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March 23, 1985
Conceived by Jeanne Lucas and IFP/West president Anne Kimmel, the “Findies” (Friends of Independent Awards) are handed out at a modest ceremony featuring construction paper programs at the L.A. restaurant 385 North.
March 22, 1986
The “Findies'” become the Independent Spirit Awards. Trophies are bestowed in seven categories, with Martin Scorsese (“After Hours”) and Joel Coen (“Blood Simple”) sharing best director honors.
March 25, 1989
The Spirits move to the Hollywood Roosevelt to accommodate a crowd of 350. Keynote speaker Oliver Stone revs up the assembly by urging them to stick to their indie souls. “It’s inch by motherf***ing inch,” he says.
April 20, 1991
The Spirits hit television as Bravo airs a taped 30-minute special, hosted by L.A. Times writer Charles Champlin.
March 28, 1992
Honorary co-chair Jodie Foster shakes up the crowd with a scathing speech titled “The Scum-Sucking Vampire Pig Theory of Hollywood.”
March 27, 1993
The awards move to Santa Monica beach. Screenwriter Buck Henry hosts for the eighth consecutive year, setting the mood with a joke about the Academy Awards. “As they assemble in their gaudy palaces, we gather here, holding high our torch of self-righteousness.” Henry gets his biggest laugh when he refers to Bob and Harvey Weinstein as the Kray Brothers (the sadistic, English crime twins).
March 21, 1994
Bravo counter-programs the Oscars with Spirits highlights. Each time ABC breaks for a commercial, Bravo airs previously taped segments. Viewership skyrockets.
March 22, 1997
The awards go live for the first time on IFC. The ceremony, hosted by Samuel L. Jackson, is unusually subdued.
March 23, 1996
Attempting to appease his guilt for betraying the indie community, Kevin Smith apologizes for making “Mallrats.”
March 20, 1999
Ally Sheedy stuns the crowd with a rambling 10-minute acceptance speech for best female lead (“High Art”). “I’ve never been nominated before and (this) may never happen again,” she warns in advance.
March 25, 2000
Focus’ James Schamus bemoans the state of independent filmmaking in a somber keynote address accusing today’s “so-called indies” of being corporations. IFP/West decides to drop the keynote address from future ceremonies.
Steve Coogan and Frank Coraci in 2009
March 22, 2003
Michael Moore makes headlines in accepting the best documentary trophy for “Bowling for Columbine” when he says, “It’s strange to win a prize for a nonfiction film in a time when we have a fictitious president conducting a war for fictitious reasons.”
Feb. 28, 2004
Bill Murray accepts the best male lead honors for “Lost in Translation” by proclaiming, “I have no prepared remarks. I didn’t feel that would be independent.”
Feb. 21, 2009
Comedians Steve Coogan and Frank Coraci score the night’s biggest laughs by introducing the best documentary award as an f-bomb-spewing Christian Bale in a Batman suit and a scraggly bearded Joaquin Phoenix.
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