Spirit Awards Tue 8.6.2019

Submit Your Film Today to Be Nominated for the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards

Obviously not all filmmakers are avid followers of “sportsball.” That said, indulge us in a quick point of comparison: that, just as trade rumors and free agency drama have turned pro basketball into a virtual 12 month spectator sport, so too has awards season prognostication turned the once-annual hunt for Hollywood accolades into an intricately-gamed, year-round bloodsport. So even though it’s only August, better study those release calendars and start sketching out your office pool picks.

And, of course, if you happen to be a producer, director, writer, editor or actor who—y’know—actually had a movie come out this year, there are far greater things at stake than merely going 20/20 on your Nickelodeon Teen Choice ballot. For you, 2019 has already undoubtedly been a roller coaster; one filled, we hope, with far more ups than downs.

So! The bad news? Even though your movie has been (or is about to be) released, there’s still a hell of a lot more work to do. The good news? You can get a head start on that work today, by submitting your film to be nominated at the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

That’s right—Film Independent is now accepting entries for next year’s Spirit Awards. Throw your hat in the ring here. Feature film submissions are open through the August 27 early deadline, September 17 regular deadline and drop-dead-we’re-not-kidding final deadline on October 8.

Nominations will be announced Thursday, November 21 in Los Angeles. So be sure to follow Film Independent on all the regular platforms (see below.) Not sure how it all works? Here’s what you need to know:



As filmmakers, we all hope to grow and evolve apace with our rapidly changing media environment. Thus, the Spirit Awards will be implementing a few new changes for next year’s awards—which will take place Saturday, February 8, 2020 on the beach in Santa Monica, CA and air exclusively on IFC. These changes include:

Bigger budget cap. For the past 14 years, the Spirit Awards’ budget cap has been $20 million. For 2020, Film Independent’s Board of Directors has voted to increase the budget cap for submissions to $22.5 million. So if you’re teetering right on that $19,999,999.99 line, feel free to take your crew out for pizza and ice cream tonight, guilt free.

New qualifying festivals. The Board has likewise voted to add SXSW and the Tribeca Film Festival to our list of qualifying festivals. Both festivals are known for showcasing exceptional work from independent voice, honoring artist-driven films from filmmakers embodying independence and originality.

That’s it! Please visit spiritawards.com for guidelines.



“Independent film is the heart of film culture today. It’s where storytelling is bold, diverse and inclusive, and we look forward to celebrating these original voices every year at the Spirit Awards,” says Film Independent President Josh Welsh, adding: “We’re excited to begin the nominations process.” But what are the Spirit Awards for, exactly? Simple:

Filmmakers like you. You don’t need us to tell you how a Spirit Award nomination (or win!) might benefit you in your career moving forward. You’ve worked hard, and now you have an actual finished film to share. We hope to be able to recognize all your incredible efforts on a mass platform, with industry pros and cineastes watching all over the world.

Lovers of independence, film and Film Independent. The Spirit Awards are voted on solely by Film Independent Members, and you know what that means: lots and lots of screeners! But seriously, the Spirit Awards aren’t just another irreverent awards show—they’re our biggest fundraiser for all of our year-round projects, from film education to artist development to innovative programming and special events, all of which contribute to the film culture we love.



As someone who’s persevered through the myriad peaks and valleys of production to emerge with an actual awards-caliber film, there’s really so much more we wish we could present to you besides a hefty (and surprisingly sharp) Spirit Awards statuette, plus a little bit of AMC Networks screen time.

There’s also the chance to forge connections with your fellow nominees and other industry personnel, not to mention the chance to (probably) take a selfie with John Waters. Actually, it all sounds pretty great. So why not submit your film for consideration?

Recognized award categories include:

  • Best Feature
  • Best First Feature
  • Best Director
  • John Cassavetes Award (best feature made for under $500,000)
  • Best Male Lead
  • Best Female Lead
  • Best Supporting Male
  • Best Supporting Female
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Editing
  • Best International Film
  • Best Documentary

Filmmaker Grants for emerging filmmakers include the Producers Award, Truer Than Fiction Award and Someone to Watch Award—each providing a $25,000 unrestricted cash grant to recipients. There’s also the Bonnie Award, presented by American Airlines, which will recognize one talented, mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted cash grant.

To learn more about the Spirit Awards, please visit our website. To relive all the fun of the 2019 awards, please sink your teeth into the below playlist:

The 2020 Spirit Awards are sponsored by Premier Sponsors American Airlines and IFC. FIJI Water is the Official Water. Getty Images is the Official Photographer.