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It’s party season once again, and down at Old Billingsgate they do it in style when the Moet British Independent Film Awards roll into town. December 6 will see the annual bash enter its 18th year, and it looks like it’s going to be one of the most star-studded yet.

One of the flagship honours of the ceremony is the Richard Harris Award, in honour of the legendary British-Irish actor. This time it will go to a local lad in the form of Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is famous for being plucked from relative obscurity by Steven Spielberg for 1996’s Amistad. Since then he has landed roles in Love Actually and 12 Years a Slave, amongst others. Harris Jnr., Jared Harris, is certainly enthused: “I am so happy this award is going to Chiwetel…His talent is immense. It has brought him deserved worldwide recognition, and he is in his prime!”

Another special presentation that is sure to go down well is Kate Winslet becoming the latest recipient of the Variety Award, which recognises someone in the business who has made their mark on a worldwide scale and helped to focus the attention of the global audience on the UK. Winslet’s career has certainly done that and she is “thrilled to be receiving this award…It’s an honour to be flying the flag for British filmmaking.”

But now down to the nitty-gritty – the nominations. In total, 28 home-grown flicks have been nominated, with Lobster leading the way with seven nods. Macbeth and 45 Years are just behind with six apiece, with Amy, Brooklyn and Ex Machina all having five, whilst High-Rise and Suffragette both go in with a respectable four. As ever, the Best Actor category makes interesting reading – how about Colin Farrell, Tom Hardy, Tom Courtenay, Michael Fassbender and Tom Hiddleston for a shortlist?! But let’s spare a thought for the Gleesons – Brendan and Domnhall – as father and son go toe-to-toe for the Best supporting Actor gong.

Last but not least, your host. Attention I.T Crowd fans because this year it’s Richard Ayoade, someone who is as well-established in movie circles these days as he is on the comedy circuit. In fact, last year saw the publication of his debut book, Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey, so it’s hard to argue with the BIFA when they say he’s “the perfect host for the Awards”.

The whole shebang will be streamed live on www.bifa.film. For further details and tickets for a special series of public screenings of BIFA-nominated and winning films go to www.discover.bifa.film.

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