Mirren, Sheen, Thewlis to play supporting role

LONDON — British thesps Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen and David Thewlis have come on board as patrons of the British Independent Film Awards, which take place Dec. 6.

They join a who’s who of U.K. indie talent on the roll-call of BIFA patrons. These include helmers Michael Winterbottom, Mike Figgis and Ken Loach, and thesps Ewan McGregor, Samantha Morton, Bill Nighy, Tilda Swinton and Ray Winstone.

Nominations and the jury for the awards will be announced at the end of October.

Films seeking nominations must have a budget of less than £10 million — except where there is no Hollywood studio backing — and have a U.K. theatrical release or screening at a British-based film festival between December 1, 2008 and November 30, 2009.

Variety is one of BIFA’s sponsors, alongside U.K. Film Council, BBC Films, Chapter Media, the Creative Partnership, Film London, M.A.C., Raindance and Soho House.

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