35th Annual Independent Spirit Awards Nominations Revealed

35th Annual Independent Spirit Awards Nominations Revealed

LOS ANGELES (November 21, 2019) – This morning, Film Independent announced the nominations for the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards. The Spirit Awards are the primary fundraiser for Film Independent’s year-round programs, which cultivate the careers of emerging filmmakers and promote diversity and inclusion in the industry. Film Independent President Josh Welsh presided over the press conference with actors Zazie Beetz (Atlanta, Joker, Deadpool 2)and Natasha Lyonne (Ad Astra, Orange is the New Black, Russian Doll) presenting the nominations, hosted by The LINE LA. Nominees for Best Feature included A Hidden Life, Clemency, The Farewell, Marriage Story, and Uncut Gems.  This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Santa Monica beach-adjacent award show.

Marriage Story was selected to receive the Robert Altman Award, which is bestowed upon one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast. The Altman Award was created in 2008 in honor of legendary director Robert Altman who was known for creating extraordinary ensemble casts.

“The Film Independent Spirit Awards celebrate the best films of the year – films characterized by creative independence and original, provocative subject matter, as well as diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision,” said Film Independent President Josh Welsh. “At a time when the film business is undergoing such change and challenges, it’s important to loudly celebrate the work itself – the films! – and to recognize 2019 as a year of bold, audacious and accomplished filmmaking. That’s what the Spirit Awards are all about.”

Welsh added, “The Spirit Awards are a unique awards show in that the winners are chosen by the members of Film Independent, an open-access organization made up of film lovers and filmmakers alike. To everyone who cares about film and who wants to help shine a bright light on the great work being made today, I urge you to join Film Independent by December 5 and become part of our voting body!”

Winners, who are selected by Film Independent Members, will be announced at the Spirit Awards on Saturday, February 8, 2020. The awards ceremony will be held on the beach in Santa Monica, just north of the Santa Monica Pier. The show will be broadcast live exclusively on IFC at 2:00 pm PT/ 5:00 pm ET.

The Spirit Awards Nominating Committees selected nominees from over 430 submissions this year and applied the following guidelines in determining the nominations: uniqueness of vision, original and provocative subject matter, the economy of means. The Spirit Awards Nominating Committees are comprised of writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, editors, actors, critics, casting directors, film festival programmers and other working film professionals. Winners of the Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grants will be announced at the Film Independent Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grant and Nominee Brunch on Saturday, January 4, 2020.

Film Independent is proud to announce the return of its collaboration with American Airlines, who joins for the sixth year and returns to fund the Bonnie Award, recognizing a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant. And we welcome this year’s Official Automotive Partner, Mazda.

For more information on submission guidelines, voting, the history of the Spirit Awards and more, please visit spiritawards.com.

The Nominees are:

BEST FEATURE (Award given to the producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)

A Hidden Life

Producers: Elisabeth Bentley, Dario Bergesio, Grant Hill, Josh Jeter


Producers: Timur Bekbosunov, Julian Cautherley, Bronwyn Cornelius, Peter Wong

The Farewell

Producers: Anita Gou, Daniele Melia, Andrew Miano, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Lulu

Wang, Chris Weitz, Jane Zheng

Marriage Story

Producers: Noah Baumbach, David Heyman

Uncut Gems

Producers: Eli Bush, Sebastian Bear-McClard, Scott Rudin

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)


Director: Olivia Wilde

Producers: Chelsea Barnard, David Distenfeld, Jessica Elbaum, Megan Ellison,

Katie Silberman

The Climb

Director/Producer: Michael Angelo Covino

Producers: Noah Lang, Kyle Marvin


Director: Kent Jones

Producers: Luca Borghese, Ben Howe, Caroline Kaplan, Oren Moverman

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Director/Producer: Joe Talbot

Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Khaliah Neal, Christina Oh

The Mustang

Director: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre

Producer: Ilan Goldman

See You Yesterday

Director: Stefon Bristol

Producer: Spike Lee

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARDGiven to the best feature made for under $500,000 (Award given to the writer, director and producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)

Burning Cane

Writer/Director/Producer: Phillip Youmans

Producers: Ojo Akinlana, Jakob Johnson, Karen Kaia Livers, Mose Mayer,

Wendell Pierce, Isaac Webb, Cassandra Youmans


Writer/Director: Tom Quinn

Producers: Joshua Blum, Alexandra Byer, Craig Shilowich, Matthew Thurm

Give Me Liberty

Writer/Director/Producer: Kirill Mikhanovsky

Writer/Producer: Alice Austen

Producers: Val Abel, Wally Hall, Michael Manasseri, George Rush, Sergey Shtern


Writer/Director/Producer: Rashaad Ernesto Green

Writer: Zora Howard

Producer: Darren Dean, Joy Ganes

Wild Nights With Emily

Writer/Director/Producer: Madeleine Olnek

Producers: Anna Margarita Albelo, Casper Andreas, Max Rifkind-Barron


Alma Har’el

Honey Boy

Lorene Scafaria


Julius Onah


Robert Eggers

The Lighthouse

Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie

Uncut Gems


Noah Baumbach

Marriage Story

Jason Begue, Shawn Snyder

To Dust

Ronald Bronstein & Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie

Uncut Gems 

Chinonye Chukwu


Tarell Alvin McCraney

High Flying Bird


Fredrica Bailey & Stefon Bristol

See You Yesterday

Hannah Bos & Paul Thureen


Bridget Savage Cole & Danielle Krudy

Blow the Man Down

Jocelyn DeBoer & Dawn Luebbe

Greener Grass

James Montague & Craig W. Sanger

The Vast of Night


Todd Banhazl


Jarin Blaschke

The Lighthouse

Natasha Braier

Honey Boy

Chananun Chotrungroj

The Third Wife

Pawel Pogorzelski



Julie Béziau

The Third Wife

Ronald Bronstein & Benny Safdie

Uncut Gems

Tyler L. Cook

Sword of Trus

Louise Ford

The Lighthouse

Kirill Mikhanovsky

Give Me Liberty


Karen Allen


Hong Chau


Elisabeth Moss

Her Smell

Mary Kay Place


Alfre Woodard


Renée Zellweger



Chris Galust

Give Me Liberty

Kelvin Harrison Jr.


Robert Pattinson

The Lighthouse

Matthias Schoenaerts

The Mustang

Adam Sandler

Uncut Gems


Jennifer Lopez


Taylor Russell


Lauren “LoLo” Spencer

Give Me Liberty

Octavia Spencer


Zhao Shuzhen

The Farewell


Willem Dafoe

The Lighthouse 

Noah Jupe

Honey Boy

Shia LaBeouf

Honey Boy

Jonathan Majors

The Last Black Man in San Francisco 

Wendell Pierce

Burning Cane 

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD – Given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast

Marriage Story

Director: Noah Baumbach

Casting Directors: Douglas Aibel, Francine Maisler

Ensemble Cast: Alan Alda, Laura Dern, Adam Driver, Julie Hagerty, Scarlett Johansson,

Ray Liotta, Azhy Robertson, Merritt Wever

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)

American Factory

Director/Producer: Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert

Producers: Julie Parker Benello, Jeff Reichert

 Apollo 11

Director/Producer: Todd Douglas Miller

Producers: Evan Krauss, Thomas Baxley Petersen

 For Sama

Director: Edward Watts

Director/Producer: Waad al-Kateab


Director: Tamara Kotevska

Director/Producer: Ljubo Stefanov

Producer: Atanas Georgiev

 Island of the Hungry Ghosts

Director/Producer: Gabrielle Brady

Producers: Gizem Acarla, Samm Haillay, Alex Kelly, Alexander Wadouh

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)

Invisible Life


Director: Karim Aïnouz

Les Misérables


Director: Ladj Ly


South Korea

Director: Bong Joon-Ho 

Portrait of a Lady on Fire


Director: Céline Sciamma



Director: Álvaro Delgado-Aparicio L.

The Souvenir

United Kingdom

Director: Joanna Hogg 

BONNIE AWARD – Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo joined American Airlines in 1973 at age 24, becoming the first female pilot to fly for a major U.S. airline. In her honor, the third Bonnie Award will recognize a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant, sponsored by American Airlines.

Marielle Heller

Kelly Reichardt

Lulu Wang 

PRODUCERS AWARD – The 23rd annual Producers Award honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.


Mollye Asher

Krista Parris

Ryan Zacarias

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 26th annual Someone to Watch Award recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

Rashaad Ernesto Green

Director of Premature 

Ash Mayfair

Director of The Third Wife

Joe Talbot

Director of The Last Black Man in San Francisco

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 25th annual Truer Than Fiction Award is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

Khalik Allah

Director of Black Mother

Davy Rothbart

Director of 17 Blocks

Nadia Shihab

Director of Jaddoland

Erick Stoll & Chase Whiteside

Director of América 

The 35th Annual Independent Spirit Awards will air on IFC on Saturday, February 8, 2020 at 2:00 pm PT / 5:00 pm ET

About the Film Independent Spirit Awards

Now in its 35th year, the Film Independent Spirit Awards is an annual celebration honoring artist-driven films made with an economy of means by filmmakers whose films embody independence and originality. The Spirit Awards recognizes the achievements of American independent filmmakers and promotes the finest independent films of the year to a wider audience.

The Film Independent Spirit Awards are sponsored by Premier Sponsors American Airlines, IFC and Mazda. Bulleit Frontier Whiskey is the Official Spirit. FIJI Water is the Official Water. Getty Images is the Official Photographer. Town & Country Event Rentals is the Exclusive Rental Company.

Written by
Born in New Jersey, Scott D. Menzel has been a film fanatic since he was three years old. Growing up, he watched as many movies as he could and was highly influenced by Tim Burton, John Hughes, Robert Zemeckis, and Steven Spielberg. Scott has an Associates Degree in Marketing, a Bachelors in Mass Media, Communications and a Masters in Electronic Media. He has been writing film reviews under the alias of MovieManMenzel since 2003 and started his writing career as a contributing critic at IMDB.com and Joblo.com. In 2009, Scott launched MovieManMenzel.com where he posted several of his film reviews but in 2011 decided to shut down the site when he launched We Live Film.com, which he founded. In 2015, We Live Film became We Live Entertainment. The domain name changed occurred after months of debate but was done so that he and his fellow staff members could write about anything and everything in the world of entertainment.

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