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On December 7, those lucky enough to be in attendance for the 17th annual British Independent Film Awards, to be held at London’s Old Billingsgate, will be part of a celebration of the very best in homegrown cinematic talent.

Those who eventually walk away with the various gongs will have fought off competition as stiff as a board, as this year’s shortlist of nominees has come from a record 250-plus films.

The unenviable task of whittling down the entries fell to the more than 70-strong Pre-Selection Committee, who announced the nominations at St Martin’s Lane, London, on November 3. But if you thought that was a tough job, spare a moment for the jury who, as usual, have the responsibility of picking out the winners on their shoulders.

Are this year’s motley crew up to the task? Oh yes! Keeping order from the chair will be Tom Hooper, whose inspirational The King’s Speech scooped five awards in 2010. Throw in Stanley Tucci and Luke Treadway alongside him and you’ve got yourself the nucleus of one lean, mean decision-making machine.

’71 looks like the early favourite to dominate proceedings, with a total of nine nominations. It’s leading man, Jack O’ Connell, will be up against some particularly big hitters in Brendan Gleeson (Calvary), Timothy Spall (Mr Turner) and, you guessed it, Benedict Cumberbatch (you guessed again).

Now we come to the host and this time around it’s old Briefers himself, Simon Bird. The bespectacled one was feeling typically irreverent about the whole thing: “As star of experimental, art-house piece The Inbetweeners 2, I was the obvious choice to emcee this event celebrating cutting-edge independent cinema. It’s been an outstanding year for British film, and I look forward to drinking champagne with the winners while half-heartedly consoling the other nominees.”

Finally, a word on the sponsors. This will be Moet & Chandon’s fifth straight year of affiliation for what promises to be a corking Sunday night out.

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