Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, handed out top honors to 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club and Nebraska at this afternoon’s 29th Film Independent Spirit Awards. Blue Jasmine, Fruitvale Station, Blue is the Warmest Color, Short Term 12, This is Martin Bonner and 20 Feet from Stardom also received awards at the ceremony, which was held in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica.
With writer, actor and comedian Patton Oswalt hosting, highlights include the first ever award delivered via Wild Rabbit’s state-of-the-art drone. Mid-show Patton also received multiple motivational messages via Skype from Sarah Silverman, Reggie Watts, Weird Al Yankovic and… his parents. Also showcased during the ceremony, the Indie-izer, Patton’s newly developed app that turns any Hollywood big budget film into an indie film.
The Spirit Awards were the first event to exclusively honor independent film, and over the past 29 years, has become the premier awards show for the independent film community, celebrating films made by filmmakers who embody independence and originality. Artists who have received industry recognition first at the Spirit Awards include Joel & Ethan Coen, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Ashley Judd, Robert Rodriguez, David O. Russell, Edward Burns, Aaron Eckhart, Neil LaBute, Darren Aronofsky, Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, Hilary Swank, Marc Forster, Scarlett Johansson, Todd Field, Christopher Nolan, Zach Braff, Amy Adams and many more.
This year’s major category winners were 12 Years a Slave, which won Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Female and Best Cinematography and Dallas Buyers Club, which won Best Supporting Male and Best Male Lead; Fruitvale Station which won Best First Feature and Nebraska, which won Best First Screenplay; Blue Jasmine, which won Best Female Lead, Short Term 12 which won Best Editing; This is Martin Bonner, which won the John Cassavetes Award; Blue is the Warmest Color, which won Best International Film and 20 Feet from Stardom which won Best Documentary.
The 7th annual Robert Altman Award was given to one film’s director, casting director, and ensemble cast. Jeff Nichols’ Mud received this award, along with casting director Francine Maisler and ensemble cast members Joe Don Baker, Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Sam Shepard, Tye Sheridan, Paul Sparks, Bonnie Sturdivant and Reese Witherspoon.
The 2014 Roger and Chaz Ebert Fellowship which includes a cash grant of $10,000 was awarded to Lulu Wang. This annual award is given to a filmmaker currently participating in Film Independent’s signature diversity mentorship program, Project Involve. Wang wrote and directed her first feature film Posthumous set in Berlin, starring Jack Huston and Brit Marling.
The Bright Future Award, sponsored by Unilever Project Sunlight, honors a filmmaker whose work best exemplifies a commitment to telling stories of positive change in the world. The inaugural Bright Future Award recipient is Patrick Creadon, whose film, If You Build It, exemplifies the power of hands-on education and the impact a few budding creative minds can have on the future of a community. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Unilever Project Sunlight.
On January 11 the following winners were honored at the Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grant and Nominee Brunch at BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood: Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston received the Piaget Producers Award. The award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The annual award, in its 17th year, includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget. Finalists were Jacob Jaffke, Andrea Roa and Frederick Thornton.
Jason Osder, director of Let the Fire Burn, received the Stella Artois Truer Than Fiction Award. The award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not received significant recognition. The award is in its 19th year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Stella Artois. Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez for Manakamana and Kalyanee Mam for A River Changes Course were also finalists for the award.
Shaka King, director of Newlyweeds, received the Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award. The award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award is in its 20th year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant. The finalists for the award included Aaron Douglas Johnston for My Sister’s Quinceañera and Madeleine Olnek for The Foxy Merkins.
Darlene Love, Judith Hill, Merry Clayton and Tata Vega from the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom performed at the show.
Nominees, special award recipients and celebrities who attended included Shohreh Aghdashloo, Fred Armisen, Katie Aselton, Joe Don Baker, Angela Bassett, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Lake Bell, Maria Bello, Cate Blanchett, Joy Bryant, Merry Clayton, Paul Dano, Rosario Dawson, Majandra Delfino, Julie Delpy, Bruce Dern, Laura Dern, Melonie Diaz, Mark Duplass, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Will Forte, Willie Garson, Greta Gerwig, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jonathan Groff, Bill Hader, Kathryn Hahn, Jon Hamm, Ethan Hawke, Sally Hawkins, Garrett Hedlund, Judith Hill, Gaby Hoffmann, Michael B. Jordan, Alex Karpovsky, Stana Katic, Anna Kendrick, Zoe Kravitz, Brie Larson, Jared Leto, Gong Li, Jacob Lofland, Darlene Love, Diego Luna, Jane Lynch, Marc Maron, Matthew McConaughey, Cristin Milioti, Elisabeth Moss, Lupita Nyong’o, Paula Patton, Sarah Paulson,
Brad Pitt, Aubrey Plaza, Josh Radnor, Keanu Reeves, Jeremy Renner, Krysten Ritter, Elizabeth Rohm, Yolonda Ross, Andy Samberg, Michael Shannon, Michael Sheen, Tye Sheridan, Columbus Short, Paul Sparks, Octavia Spencer, June Squibb, Keith Stanfield, Geoff Stults, Bonnie Sturdivant, Miles Teller, Juno Temple, Tata Vega, M. Emmet Walsh, David Walton, John Waters, Michaela Watkins, Reggie Watts, Josh Welsh, Ming-Na Wen, Forest Whitaker, Reese Witherspoon, Alfre Woodard and Shailene Woodley.
The following is a complete list of the winners:
Best Feature: 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures) Producers: Dede Gardner, Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Brad Pitt, Bill Pohlad
Best Director: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Best Screenplay: John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Best First Feature: Fruitvale Station (The Weinstein Company) Director: Ryan Coogler, Producers: Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker
Best First Screenplay: Bob Nelson, Nebraska (Paramount Pictures)
John Cassavetes Award (For best feature made under $500,000): This is Martin Bonner (Monterey Media inc) Writer/Director: Chad Hartigan, Producer: Cherie Saulter
Best Supporting Female: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Best Supporting Male: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features)
Best Female Lead: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine (Sony Pictures Classics)
Best Male Lead: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club, (Focus Features)
Robert Altman Award: Mud (Roadside Attractions / Lionsgate) Director: Jeff Nichols, Casting Director: Francine Maisler, Ensemble Cast: Joe Don Baker, Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Sam Shepard, Tye Sheridan, Paul Sparks, Bonnie Sturdivant, Reese Witherspoon
Best Cinematography: Sean Bobbitt, 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Best Editing: Nat Sanders, Short Term 12 (Cinedigm)
Best International Film: Blue is the Warmest Color (France- IFC Films) Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Best Documentary: 20 Feet From Stardom (Radius-TWC) Director/Producer: Morgan Neville, Producers: Gil Friesen, Caitrin Rogers
The Film Independent Spirit Awards is sponsored by Premier Sponsors Piaget, the Lincoln Motor Company and IFC and by Principal Sponsors Stella Artois and Experian. Unilever Project Sunlight is the Official Sponsor of the Live Arrivals Show streamed exclusively on Yahoo and additional sponsors include Skype, LensCrafters and Kiehl’s Since 1851. Dark Horse is the Official Wine Sponsor, WireImage is the Official Photographer and PR Newswire is the Official Breaking News Service of Film Independent. Water is provided by Fiji Water and spirits by Patrón Tequila. Digital broadcast support is provided by TV Pro Gear. The production team for this year’s Spirit Awards includes executive producer Diana Zahn-Storey, Producers Chris Donovan, Shawn Davis and John Hamilton.