“It goes without saying: congratulations on your work.” So said Film Independent President, at the 2024 Film Independent Spirit Award nominee brunch on January 6. Held for the second consecutive year at Santa Monica’s beachfront Casa Del Mar hotel, the purpose of the annual gathering was twofold: to celebrate our current cohort of Spirit Award nominees, and to hand out the three Emerging Filmmaker Awards, each carrying with it a $25,000 unrestricted cash grant for its recipient. Welsh added, “The excellence you’ve brought this year has enlivened and inspired us at a critical time.”
The awards portion of the Saturday gathering–grand ballroom windows giving way to a spectacular beach view–was hosted by two of Hollywood’s buzziest performers and past Spirit Award nominees, Colman Domingo (Rustin, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon, Certain Women). “It really feels incredible to be here and see all of you,” said Domingo, enthusiastically.
The sentiment was shared by Brenda Robinson, Film Independent Board Chair. “I just wanted to take a moment to say what a joy it was to spend time with all the stories this year that inspired us,” she told the gathering before bringing out hosts Domingo and Gladstone, “Your work carried us forward.”
This year’s prizes included the Truer Than Fiction Award, the Producers Award and the Someone to Watch Award. Watch the winners’ full acceptance speeches below:
TRUER THAN FICTION
Set Hernandez received the 29th 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 Jesse Short Bull and Laura Tomaselli, directors of Lakota Nation vs. United States, and Sierra Urich, director of Joonam. Unseen follows the story of Pedro, an aspiring social worker, as he faces restrictions in getting his college degree due to his status as a blind, undocumented immigrant.
Monique Walton received the 27th annual Producers Award, honoring emerging producers who–despite highly limited resources–demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality independent film. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant presented by Bulleit Frontier Whiskey. Finalists also included Rachael Fung and Graham Swon. Walton’s first feature Bull premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival – Un Certain Regard and was nominated for three Spirit Awards.
SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Monica Sorelle received the 2024 Someone to Watch Award, for her debut feature (and multiple Spirit Award nominee) Mountains. The award honors a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition and includes a $25,000 unrestricted cash grant presented by Stella Artois. Finalists also included Joanna Arrow, director of The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed, and Laura Moss, director of Birth/Rebirth. Mountains tells the story of a Haitian demolition worker faced with the realities of redevelopment as he’s tasked with dismantling his rapidly gentrifying Miami neighborhood.
To see who else is nominated at the 39th Film Independent Spirit Awards click here. The 2024 Film Independent Spirit Awards will be held Sunday, February 25 on the beach, streaming LIVE on YouTube via IMDb and Film Independent.
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