Spirit Awards: 'Mudbound' Director Dee Rees Argues Her Netflix Film Is "Cinema"

Rees gave an impassioned speech accepting the Robert Altman Award for her movie during Saturday's show.

On the award's 10th anniversary, the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards gave the Robert Altman Award to Mudbound.

Filmmaker Robert Altman began the tradition in 2008 to recognize films with outstanding ensemble casts. The cast, directors and casting directors share the title.

Mary J. Blige, Jonathan Banks, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Rob Morgan and Carey Mulligan will take home the prize as an ensemble cast. Director Dee Rees, who also co-wrote the screenplay, and casting directors Billy Hopkins and Ashley Ingram are also part of the honor.

"I know that as independent filmmakers, as the so-called rebels, as the outsiders creating without respect to means or access — I know that we of all makers are far, far beyond any tokenism," Rees began her acceptance speech. 

She thanked her actors and her crew, including cinematographer Rachel Morrison. Then Rees made sure to point out that no matter where a film is shown — online, on TV, or on an Imax screen — it can still be a compelling film. (Mudbound is a Netflix film.)

"Mudbound is cinema, and we are grateful for this recognition," Rees finished up.

Mudbound also is up for four Academy Awards on Sunday, including Mary J. Blige for best supporting actress and best original song. It also is nominated for best adapted screenplay, written by Rees and Virgil Williams, while Morrison is the first woman nominated for cinematography.

The movie tells the story of two young men returning to their rural Mississippi home after World War II.

Last year's Robert Altman Award winner was Barry Jenkins' Moonlight, whose ensemble cast featured Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali. The movie went on to be named best picture at the Oscars amid an epic best picture flub.

The 2018 Independent Spirit Awards, hosted by John Mulaney and Nick Kroll, aired live Saturday on IFC.