It was another busy year of supporting UK indie cinema for the British Film Institute (BFI), which again handed out a series of cash awards via its audience fund as well as distribution grants for individual titles. Scroll down for the lists of top awards across key strands.

The grants continue to look a little different than previous years due to the pandemic, which has seen the BFI move more towards backing companies and venues, particularly during Covid-related closures, rather than individual titles.

Single films did still benefit from awards, however, as outlined below. The top two titles were the Oscar-winning Minari and Cannes Palme d’Or winner Titane, both of which were distributed in the UK by Altitude.

Altitude was, overall, the most heavily backed distributor last year, receiving organization awards totalling £488,776. The next most backed company was Verve Pictures with £165,000.

The Audience Fund Organisation Awards gave out numerous significant grants in 2021. Top of the pile was the British Independent Film Awards for its ‘This Is Our Cinema: Always-on’ marketing campaign, which saw BIFA receive £300,000 to support a range of activity designed to promote British indie pics to younger audiences across the year.

Also on that list was Flatpack Projects, which received £264,700 to back its activity around the Cinecov – Coventry UK City of Culture initiative, which supported a 10-month film program in the city.

The BFI’s top distribution and audience awards in 2021:

BFI Audience Fund Organisation Awards

British Independent Film Awards, This Is Our Cinema: Always-on marketing campaign (£300,000)
A progression to year two of their award will see BIFA continue to deliver a range of activity such as content capture at their awards which can be utilised as compelling social content across the year, alongside specific additional activity such as podcasts and in venue events, marketing promotion and distributor partnerships to promote British Independent film to young audiences.

Flatpack Projects, Cinecov – Coventry UK City of Culture (£264,700)
Award support a 10-month film programme as part of the UK City of Culture in Coventry from June 2021, delivering with a range of partners a programme of screenings, events, talks, workshops across 4 strands to engage audiences across the city.

Elevenfiftyfive Ltd, MASSIVE (£239,031)
Supporting another year of promotion of UK independent film via MASSIVE, a youth-skewing brand created by elevenfiftyfive to grow the engagement of British cinema with young people. Funding will enable preview screenings, always on social support and regular research delivered to industry as well as brand and sponsorship fundraising.

TEARDUSK LIMITED, Bounce Cinema (£157,500)
Supporting Bounce Cinema to take their successful film exhibition events UK wide and grow BFI2022 priority audiences for independent and international film.

Independent Cinema Office, FEDS 2022/23 (£114,194)
Award to enable the this valuable training to continue. ICO’s FEDS initiative to take place during 2022 will see five individuals from under-represented backgrounds receive training and work placements in the exhibition sector for 40 weeks, with the aim of creating a more inclusive workforce that is better representative of the population.

London Indian Film Festival (£62,000)
To support the festival’s ambitions to raise the profile of South Asian cinema and engage diverse audiences in its high quality programme both online and in venue across London, Birmingham, Manchester and the North of England in June 2021.

UK Jewish Film Festival 2021 (£50,000)
Supporting the UK Jewish Film Festival to continue to offer a rich and diverse programme of films, increasing access to great cinema for UK audiences. Funding will support the costs of presenting the festival both online and in-venue, with screenings and Q&As.

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2021 (£50,000)
Supporting EIFF to offer a programme of screenings, Q&As and talks of national significance to engage a diverse range of audiences.

Zebra Access CIO, Deaffest 2022 Unlocked (£45,130)
Support will contribute to the delivery and marketing costs to support the 20th edition of Deaffest which will take place in Light House, Wolverhampton, as well as online in May 2022.

Borderlines Film Festival 2022 (£42,000)
Support will enable Borderlines (the UK’s largest rural film festival) to offer an ambitious film programme, increasing access to independent UK and International film for audiences in rural communities. Funding will enable marketing and outreach to increase the festival’s engagement with BFI2022 priority audiences and support the festival to offer a hybrid in venue and online festival.

Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival 2021 and Iris on the Move 2022 (£40,000)
Supporting the annual Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival in October 2021 (it will be a hybrid festival taking place in Cardiff and UK wide online) and support the organisation to deliver their Iris on the Move touring activity across the UK in 2022. The award will support staffing, festival delivery costs and marketing to BFI2022 priority audiences.

17th Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival (2021) (£40,000_
Supporting a hybrid edition of the Berwick Film & Media Festival in particular programme delivery and marketing aspects to ensure the Festival continues to offer audiences (local and national) a rich and contextualised film programme of films not otherwise seen in the UK.

Tongues On Fire, UK Asian Film Festival 2021 (£40,000)d
Supporting the delivery of the 2021 festival online and in seven key cities across the UK. Funding will also support marketing to BFI2022 priority audiences.

Largest individual film awards from the Audience Fund in 2021:

Minari, Altitude (£90,540)

Sweetheart, Peccadillo Pictures Limited (£75,010)

Limbo, MUBI UK Limited (£60,750)

Supernova, Studiocanal Limited (£60,000)

Titane, Altitude (£57,500)

Censor, Vertigo Releasing Limited (£55,000)

Last Man Standing, Dogwoof (£55,000)

Pirates, Picturehouse Entertainment Limited (£50,000)

The Reason I Jump, Picturehouse Entertainment Limited (£37,000)

Stray, Dogwoof Ltd (£36,743)

Largest Organisation Awards to distributors:

Altitude Film Distribution (£488,776)

Verve Pictures (£165,000)

Dogwoof (£125,000)

Peccadillo Pictures (£113,500)

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