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Paul Mescal among the Bifa nominees in its first year with gender neutral acting categories

Paul Mescal

Naomi ClarkePA Media

Paul Mescal is among the stars nominated for the British Independent Film Awards (Bifas) in its first year with gender neutral acting categories.

As part of the organisation’s 25th anniversary, the body has made the move to award five acting accolades with no mention of “actor” or “actress” as well as adding a selection of new performance awards.

Scottish director Charlotte Wells’s feature debut Aftersun, about a father and daughter’s complex relationship explored through a holiday they take in Turkey, leads the nominations with 16 nods.

Normal People star Mescal, who plays Calum, and Frankie Corio, who plays his daughter Sophie, have received a nod in the best joint lead performance category.

They will battle it out against Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack for Good Luck To You, Leo Grande; West End Cabaret star Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear for Men; and Tamara Lawrance and Letitia Wright for The Silent Twins.

Aftersun is also up for best screenplay, the Douglas Hickox award (best debut director) and best director for Wells.

It will go head to head for the coveted best British independent film against Georgia Oakley’s Blue Jean, Sophie Hyde’s Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, Oliver Hermanus’s Living and Sebastian Lelio’s The Wonder.

Oakley’s debut film Blue Jean, which follows a young school teacher forced to lead a double life set during the late 1980s against the backdrop of Thatcher’s anti-gay Section 28 ruling, is the second most nominated project with 13 nods.

Two of its actors, Lucy Halliday and Kerrie Hayes, are among those nominated for the best supporting performance gong alongside Mescal for a different role in God’s Creatures as well as Sex Education’s Aimee Lou Wood for her performance in Living.

Meanwhile, Florence Pugh for her role in The Wonder, Sex Education’s Emma Mackey for the biographical drama Emily based on Emily Bronte, and Rosy McEwen for Blue Jean are among those who have received nods in the best lead performance category.

The nominations were announced on Friday by the ceremony’s hosts Sam Claflin and Bifa winner Kosar Ali at the Everyman Broadgate event with 36 British feature films recognised in total.

In July, the organisation announced the new gender neutral performance categories were: 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 was created in 1998 and has since celebrated and promoted British independent cinema and filmmaking talent in the UK.

Winners will be announced at the Bifa award ceremony on Sunday December 4.


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