AND THE WINNERS OF THE 2014 FILM INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARDS ARE. . . .
Under threat of rain and cover of tents, emotions and energy were as high and as raging with fun and comaraderie as the wild surf on the beach at Santa Monica. While dodging raindrops and even seeing a peak of the sun throughout the afternoon, by the time big name winners Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey and 12 Years a Slave, took to the stage, the skies opened and thundered roared as if the gods themselves were applauding and crying tears of joy for the celebration of indie spirit and exemplary filmmaking.
Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, handed out top honors to 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club and Nebraska at the afternoon's 29th Film Independent Spirit Awards. Blue Jasmine, Fruitvale Station, Blue is the Warmest Color, Short Term 12, This is Martin Bonner and 20 Feet from Stardom also received awards at the ceremony.
Held on the beach at Santa Monica and hosted by Patton Oswalt, along with the handing out of awards which are voted on by Film Independent members, the customary looser tone of the Spirit Awards was filled with some hapless hijinx, among them, the first ever award delivered via Wild Rabbit's state-of-the-art drone, "motivational" messages for Oswalt vis Skype from Sarah Silverman, Reggie Watts, Weird Al Yankovic and even Oswalt's own his parents. Also showcased during the ceremony, the Indie-izer, Patton's newly developed app that turns any Hollywood big budget film into an indie film.
The Spirit Awards were the first event to exclusively honor independent film, and over the past 29 years, has become the premier awards show for the independent film community, celebrating films made by filmmakers who embody independence and originality.
This year's major category winners were 12 Years a Slave, which won Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Female and Best Cinematography and Dallas Buyers Club, which won Best Supporting Male and Best Male Lead; Fruitvale Station which won Best First Feature and Nebraska, which won Best First Screenplay; Blue Jasmine, which won Best Female Lead, Short Term 12 which won Best Editing; This is Martin Bonner, which won the John Cassavetes Award; Blue is the Warmest Color, which won Best International Film and 20 Feet from Stardom which won Best Documentary.
The coveted 7th annual Robert Altman Award was given to one film's director, casting director, and ensemble cast. This year Jeff Nichols' Mud received this award, along with casting director Francine Maisler and ensemble cast members, Joe Don Baker, Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Sam Shepard, Tye Sheridan, Paul Sparks, Bonnie Sturdivant and Reese Witherspoon.
Specialty awards with unrestricted monetary grants included, The 2014 Roger and Chaz Ebert Fellowship which includes a cash grant of $10,000 was awarded to Lulu Wang. This annual award is given to a filmmaker currently participating in Film Independent's signature diversity mentorship program, Project Involve. Wang wrote and directed her first feature film Posthumous, set in Berlin, starring Jack Huston and Brit Marling; The Bright Future Award, sponsored by Unilever Project Sunlight, honors a filmmaker whose work best exemplifies a commitment to telling stories of positive change in the world. This inaugural award, including a $25,000 grant, was presented to Patrick Creadon, whose film, If You Build It, exemplifies the power of hands-on education and the impact a few budding creative minds can have on the future of a community. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Unilever Project Sunlight.
AND THE WINNERS ARE:
Best Feature: 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Producers: Dede Gardner, Anthony Katagas, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Brad Pitt, Bill Pohlad
Best Director: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Best Screenplay: John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Best First Feature: Fruitvale Station (The Weinstein Company)
Director: Ryan Coogler, Producers: Nina Yang Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker
Best First Screenplay: Bob Nelson, Nebraska (Paramount Pictures)
John Cassavetes Award (For best feature made under $500,000):
This is Martin Bonner (Monterey Media inc)
Writer/Director: Chad Hartigan, Producer: Cherie Saulter
Best Supporting Female: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Best Supporting Male: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features)
Best Female Lead: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine (Sony Pictures Classics)
Best Male Lead: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features)
Robert Altman Award: Mud (Roadside Attractions / Lionsgate)
Director: Jeff Nichols, Casting Director: Francine Maisler, Ensemble Cast: Joe Don Baker, Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Sam Shepard, Tye Sheridan, Paul Sparks, Bonnie Sturdivant, Reese Witherspoon
Best Cinematography: Sean Bobbitt, 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Best Editing: Nat Sanders, Short Term 12 (Cinedigm)
Best International Film: Blue is the Warmest Color (France- IFC Films)
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Best Documentary: 20 Feet From Stardom (Radius-TWC)
Director/Producer: Morgan Neville, Producers: Gil Friesen, Caitrin Rogers