Film Independent has named Judas and the Black Messiah filmmaker Shaka King as Honorary Chair at the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Though the life of a Spirit Awards Honorary Chair may seem impossibly fanciful and glamorous to the Hollywood layperson, King (whose career we profiled yesterday) was henceforth tasked with the great responsibility of shepherding our online 2021 Spirit Awards Grant Awards Reveal Presentation.
Thus was bestowed the first three awards of Spirit Awards season: the Someone to Watch Award, Producers Award and Truer Than Fiction Award—the winners of which all received a generous $25,000 unrestricted grant, courtesy of Spirit Awards Premier Sponsor Genesis Motor North America.
“As a director who won the Someone to Watch Award only a few years ago, we can’t think of a better person to serve as our Honorary Chair at this year’s Spirit Awards,” said Film Independent Josh Welsh, referring to King’s 2014 win for his debut feature Newlyweeds. King was joined by two other Grant Winner alums—2016 Producers Award winner Mel Eslyn and 2017 Truer Than Fiction winner Nanfu Wang—to honor 2021’s nominees and announce the winners.
“Genesis is pleased to support these independent voices at the Spirit Awards,” said Mark Del Rosso, President & CEO of Genesis Motor North America. “We want to encourage these independent voices to use their stories and films to inspire others all over the world.”
Watch the entire presentation below or on Film Independent’s Facebook:
Presented by King, Ekwa Msangi, director of Farewell Amor, received the 27th annual Someone to Watch Award, which recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant presented by Genesis Motor North America. Finalists for the award this year included David Midell, director of The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain, and Annie Silverstein, director of Bull.
Presented by Eslyn, Gerry Kim won the 24th annual Producers Award, honoring emerging producers who—despite highly limited resources—demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to producer quality independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant presented by Genesis Motor North America. Finalists included Luca Joaquin and Kara Durrett.
Presented by Wang, Elegance Bratton, director of Pier Kids, won the 26th annual Truer Than Fiction Award, presented to an emerging director of nonfiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant presented by Genesis Motor North America. Finalists included Cecilia Aldarondo, director of Landfall, and Elizabeth Lo, director of Stray.
The 36th Film Independent Spirit Awards, hosted by Melissa Villaseñor, will be broadcast exclusive on IFC Thursday, April 22 at 10:00 pm ET. Check out all of this year’s nominees here.
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The Film Independent Spirit Awards are presented by Premier Sponsors Genesis Motor North America and IFC. Bulleit Frontier Whiskey is the Official Spirit. FIJI Water is the Official Water. Getty Images is the Official Photographer. We are also honored to be partnering with the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) SeeHer, the leading global movement for gender equality in media, advertising, marketing and entertainment and AMC Networks to further celebrate and act as a catalyst for accurate and meaningful representation in storytelling.
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(Header: Shaka King image courtesy of Andre D. Wagner and Mel Eslyn image courtesy of Kelly O, The Stranger)