Film Independent Spirit Awards Show Extends Reach, Adds TV Categories
Josh Welsh, president of Film Independent
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Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards, has added television prizes for the 2021 program. The 2021 television categories include Best New Scripted Series, Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series, Best Male Performance, Best Female Performance, and Best Ensemble Cast. The organization also announced that the 2021 show will be returning to longstanding broadcast partner IFC, and that submissions for the 2021 program are now officially open. The show will take place on April 24, 2021.

“The independent, diverse creators we’ve supported for decades now straddle the feature and episodic worlds,” said Board chair Mary Sweeney. “Our mission supports and celebrates visual storytellers wherever they practice their craft. The addition of TV Spirit Awards recognizes this expansion by celebrating diverse independent, creative voices across platforms.”

For several years, Film Independent has incorporated television and episodic work in its year-round programs, including Education, Artist Development and its screening program, Film Independent Presents. As opportunities have continued to grow for filmmakers to create bold, original work in this space, the organization decided it was time to celebrate that work at the Spirit Awards, beginning in 2021.

Additionally, it was announced that the 2021 Spirit Awards once again will be broadcast on IFC. IFC has broadcast the show since 1994.

“2020 has been a year of endless change and chaos, so it’s wonderful to be back with our friends at IFC,” said Josh Welsh, president of Film Independent. “As tough as this year has been, there’s so much great filmmaking and yes, television, that has sustained us throughout the pandemic. We look forward to celebrating that work at the Spirit Awards in April.”

Blake Callaway, executive director, IFC and SundanceTV, said, “2020 provides an opportunity for a re-imagined Spirit Awards and just about everything else. Expanding the most entertaining stop on the awards circuit to include television is just the start, and IFC is looking forward to a continued partnership with our friends at Film Independent.”

The early deadline for Spirit Award submissions is October 13, 2020, the regular deadline is October 27, 2020, the final deadline is November 17, 2020 and the extended Film Independent member deadline is November 20, 2020. The nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. Celebrating 36 years, the 2020 Awards will be held on Saturday, April 24, 2021.

“The Film Independent nominations process is a unique and inspiring one,” said Setu Raval, associate director of nominations. “It is an inclusive gathering of filmmakers, programmers, critics and performers with the common goal to curate and celebrate bold, diverse, authentic and innovative visual storytelling. We are excited to open the 2021 Spirit Awards Submissions.”

The 2021 Spirit Awards will honor artist-driven storytellers across 20 categories as follows:

New TV Awards:

  • Best New Scripted Series
  • Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series
  • Best Male Performance in a Scripted Series 
  • Best Female Performance in a Scripted Series 
  • Best Ensemble Cast in a Scripted Series

Feature Film Awards:

  • Best Feature
  • Best First Feature
  • Best Director
  • Best Screenplay
  • Best First Screenplay
  • John Cassavettes Award
  • Best Male Lead
  • Best Female Lead
  • Best Supporting Male
  • Best Supporting Female
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Editing
  • Robert Altman Award 
  • Best International Film 
  • Best Documentary 

Film Independent will continue to honor emerging filmmakers with the Truer Than Fiction Award, Producers Award and the Someone to Watch Award.


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