Queen Helen up for award at UK indie film festival

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The Oscar-tipped portrayal of the Queen by Helen Mirren and the astonishing screen debut of teenager Thomas Turgoose are among the movie performances in contention for the annual awards dedicated to honouring independent British films.

In what film-makers are hailing as one of the strongest line-ups for years, Mirren has been shortlisted for best actress in The Queen at this year's British Independent Film Awards (the Bifas).

The movie, which examines the royal family and Government in the week after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, is also in the running for best film and another four honours, including the director's award for Stephen Frears.

The Last King of Scotland, based on Giles Foden's novel about the Ugandan leader, Idi Amin, also received six nominations with its two stars, Forest Whitaker and James McAvoy, going head-to-head for best actor.

But thanks to performances by Thomas Turgoose, Joseph Gilgun and Stephen Graham, who are all in the running for most promising newcomer, This is England, directed by Shane Meadows, has secured the most nominations - seven.

A story of skinheads and racism in 1980s Britain, it will not be released until the spring but will receive its UK premiere at the London Film Festival next week.

The winners will be selected by a jury including the actors Damian Lewis, Anna Friel and Colin Salmon, and announced at a ceremony in London on 29 November.

Announcing the shortlist yesterday, Elliot Grove, the awards' founder, said: "Bifa provides itself on providing a platform for up-and-coming talent and this year has increased the number of nominations in the most promising newcomer category as there was so much talent to choose from."

Kevin Loader, producer of both Venus and The History Boys, which secured four nominations apiece, said: "It's been an extremely strong year for British film. There's a whole generation of film-makers who have realised they don't have to go and live in Los Angeles to do their work. They have stayed and this year we're seeing the results of that."

Two of The History Boys' boys, Samuel Barnett and Dominic Cooper, are up against each other for most promising newcomer. "It's a good job we all like each other," Barnett joked.

Other films in contention include The Wind that Shakes the Barley by Ken Loach, with four nominations, Red Road, the Cannes-honoured debut of Andrea Arnold with five, Shooting Dogs, about the Rwandan genocide, and Breaking and Entering, Anthony Minghella's latest.

A clutch of low-budget films nominated include Kidulthood, about teenagers on a West London estate and Scenes of a Sexual Nature, whose cast includes Ewan McGregor.

And the nominees are...

Best British Independent Film

The Last King of Scotland

The Queen

Red Road

This is England

The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Best Director

Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland)

Stephen Frears (The Queen)

Michael Caton Jones (Shooting Dogs)

Shane Meadows (This is England)

Ken Loach (The Wind that Shakes the Barley)

Best Actor

Tony Curran (Clyde) Red Road

James McAvoy (Nicholas Garrigan) The Last King of Scotland

Cillian Murphy (Damien) The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Peter O'Toole (Maurice) Venus

Forest Whitaker (Idi Amin) The Last King of Scotland

Best Actress

Juliette Binoche (Amira) Breaking & Entering

Frances de la Tour (Mrs Lintott) The History Boys

Kate Dickie (Jackie) Red Road

Helen Mirren (Queen Elizabeth II) The Queen

Robin Wright Penn (Liv) Breaking & Entering

Best Supporting Actor/Actress

Leslie Phillips (Ian) Venus

Vanessa Redgrave (Maurice's ex-wife) Venus

Joseph Gilgun (Woody) This is England

Stephen Graham (Combo) This is England

Martin Compston (Stevie) - Red Road

Most Promising Newcomer (On Screen)

Jodie Whittaker (Jessie) Venus

Thomas Turgoose (Shaun) This is England

Samuel Barnett (Posner) The History Boys

Harry and Luke Treadaway (Tom and Barry Howe) Brothers of the Head

Dominic Cooper (Dakin) The History Boys

Rafi Gavron (Miro) Breaking & Entering

Best Screenplay

Alan Bennett (The History Boys)

Peter Morgan (The Queen)

Hanif Kureishi (Venus)

Shane Meadows (This is England)

Peter Morgan & Jeremy Brock (The Last King of Scotland)

Best Foreign Independent Film

Volver

Hard Candy

Brick

Hidden (Cache)

The Beat My Heart Skipped

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