2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grant Winners Announced


Film Independent, the organization and nonprofit that produces both the Spirit Awards and the LA Film Festival, announced the full list of winners of its five Spirit Awards filmmaker grants today at its annual Spirit Awards Nominee Brunch held at prestigious BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood, CA. John Cho (from Star Trek, Columbus, Search) and Alia Shawkat (from Search Party, Blaze) co-hosted the event and also handed out the honors.




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Exciting!  “This year we gave out $150,000 in cash grants to this group of remarkably talented producers, writers, and directors,” said Film Independent Pres. Josh Welsh. “The Spirit Awards grants are created to provide critical support to filmmakers, recognizing their past accomplishments and helping them develop new work.”

Chloé Zhao was handed the inaugural Bonnie Award. Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo started at American Airlines in 1973 at age 24, becoming their first female pilot to fly for any major U.S. airline. In her namesake honor, the Bonnie Award recognizes a mid-career female director with a $50,000 unrestricted grant sponsored by American Airlines. Finalists for the award were the very talented So Yong Kim and Lynn Shelton. 

Jonathan Olshefski, filmmaker of Quest, was awarded the Jeep’s Truer Than Fiction Award. The award is presented to an emerging director for non-fiction features who has not yet received major recognition. The award, in its 23rd year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant, is funded by the Jeep brand for the first year. Finalists for the award are Shevaun Mizrahi, filmmaker of Distant Constellation and Jeff Unay, filmmaker of The Cage Fighter.


Justin Chon, filmmaker of Gook, received Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award. This award shines on talented filmmakers with singular vision who haven’t yet received major recognition. The award which is in its 24th year, includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant from Kiehl’s Since 1851 for the fourth year in a row. Finalists for were Amman Abbasi, director of Dayveon and Kevin Phillips, director of Super Dark Times.

Summer Shelton received the Piaget Producers Award. This award honors emerging producers who, event with highly limited resources, demonstrate the incredible creativity, tenacity and vision needed to produce quality, independent films. The yearly award, in its 21st year, includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded from Piaget for the 11th year. Finalists were Giulia Caruso & Ki Jin Kim and Ben Leclair.




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Matty Brown was awarded the Seattle Story Award. This award is for a filmmaker who exhibits innovation, diversity and uniqueness of vision still while having a history of transforming perspectives through rich stories. The award involes a $25,000 cash grant, from Visit Seattle, to produce a short film inspired by Seattle’s incredible independent spirit. This film premieres during the Spirit Awards broadcast. 

This year is the 33rd edition of the kudo fest that honors and celebrates the best of independent film. Nick Kroll and John Mulaney are back to co-host the show, with director Ava DuVernay as the Spirit Awards Honorary Chair. Winners for the categories will be announced at the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards dated on Saturday March 3. The ceremony will broadcast live exclusively on IFC at 2:00 pm PT / 5:00 pm ET.