Ralph Fiennes and Kenneth Branagh to Receive Independent Film Prizes
Two stalwarts of British cinema to scoop Bifas for contribution to film (Fiennes) and for putting the UK in the spotlight (Branagh)

The Guardian, 24 November 2011
By Ben Child

Both are known for their love of Shakespeare, have appeared in the Harry Potter series and have at least one Oscar nomination under their belt. Now Kenneth Branagh and Ralph Fiennes have one more thing in common after it was announced that they are both to be honoured at this year's British Independent Film awards.

Fiennes, who played Lord Voldemort in the Potter films, has garnered Oscar nominations for both 'The English Patient' and 'Schindler's List', and made his directing debut earlier this year with a contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Coriolanus'. At this year's Bifas he will pick up the Richard Harris award for outstanding contribution to film by an actor, a prize that has previously gone to figures such as John Hurt, David Thewlis, Bob Hoskins, Daniel Day-Lewis and Helena Bonham Carter.

Branagh was handed two of his four Oscar nominations to date for directing and starring in 'Henry V', based on the Shakespeare play, in 1989. He portrayed vain Hogwarts professor Gilderoy Lockhart in 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'. The Belfast-born actor will receive the Variety award, which honours those whose work has helped focus the international spotlight on the UK.

Last year's awards were dominated by 'The King's Speech', which took five gongs including best British independent film and acting honours for stars Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush. This year's main contenders are Steve McQueen's salacious festival smash 'Shame', Tomas Alfredson's critically acclaimed John Le Carré espionage drama 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' and Paddy Considine's debut feature, 'Tyrannosaur', all of which have garnered seven nominations.

All three will also compete for the best independent British film prize alongside Lynne Ramsay's Lionel Shriver adaptation 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' and Asif Kapadia's Formula One documentary 'Senna'.

The Bifa ceremony will be hosted this year by Irish actor Chris O'Dowd, star of 'Bridesmaids 'and 'The IT Crowd'. It will take place in central London on Sunday 4 December.

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