Film Independent Gives Out $150K in Grants at Annual Brunch

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John Cho and Alia Shawkat at the Spirit Awards Nominee Brunch

John Cho and Alia Shawkat announced the recipients, which included 'The Rider' helmer Chloe Zhao and 'Gook' director Justin Chon.

At Film Independent's annual Spirit Awards Nominee Brunch on Saturday, the organization announced the five recipients of its filmmakers grants.

Actors John Cho and Alia Shawkat co-hosted the event and handed out the honors at the brunch, held at BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood.

"This year we are giving out $150,000 in cash grants to a group of remarkably talented writers, directors, and producers," said Film Independent president Josh Welsh. "The Spirit Awards grants are designed to provide critical support to these filmmakers, recognizing them for past accomplishments and helping them to develop new work."

Chloe Zhao, who helmed The Rider, received the inaugural Bonnie Award, which recognizes a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant sponsored by American Airlines. Finalists for the award were So Yong Kim and Lynn Shelton.

Jonathan Olshefski, director of Quest, received the Jeepa 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 23rd year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by the Jeep brand for the first year. Finalists for the award were Shevaun Mizrahi, director of Distant Constellation, and Jeff Unay, director of The Cage Fighter.

Justin Chon, director of Gook, received the Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award, which recognizes talented filmmakers of singular vision who have not yet received appropriate recognition.The award is in its 24th year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl’s for the fourth consecutive year. Finalists for the award were Amman Abbasi, director of Dayveon, and Kevin Phillips, director of Super Dark Times.

Summer Shelton received the Piaget Producers Award, which honors emerging producers who, despite limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality independent films. The annual award, in its 21st year, includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget for the 11th year. Finalists for the award were Giulia Caruso & Ki Jin Kim and Ben Leclair.

Matty Brown received the Seattle Story Award, given to a filmmaker who exhibits innovation, diversity and uniqueness of vision and has a history of transforming perspectives through rich stories. It includes a $25,000 cash grant, sponsored by Visit Seattle, to create a short film inspired by Seattle’s independent spirit. This film will premiere during the Spirit Awards broadcast.

The 33rd edition of the Film Independent Spirit Awards will be held Saturday, March 3, and will broadcast live on IFC at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET.