Stephen Graham among those celebrating at star-studded British Independent Film Awards

Stephen Graham has hailed independent film as the reason he became an actor at a ceremony celebrating the industry.

Speaking at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFAs), where he was nominated for best actor for the one-shot drama Boiling Point, Sky News reports that the star said it’s a part of cinema’s eco-system that needs protecting.

“It’s where people are allowed to not just learn on the job, but hone and develop their techniques and their skills,” Graham said.

“So then it keeps the industry alive, so hopefully we can find more investment and we can keep it [going].

“It’s the reason why I became an actor – independent films – if I’m honest.”

Caitriona Balfe was among the nominees for best actress for her role in Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical movie Belfast, which is yet to be released in cinemas in the UK.

She told Sky News the film, which is already tipped for BAFTA and Oscar nominations, would have been very different if it had been backed by a studio.

“I don’t think [Branagh] could have made the film that he wanted if it hadn’t been an independent film,” Balfe said.

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