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Contact: Alia Quart Khan, Film Independent
Tel: 310.432.1287 or [email protected]

Gina Pence, Ginsberg/Libby
Tel: 323.645.6800 or [email protected]



Ceremony aired live exclusively on IFC at 2:00pm PT / 5:00pm ET
Rebroadcast later this evening on IFC

LOS ANGELES (February 27, 2016) – Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards, the LA Film Festival and Film Independent at LACMA, handed out top honors to Spotlight, Beasts of No Nation and Room at this afternoon’s 31st Film Independent Spirit Awards. Carol, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Krisha, The Look of Silence, Son of Saul and Tangerine also received awards at the ceremony, which was held in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica. Spotlight received the Robert Altman Award. In addition to being the celebration that honors artist-driven films made with an economy of means by filmmakers whose films embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision, the Spirit Awards is the primary fundraiser for Film Independent’s year-round programs. The ceremony aired live today on IFC and a rebroadcast will air later this evening; please check your local listings for times. Clips from the ceremony will be available on Film Independent’s YouTube channel after the show.

Over the past 31 years, the Film Independent Spirit Awards has made a name for itself as the premiere awards show for the independent film community. Artists who have received industry recognition first at the Spirit Awards include Ava DuVernay, Justin Simien, Ryan Coogler, Joel and Ethan Coen, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Ashley Judd, Robert Rodriguez, David O. Russell, Edward Burns, Aaron Eckhart, Neil LaBute, Darren Aronofsky, Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, Hilary Swank, Marc Forster, Todd Field, Christopher Nolan, Zach Braff, Amy Adams, Lena Dunham and many more.

This year’s major category winners were Spotlight, which won Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Editing; Beasts of No Nation, which won Best Male Lead and Best Supporting Male; Room, which won Best Female Lead and Best First Screenplay; Carol, which won Best Cinematography; The Diary of a Teenage Girl, which won Best First Feature; Krisha, which won the John Cassavetes Award; The Look of Silence, which won Best Documentary; Son of Saul, which won Best International Film and Tangerine, which won Best Supporting Female.

The 9th annual Robert Altman Award was given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast. Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight received this award, along with casting directors Kerry Barden and Paul Schnee and ensemble cast members Michael Cyril Creighton, Billy Crudup, Paul Giulfoyle, Neal Huff, Brian D’Arcy James, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Jamey Sheridan, John Slattery and Stanley Tucci.

The 2016 Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation Fellowship, which includes a cash grant of $10,000, was awarded to Zimbabwean filmmaker Sue-Ellen Chitunya. This annual award is given to a filmmaker currently participating in a Film Independent Artist Development program with the mission of diversity in mind. Chitunya, a participant in Project Involve, is currently in active development as a producer on her first narrative feature film, A Hard Place.


The following is a complete list of the winners:


Best Feature: Spotlight (Open Road Films)

Producers: Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Michael Sugar


Best Director: Tom McCarthy, Spotlight (Open Road Films)


Best Screenplay: Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer, Spotlight (Open Road Films)


Best First Feature: The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Sony Pictures Classics)

Director: Marielle Heller

Producers: Miranda Bailey, Anne Carey, Bert Hamelinck, Madeline Samit


Best First Screenplay: Emma Donoghue, Room (A24)


John Cassavetes Award (For best feature made under $500,000): Krisha (A24)

Writer/Director/Producer: Trey Edward Shults

Producers: Justin R. Chan, Chase Joliet, Wilson Smith


Best Supporting Female: Mya Taylor,Tangerine (Magnolia Pictures)


Best Supporting Male: Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation (Bleecker Street/Netflix)


Best Female Lead: Brie Larson, Room (A24)


Best Male Lead: Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation (Bleecker Street/Netflix)


Robert Altman Award: Spotlight (Open Road Films)

Director: Tom McCarthy

Casting Directors: Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee

Ensemble Cast: Billy Crudup, Michael Cyril Creighton, Paul Guilfoyle, Neal Huff, Brian d’Arcy James, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Jamey Sheridan, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci


Best Cinematography: Ed Lachman, Carol (The Weinstein Company)


Best Editing: Tom McArdle, Spotlight (Open Road Films)


Best International Film: Son of Saul (Hungary – Sony Pictures Classics)

Director: László Nemes


Best Documentary: The Look of Silence (Drafthouse Films/Participant Media)

Director: Joshua Oppenheimer

Producer: Signe Byrge Sørensen



5 Open Road Films

3 A24

2 Bleecker Street/Netflix

2 Sony Pictures Classics

1 Drafthouse Films/Participant Media

1 Magnolia Pictures

1 The Weinstein Company


On January 9 the following winners were honored at the Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grant and Nominee Brunch at BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood:

Mel Eslyn received the Piaget Producers Award. The award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce quality independent films. The annual award, in its 19th year, includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget for the 8th year. Finalists were Darren Dean, Rebecca Green and Laura D. Smith.

Felix Thompson, director of King Jack, received the Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award. The award recognizes talented filmmakers of singular vision who have not yet received appropriate recognition. The award is in its 22nd year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl’s Since 1851. Finalists for the award were Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck directors of God Bless the Child and Chloé Zhao director of Songs My Brothers Taught Me.

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, director of Incorruptible, received the Truer Than Fiction Award. The award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not received significant recognition. The award is in its 21st year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Finalists for the award were Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi directors of Among the BelieversandElizabeth Giamatti and Alex Sichel directors of A Woman Like Me.


Joining Josh Welsh, President of Film Independent, were hosts Kate McKinnon and Kumail Nanjiani and Honorary Chair Jessica Chastain.

House band:

Presenters included:
Patricia Arquette, Jason Bateman, Jessica Biel, Cate Blanchett, Jessica Chastain, Emilia Clarke, Paul Dano, Jay Duplass, Idris Elba, Michael Keaton, Ken Jeong, Keegan-Michael Key, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anthony Mackie, Rami Malek, Nate Parker, Sean Penn, Freida Pinto, Mark Ruffalo, Jason Segel, J.K. Simmons, Mya Taylor, Juno Temple, Marisa Tomei and Jacob Tremblay.

Nominees and celebrities in attendance included:
Christopher Abbott, Abraham Attah, Miranda Bailey, Sean Baker, Robin Barlett, Emma Donoghue, Illeana Douglas, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Todd Haynes, Marielle Heller, Neal Huff, Marin Ireland, Duke Johnson, Ken Jeong, Charlie Kaufman, Brie Larson, Rachel McAdams, Tom McCarthy, Ben Mendelsohn, David Robert Mitchell, Phyllis Nagy, Cynthia Nixon, Giovanni Ribisi, Liev Schreiber, Michael Shannon, Jamey Sheridan, Luke Wilson and many more.



Now in its 31st year, the Film Independent Spirit Awards is an annual celebration honoring artist-driven films made with an economy of means by filmmakers whose films embody independence and originality. The Spirit Awards recognizes the achievements of American independent filmmakers and promotes the finest independent films of the year to a wider audience.

The winners of the Spirit Awards are voted upon by Film Independent and IFP Members. Awards are given in the following categories: Best Feature, Best First Feature, Best First Screenplay, Best Director, Best Screenplay, John Cassavetes Award (given to the best feature made for a budget under $500,000), Best Male Lead, Best Female Lead, Best Supporting Male, Best Supporting Female, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best International Film, Best Documentary and the Robert Altman Award. The Filmmaker Grants include the Piaget Producers Award, the Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award and the Truer Than Fiction Award. The Film Independent Spirit Awards are sponsored by Premier Sponsors Piaget, Bank of America, Heineken, American Airlines, Jaguar and IFC. EFFEN Vodka is the Official Spirit, FIJI Water is the Official Water and Presqu’ile Wine is the Official Wine of the 2016 Spirit Awards. WireImage is the Official Photographer of Film Independent.



Film Independent is a nonprofit arts organization that champions independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff and constituents is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a Member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional or a film lover.

In addition to producing the Spirit Awards, Film Independent produces the LA Film Festival and Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, a year-round, weekly program that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.

With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent’s Artist Development program offers free Labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry.

For more information or to become a Member, visit


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