The three winners of the 2016 Spirit Awards filmmaker grants were unveiled at the annual Spirit Awards Nominee Brunch hosted by Uzo Aduba and Rami Malek. This year marks the 31st edition of the awards show that celebrates the best of independent film. Winners for the remaining categories will be revealed at the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards in a tent at Santa Monica beach on Saturday, February 27.
“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 Josh Welsh, president of Film Independent. “Our hope is that these unrestricted grants will enable the filmmakers to continue to make great and daring work.”
Mel Eslyn received the Piaget Producers Award. The award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The annual award, in its 19th year, includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget for the 9th year. 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. The award recognizes talented filmmakers of singular vision who have not yet received appropriate recognition. The award is in its 22nd year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl’s Since 1851. Finalists for the award were Robert Machoian & 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. The award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not received significant recognition. The award is in its 21st year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted 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.