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HomeAwardsPrecious Moments at the 25th Film Independent Spirit Awards

Precious Moments at the 25th Film Independent Spirit Awards

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At an event celebrating films that embody independence and originality, it was fitting that Lionsgate‘s Precious, the brutally powerful film, based on a book deemed “unadaptable” by the mainstream entertainment industry, garnered top honors for the night.  Producers Lee Daniels, Gary Magness and Sarah Siegal-Magness took home the Best Picture Award, with Daniels also being honored as Best Director.  For writing the film that he deemed, “a life-changing opportunity'” Screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher won Best First Screenplay.  Top acting honors for Best Female Lead went to breakout actress Gabourey Sidibe, while Sidibe’s dramatic foil in the film, Mo’Nique, took Best Supporting Female.

For help embodying the role of Mary Jones, the abused and abusive mother of the title character, Mo’Nique credited the “Special Wardrobe” Mo’Nique and Sidibe “found” in the closet of executive producer, Lisa Cortés. “It allowed Mary Jones to come to life even more,” said Mo’Nique.  “If you put those things on – that cat suit, the wigs and big heavy clothes – that’s how you begin to feel.”

Crazy Heart Best Actor winner, Jeff Bridges, in accepting his award acknowledged distributor Fox Searchlight. “I’ve been at this a pretty long time and I have never run into a distributor that has given so much support for a project as they have.” In fretting about who he may have forgotten to thank, Bridges added, “One of the wonderful things about making movies is, it is such a collaborative art form.  There are so many people responsible for this award – the makeup person, the other actors… they are all part of this.”  The film, produced by T. Bone Burnett, Judy Cairo, Rob Carliner and director Scott Cooper, also garnered the prestigious award for Best First Feature.

Craft honors at the ceremony went to Focus Features’ A Serious Man. Roger Deakins, who has regularly collaborated with the Coen brothers, received The Best Cinematography Award.  For this carefully crafted film, Deakins perfectly captured the 1960’s world created by the detailed production, costume, hair and makeup designs.  Also recognized were the film’s casting directors, Ellen Chenoweth and Rachel Tanner – along with directors Joel Coen and Ethan Coen and ensemble cast members, Richard Kind, Sari Lennick, Jessica McManus, Fred Melamed, Michael Stuhlbarg and Aaron Wolff ­­. They received the third annual Robert Altman Award presented for casting and ensemble acting.  When questioned about whether any of the cast members kept their vintage costumes, Lennick joked, “Truth be told, the sixties were not kind to human sweat. That must have been a very stinky time. I couldn’t wait to remove my polyester.”

Fox Searchlight’s (500) Days of Summer scribes Scott Neustadler and Michael H. Weber won Best Screenplay.  Woody Harrelson took Best Supporting Actor honors for his dynamic role in Oscilloscope Laboratories’ The Messenger.

Sony Picture Classics‘ An Education, by dogma-style director Lone Sherfig, garnered Best Foreign Film honors.  Writer/Director/Producer Lynn Shelton returned for a Spirit Award a second year in a row, this time receiving the John Cassavetes Award (best feature under $500,000) for Magnolia Picture’s Humpday. Best Documentary was awarded to Abramaorama Films’ Anvil!  The Story of Anvil, directed by Sacha Gervasi.

In support of the independent film community, the Spirit Awards has three awards that honor emerging filmmakers with $25,000 unrestricted grants.  Kyle Patrick Alvarez, director of Easier with Practice, received the 17th annual Acura Someone to Watch Award honoring a talented filmmaker of singular vision.  Bill Ross and Turner Ross, directors of 45365, received the 16th annual Chaz and Roger Ebert Truer than Fiction Award for non-fiction feature directors. Karin Chen, producer of The Exploding Girl and Santa Mesa, received the 14th annual Piaget Producers Award for producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision to produce quality independent films.

The 2010 ELLE/Garnier Directing Fellowship, with a $10,000 production grant, went to Film Independent Fellow Jennifer Arnold (2005 Directors Lab) who won with her film, A Small Act, scheduled to air this summer on HBO.

This year’s milestone ceremony moved from the usual Saturday-before-the-Oscars daytime event on the beach in Santa Monica to a Friday night gala held on March 5 at L.A. Live’s event deck in downtown Los Angeles. Comedian Eddie Izzard was Master of Ceremonies and Ben Stiller served as Honorary Chair.  The star-studded evening included celebrity presenters and guests Pierce Brosnan, Robert Duvall, Jody Foster, Ethan Hawke, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, David Spade and John Waters, among others.  The event was produced by Film Independent, a non-profit arts organization dedicated to championing independent film and supporting the unique visions of a community of diverse and innovative artists.

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