Actors Ray Winstone andTilda Swinton have become patrons of The British Independent Film Awards.

The other patrons already onboard for the Awards include Mike Figgis, Adrian Lester, Ken Loach, SamanthaMorton, Michael Winterbottom and Meera Syal.

The BIFAs are now in theirninth year, honouring independent films that are majority financed by UK companies. This year's nominations will be announcedOct 25 with the awards ceremony to be held Nov 29 at London's Hammersmith Palais.

Johanna von Fischer andTessa Collinson, who have both worked with the Awards since 1998, have beenappointed the new joint directors, replacing founder Elliot Grove.

"The time is now right forBIFA to stand on its own and grow under the capable hands of Johanna and Tessawho between them have worked with me since the beginning," Grove said.

Added von Fischer andCollinson: "We are really excited that the BIFAs are now regarded as thekick-off to the international awards season which culminates in the BAFTAs andAcademy Awards in the Spring. The BIFAs also have areal purpose to promote British Independent film talent to an ever growingaudience worldwide."

Last year's big winner atthe BIFAs was The Constant Gardener.