- LOS ANGELES
Film Independent has named filmmaker Shaka King (Judas and the Black Messiah) as its Honorary Chair at the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards. In this capacity, King helped announce the winners of three unrestricted $25,000 Spirit Awards cash grants--$75,000 total, provided by Spirit Awards premier sponsor Genesis Motor North America--given to emerging filmmakers: the Someone To Watch Award, the Producers Award and the Truer Than Fiction Award.
Ekwa Msangi, director of Farewell Amor, received the Someone to Watch Award. The award recognizes talented filmmakers of singular vision who have not yet received appropriate recognition. The award is in its 27th year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Finalists for the award were David Midell, director of The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain, and Annie Silverstein, director of Bull.
Gerry Kim received the 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 24th year, includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Finalists for the award were Kara Durrett and Lucas Joaquin.
Elegance Bratton, director of Pier Kids, received the Truer Than Fiction Award. The award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award is in its 26th year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Finalists for the award were Cecilia Aldarondo, director of Landfall, and Elizabeth Lo, director of Stray.
“Shaka King electrified audiences this year with his tour de force film Judas and the Black Messiah. As a director who won the Someone to Watch Award only a few years ago, we can’t think of a better person to serve as our Honorary Chair at this year’s Spirit Awards,” said Film Independent president Josh Welsh. “With the Spirit Award grants, we celebrate the most talented emerging writers, producers and directors, working today in fiction as well as non-fiction, and are deeply grateful to Genesis for their generous support.”
King previously won the Someone To Watch Award in 2014 for the film Newlyweeds and announced the 2021 recipients alongside two other prior Spirit Award grant winners: Mel Eslyn (2016 Producers Award) and Nanfu Wang (2017 Truer Than Fiction Award.)
Past Honorary Chairs include Lena Waithe, Ava DuVernay, Jessica Chastain, Ang Lee, David Oyelowo, Jodie Foster, Javier Bardem, Kerry Washington, Tom Cruise, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore, among others. Previous Spirit Award Grant Award winners include Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Effie T. Brown, Elizabeth Chai Vaserhelyi, Karin Chien, Justin Chon, Larry Fessenden, Debra Granik, Bing Liu, Lynn Shelton, Chloe Zhaó and Kelly Reichardt.
Winners for the remaining categories will be revealed at the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards, hosted by SNL’s Melissa Villaseñor and airing exclisively on IFC and AMC+ on Thursday, April 22. The Spirit Awards are the primary fundraiser for Film Independent’s year-round programs, which cultivate the careers of emerging filmmakers and promote diversity in the industry.