Film Independent Reveals Three Spirit Award Winners

King Jack Still - H
Courtesy Tribeca Film Fest

At its annual nominees brunch, the indie film organization handed out $75,000 in filmmaker grants.

By way of previewing Film Independent’s Spirit Awards, which will take place Feb. 27, the indie film organization on Saturday announced three awards, accompanied by $75,000 in grants.

Mel Eslyn received the Piaget Producers Award, honoring “emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films,” and which includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Finalists for the award were Darren Dean, Rebecca Green and Laura D. Smith.

Felix Thompson, director of King Jack, received the Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award, which goes to “talented filmmakers of singular vision who have not yet received appropriate recognition” and which also includes a $25,000 grant. Finalists for the award were Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck, directors of God Bless the Child, and Chloé Zhao, director of Songs My Brothers Taught Me.

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, director of Incorruptible, received the Truer Than Fiction Award, presented to “an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not received significant recognition” as well as a $25,000 grant. Finalists for the award were Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi, directors of Among the Believers, and Elizabeth Giamatti and Alex Sichel, directors of A Woman Like Me.

The three Spirit Awards filmmaker grants were announced at the annual Spirit Awards Nominee Brunch, held at BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood. Uzo Aduba and Rami Malek co-hosted the event and handed out the honors.

“This year’s recipients of the Spirit Award cash grants are so talented, and we’re thrilled to be able to support them in this way,” said Film Independent president Josh Welsh. “Our hope is that these unrestricted grants will enable the filmmakers to continue to make great and daring work."