Why the Spirit Award Nominations List Was Leaked Early Again This Year

For the second year in a row, the noms were revealed earlier than scheduled, but as Film Independent president Josh Welsh says, "You have to roll with it."
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From left: Josh Welsh, Elizabeth Olsen, John Boyega

Awards announcement events are typically electric, fun and even entertaining. But the energy this morning inside the W Hotel in Hollywood where Film Independent rolled out 2016 roster of Independent Spirit Award nominees was muted and even a bit depressed. The reason?

The organization broke its own embargo by accidentally posting the nominations on its own website at 10:00 a.m. EST rather than the planned 10:00 a.m. PST before recognizing the error and then quickly taking them down to await the formal announcement.

Even though word of the nominations began circulating on social media, Film Independent president Josh Welsh still joined actors Elizabeth Olsen and John Boyega for the official announcement in front of invited press and photographers. 

The Spirit Awards nominees leaking prematurely is becoming an annual tradition: In 2014, PR Newswire broke an embargo and posted the nominees ahead of the announcement.

In explaining what happened this year, Welsh blamed it on a "back-end technical issue," adding that the list was up only briefly and immediately taken down. "These things happen and you have to roll with it," he said later on the red carpet. "We wish it hadn’t happened, but it’s not that big of a deal. We’re just so excited to be here today announcing all of the nominees and getting this out to the world."

As the news did make its way into the world, Olsen and Boyega did deliver a jolt of positivity to the festivities by playfully going off-script a few times. 

Film Independent also used the occasion to break a bit of news: The Spirit Awards, which are set to be held Feb. 27, are moving from their usual spot on the beach in Santa Monica further north, next to the Santa Monica Pier (lot 1550). Welsh said that it will be the same tent and the same piece of real estate, just a new location. "Due to changes in regulations and zoning laws south of the pier, we're moving," he explained. "But [Santa Monica] wants us to be there and we want to be there. That's our home, and it's part of the identity of the show."

Welsh also told The Hollywood Reporter that he's optimistic about the future of diversity in independent film, as evidenced by this year's crop of nominees, despite the fact that there aren't any women nominated in the best director category.

"One of the things that excites me about this year is that there are 44 films that received nominations and across those 44 films, 32 percent of them are directed by women and 34 percent are directed by people of color," he explained. "I think they should be higher, but to me, it’s a promising sign."

The Film Independent Spirit Awards are presented by premier sponsors Piaget, Bank of America, Heineken, American Airlines, Jaguar and IFC, with FIJI Water as the official water. 

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