“Let’s hear it for giving cash to filmmakers!” Naturally, this rallying cry—exclaimed by Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu at this weekend’s annual Film Independent Spirit Award Nominee Brunch—earned an enthusiastic round of cheers from the January 4 event’s attendees. The majority of those in attendance, after all, were (and are) current Spirit Award nominees, there to take advantage of the awards season fixture’s famously toothsome brunch spread while pressing the flesh with assorted friends, peers and colleagues. But for a few, there was much more on the line—$125,000 worth of unrestricted grant money.
Chu was joined as co-host of the awards portion of Saturday’s festivities by Clemency star (and Best Female Lead nominee) Alfre Woodard—stepping up on short notice to fill in for the previously announced but unexpectedly waylaid LaKeith Stanfield. Introduced by Film Independent President Josh Welsh, the duo quickly assumed control of the clear-Plexiglas lectern and wasted no time getting down to business.
“Today we celebrate the most talented emerging writers, producers and directors, working in fiction as well as non-fiction,” said Welsh, adding: “Year-round, Film Independent is fiercely committed to champion inclusion, equality and diversity.”
“We’re enormously proud of our Grant nominees and winners,” said Welsh. This year’s prizes included the Bonnie Award, the Producers Award, the Someone to Watch Award and the Truer Than Fiction Award. Watch the winners’ full acceptance speeches below:
Kelly Reichardt received the third annual Bonnie Award, named for American Airlines pilot Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo, who in 1973 became the first female pilot to fly for a major U.S. airline. The Bonnie Award recognizes a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant sponsored by American Airlines. Finalists for the award this year included Marielle Heller and Lulu Wang. Reichardt’s films include River of Grass, Old Joy, Wendy & Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff, Night Moves, Certain Women and the upcoming First Cow.
Mollye Asher received the 23rd annual Producers Award, honoring emerging producers who—despite highly limited resources—demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Finalists included Krista Parris and Ryan Zacarias. Asher’s films include The Rider, Fort Tilden, Swallow, Songs My Brothers Taught Me and the upcoming Catch the Fair one and Nomandland.
SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Rashaad Ernesto Green received the 2020 Someone to Watch Award, for his sophomore feature (and John Cassavetes Award nominee) Premature. Presented by Bulleit Frontier Whiskey, the award honors a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition with a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Premature debuted at Sundance last year and will be released by IFC Films in early 2020. Finalists for the award also included Ash Mayfair (The Third Wife) and Joe Talbot (The Last Black Man in San Francisco.)
TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Documentarian Nadia Shihab (Jaddoland) received the 25th annual Truer Than Fiction Award, presented to an emerging director of nonfiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. Recipients receive a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Finalists for the award this year also included Khalik Allah (Black Mother), Erick Stoll & Chase Whiteside (América) and Davy Rothbart (17 Blocks). Like her previous films Amal’s Gargen and I Come from Iraq, Jaddoland explores issues of identity, migration, alienation and dislocation.
To see who else is nominated at the 35th Film Independent Spirit Awards click here. The 2020 Film Independent Sprit Awards will be held Saturday, February 8 on the beach in Santa Monica and broadcast live EXCLUSIVELY on IFC at 2:00pm PT/5:00pm ET.
Want to attend the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards? Contact Jennifer Murby at 323 556 9353 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
The Film Independent Spirit Awards are sponsored by Premier Sponsors American Airlines, IFC and Mazda. Bulleit Frontier Whiskey is the Official Spirit. FIJI Water is the Official Water. Getty Images is the Official Photographer. Town & Country Event Rentals is the Exclusive Rental Company.