On 24 October 2017, the BIFA announced the longlists for four new talent categories: Debut Director, Best Debut Screenwriter, Breakthrough Producer, and Most Promising Newcomer. The longlisted films are competing for nomination slots, which will be officially announced by Maisie Williams and Hayley Squires on 1 November. The winners of the 20th anniversary of the awards will be announced on 10 December at Old Billingsgate.

Of the 31 total longlisted films, five are in the writing, directing, and producing categories; these films include Bad Day for the Cut, God’s Own Country, I Am Not a Witch, Lady Macbeth, and Pin Cushion.

Lady Macbeth is the only film boasting two performers longlisted in the Most Promising Newcomer category – Cosmo Jarvis and Naomi Ackie. In the period drama set in rural nineteenth-century England, Jarvis, a mixed-race American-born English-raised actor, plays an estate worker; Ackie, a black English actor, plays an observant maid named Anna. Lady Macbeth premiered at TIFF in September 2016 and subsequently screened at BFI and Sundance.

Chris Baugh’s debut feature, Bad Day for the Cut, is a witty and violent Belfast-set revenge thriller which premiered at Sundance in January. Nigel O’Neill is up for the Most Promising Newcomer Award for his portrayal of Donal, a middle-aged Irish farmer who seeks revenge on her mother’s murderer.

Francis Lee’s directorial debut, God’s Own Country, portrays a young Yorkshire sheep farmer’s romance with a Romanian migrant worker. This is one of the more decorated films of the longlist – at Sundance, Lee won the World Cinematic Dramatic Directing Award and the drama won Best Film at both Berlin and Edinburgh.

Welsh-Zambian director Rugano Nyoni premiered her debut feature I Am Not a Witch at Cannes in May. Nyoni interweaves feminism with satire while channelling experiences from her upbringing into the telling of a young Zambian girl’s accusation of witchcraft and resultant removal from her village.

Writer-director Deborah Haywood’s first feature, Pin Cushion, opened Venice’s Critic’s Week in late August. The coming-of-age film revolves around the fragile and unsettling relationship between a single mother, Lyn, and her teenage daughter, Iona. Iona is played by Lily Newmark, a British-American actor longlisted for Most Promising Newcomer.

You can view BIFA’s press release which details the complete list of longlisted films here.

Fancy attending the British Independent Film Awards on 10 December 2017? Become a Raindance Benefactor to get a seat at this invite-only event.

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