Emerging Filmmaker Awards

Every year, exceptional emerging filmmakers are acknowledged at the Spirit Awards, with nominees and winners chosen by committee.

The 2021 Emerging Filmmaker Award nominees were announced on January 26, 2021, and the winners were announced by 2014 Someone to Watch Award recipient – and 2021 Spirit Awards Honorary Chair – Shaka King, alongside filmmakers Mel Eslyn (2016 Producers Award) and Nanfu Wang (2017 Truer Than Fiction Award) on March 16, 2021.

The winners of the 2021 Emerging Filmmaker Awards receive an unrestricted $25,000 cash grant provided by Spirit Awards Premier Sponsor Genesis Motor North America.
 

PRODUCERS AWARD

The Producers Award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality independent films. Past winners include Gina Kwon (Me and You and Everyone We Know), Caroline Baron (Capote) and Effie Brown (Real Women Have Curves).

2021 Producers Award Winner

Gerry Kim

2020 Producers Award Winner

Mollye Asher

2019 Producers Award Winner

Shrihari Sathe
 

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD

The Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The recipients of this award become Film Independent Fellows. Past winners include Marc Forster (Everything Put Together), Andrew Bujalski (Funny Ha Ha) and Larry Fessenden (Habit).

2021 Someone to Watch Award Winner

Ekwa Msangi – director, Farewell Amor

2020 Someone to Watch Award Winner

Rashaad Ernesto Green – director, Premature

2019 Someone to Watch Award Winner

Alex Moratto – director, Sócrates
 

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD

The Truer Than Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant attention. The recipients of this award become Film Independent Fellows. Past winners include Adele Horne (The Tailenders), Garrett Scott and Ian Olds (Occupation: Dreamland), Ross Kauffman and Zana Briski (Born into Brothels) and Errol Morris (Fast, Cheap & Out of Control).

2021 Truer Than Fiction Award Winner

Elegance Bratton – director, Pier Kids

2020 Truer Than Fiction Award Winner

Nadia Shihab – director, Jaddoland

2019 Truer Than Fiction Award Winner

Bing Liu – director, Minding the Gap