SCOTTISH director Charlotte Wells's debut feature film is leading this year's British Independent Film Awards nominations with a stunning 16 nods.

Critically acclaimed Aftersun, which focuses on a father and daughter's complex relationship and is explored through a holiday taken in Turkey, stars Normal People actor Paul Mescal and 12-year-old child actress Frankie Corio. 

The pair have received a nomination in the best joint lead performance category.

Other nominations are for best British independent film, best director, best debut director, best screenplay and best debut screenwriter.

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Edinburgh-born Wells studied film at NYU, and made a number of short films before putting her debut out this year.

The National: Director Charlotte WellsDirector Charlotte Wells (Image: Getty)

Elsewhere at the awards, Bifa has made the move to award five acting accolades with no mention of “actor” or “actress”.

Dame Emma Thompson, Florence Pugh and Mescal are among the stars nominated in its first year with gender-neutral acting categories.

Aftersun will go head to head for the coveted best British independent film against Georgia Oakley’s Blue Jean, Sophie Hyde’s Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, Oliver Hermanus’s Living and Sebastian Lelio’s The Wonder.

Oakley’s debut film Blue Jean, which follows a young school teacher forced to lead a double life set during the late 1980s against the backdrop of Thatcher’s anti-gay Section 28 ruling, is the second most nominated project with 13 nods.

Two of its actors, Lucy Halliday and Kerrie Hayes, are among those nominated for the best supporting performance gong alongside Mescal for a different role in God’s Creatures as well as Sex Education’s Aimee Lou Wood for her performance in Living.

The National: Rosy McEwen attends the British Independent Film Awards nominationsRosy McEwen attends the British Independent Film Awards nominations (Image: PA)

Meanwhile, Pugh for her role in The Wonder, Sex Education’s Emma Mackey for the biographical drama Emily based on Emily Bronte, and Rosy McEwen for Blue Jean are among those who have received nods in the best lead performance category.

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The nominations were announced on Friday by the ceremony’s hosts Sam Claflin and Bifa winner Kosar Ali at the Everyman Broadgate event with 36 British feature films recognised in total.

In July, the organisation announced the new gender-neutral performance categories were: best lead performance, best supporting performance, best joint lead performance for two (or exceptionally three) performances that are the joint focus of the film, and best ensemble.

Bifa was created in 1998 and has since celebrated and promoted British independent cinema and filmmaking talent in the UK.

Winners will be announced at the Bifa award ceremony on Sunday December 4.