Winter storm El Niño has finally made its way over Southern California and is currently drenching Los Angeles in rainfall as bracingly cold as any exterior shot from The Hateful Eight or The Revenant.
But El Niño is no match for the gathering storm of Awards Season, which kicks off in earnest this Saturday with the Film Independent Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grant & Nominee Brunch at Boa Steakhouse in West Hollywood—rain or shine.
For several year now, the brunch has been an opportunity for actors, filmmakers, press and industry to meet up, network and celebrate yet another banner year in the ever-evolving history of independent film.
Two of the celebrities helping spotlight the nominees this weekend will be the brunch’s hosts: actors Uzo Aduba and Rami Malek.
Aduba is best known as Litchfield Prison inmate and budding erotica author Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, and recently appeared as Glinda the Good Witch on NBC’s live musical production of The Wiz.
Malek is the star of the critically acclaimed USA cyber-thriller Mr. Robot as the paranoid hacker Elliot, and has acted in projects as diverse as HBO’s The Pacific, Short Term 12, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Night at the Museum, among others.
“We’re very happy to kick off awards season with Uzo and Rami,” said Film Independent President Josh Welsh, noting that the brunch serves to “celebrate this year’s nominees before the [Spirit Awards ceremony] and award $75,000 in grants to up and coming filmmakers.”
Aduba and Malik will help award three separate grants of $25,000 each, including…
The Piaget Producers Award, honoring emerging producers who—despite highly limited resources—demonstrate the “creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality independent films.”
Nominees for the Piaget Producers Award include Darren Dean, Mel Eslyn and Rebecca Green and Laura D. Smith.
The Truer Than Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has “not yet received significant recognition.”
Nominees for the Truer Than Fiction Award include directors Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi (Among the Believers), Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (Incorruptible) and Elizabeth Giamatti and Alex Sichel (A Woman Like Me.)
Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of “significant vision” who has not yet received high-profile attention.
Nominees for the Someone to Watch Award include directors Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck (God Bless the Child), Felix Thompson (King Jack) and Chloé Zhao (Songs My Brother Taught Me.)
The Film Independent Spirit Awards will be broadcast live on IFC February 27 at 2:00 pm PT and 5:00 pm ET. For more information about the Spirit Awards—including a full list of nominees—click here. Vote for Spirit Awards winners by becoming a Member of Film Independent by Friday, January 15.
Matt Warren / Film Independent Digital Content Manager