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Independent Spirit Award Nominees Announced

The nominees for the 36th Annual Independent Spirit Awards were announced this morning by Olivia Wilde, Barry Jenkins and Laverne Cox. Honoring the best the year had to offer in independent film, the awards will be held on Thursday, April 22 at 10pm ET on IFC as well as on AMC+.

Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always leads this year’s nominations with 7. Minari earned high marks with 6 nominations, with Nomadland and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom close behind with 5 nominations each. Netflix was the most nominated studio picking up 16 nominations, followed by A24 with 10 nominations and Focus Features with nine.

Here is the official press release:


Broadcast Exclusively on IFC and AMC+

Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 10:00 pm ET

LOS ANGELES (January 26, 2021) – This morning, Film Independent announced nominations for the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Not just another pretty face on the awards circuit, the Spirit Awards are the primary fundraiser for the nonprofit Film Independent’s year-round slate of programs, which cultivate the careers of emerging filmmakers and promote diversity and inclusion in the industry. Film Independent President Josh Welsh introduced the prerecorded video announcements, which featured guest presenters Laverne Cox (Disclosure, Promising Young Woman) and Spirit Award winners Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk, Moonlight, The Underground Railroad) and Olivia Wilde (Booksmart, Don’t Worry Darling.) Watch here: (case sensitive)

Best Feature nominees included First Cow, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Minari, Never Rarely Sometimes Always and Nomadland. Also announced—for the first time in Spirit Awards history—were the nominees of five new TV awards: Best New Scripted Series, Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series, Best Male Performance in a New Scripted Series, Best Female Performance in a New Scripted Series and Best Ensemble Cast in a New Scripted Series.

One Night in Miami 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.

“2020 was Hell on earth, but one glorious lifeline these past months has been the ability to watch so many great films and shows,” said Film Independent President Josh Welsh. “In an unbelievably challenging year, this year’s Spirit Award nominees inspired us, connected us, and have been a source of urgently needed light in the darkness. Even though we’re still stuck at home, let’s come together to celebrate this great work!”

Winners, who are selected by Film Independent Members, will be announced at the Spirit Awards on Thursday, April 22, 2021. In a one-time break from tradition, the awards ceremony will move from its usual spot as a live daytime event to primetime on Thursday, broadcast live exclusively on IFC at 10pm ET / 7pm PT.

This year, the Spirit Awards Nominating Committees selected nominees from over 22 different countries, applying the following guidelines in determining nominees: uniqueness of vision, original and provocative subject matter, 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.

Of all nominated writers and directors, 57% are women and 48% are BIPOC. Of all nominated actors, 69% are BIPOC. And of all 2021 nominees, 42% are women and 37% are BIPOC. This year, the Spirit Awards nominating committees are 67% women and 63% BIPOC.

The Film Independent Spirit Awards are sponsored by Premier Sponsor IFC. FIJI Water is the Official Water. Getty Images is the Official Photographer. We are also honored to be partnering with the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) SeeHer, the leading global movement for gender equality in media, advertising, marketing and entertainment and AMC Networks to further celebrate and act as a catalyst for accurate and meaningful representation in storytelling.

Want to vote?

As always, winners are selected by Members of Film Independent. Members must be current by February 11 to receive full voting benefits, including access to nominee screeners. To join Film Independent and vote on the Spirit Awards, please visit

To learn more about supporting Film Independent’s mission and programs, contact Jennifer Murby at For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Stephanie Terifay at

To learn more about the Spirit Awards eligibility rules and regulations please visit



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

First Cow

Producers: Neil Kopp, Vincent Savino, Anish Savjani

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Producers: Todd Black, Denzel Washington, Dany Wolf


Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Producers: Sara Murphy, Adele Romanski


Producers: Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Chloé Zhao

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to director and producer)

I Carry You With Me

Director/Producer: Heidi Ewing

Producers: Edher Campos, Mynette Louie, Gabriela Maire

The Forty-Year-Old Version

Director/Producer: Radha Blank

Producers: Inuka Bacote-Capiga, Jordan Fudge, Rishi Rajani, Jennifer Semler, Lena Waithe

Miss Juneteenth

Director: Channing Godfrey Peoples

Producers: Toby Halbrooks, Tim Headington, Jeanie Igoe, James M. Johnston, Theresa Steele Page, Neil Creque Williams

Nine Days

Director: Edson Oda

Producers: Jason Michael Berman, Mette-Marie Kongsved, Matthew Linder, Laura Tunstall, Datari Turner

Sound of Metal

Director: Darius Marder

Producers: Bill Benz, Kathy Benz, Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche

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

The Killing of Two Lovers

Writer/Director/Producer: Robert Machoian

Producers: Scott Christopherson, Clayne Crawford

La Leyenda Negra

Writer/Director: Patricia Vidal Delgado

Producers: Alicia Herder, Marcel Perez

Lingua Franca

Writer/Director/Producer: Isabel Sandoval

Producers: Darlene Catly Malimas, Jhett Tolentino, Carlo Velayo


Writer/Director: Merawi Gerima

Saint Frances

Director/Producer: Alex Thompson

Writer: Kelly O’Sullivan

Producers: James Choi, Pierce Cravens, Ian Keiser, Eddie Linker, Raphael Nash, Roger Welp


Lee Isaac Chung


Emerald Fennell

Promising Young Woman

Eliza Hittman

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Kelly Reichardt

First Cow

Chloé Zhao



Lee Isaac Chung


Emerald Fennell

Promising Young Woman

Eliza Hittman

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Mike Makowsky

Bad Education

Alice Wu

The Half of It


 Kitty Green

The Assistant

Noah Hutton


Channing Godfrey Peoples

Miss Juneteenth

Andy Siara

Palm Springs

James Sweeney

Straight Up


Jay Keitel

She Dies Tomorrow

Shabier Kirchner


Michael Latham

The Assistant

Hélène Louvart

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Joshua James Richards



Andy Canny

The Invisible Man

Scott Cummings

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Merawi Gerima


Enat Sidi

I Carry You With Me

Chloé Zhao



Nicole Beharie

Miss Juneteenth

Viola Davis

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Sidney Flanigan

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Julia Garner

The Assistant

Frances McDormand


Carey Mulligan

Promising Young Woman


 Riz Ahmed

Sound of Metal

Chadwick Boseman

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Adarsh Gourav

The White Tiger

Rob Morgan


Steven Yeun



Alexis Chikaeze

Miss Juneteenth

Yeri Han


Valerie Mahaffey

French Exit

Talia Ryder

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Yuh-jung Youn



Colman Domingo

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Orion Lee

First Cow

Paul Raci

Sound of Metal

Glynn Turman

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Benedict Wong

Nine Days

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

One Night in Miami…

Director: Regina King

Casting Directors: Kimberly R. Hardin

Ensemble Cast: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr.

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)


Director/Producer: Alexander Nanau

Producers: Hanka Kastelicová, Bernard Michaux, Bianca Oana

Crip Camp

Directors/Producers: Jim LeBrecht, Nicole Newnham

Producer: Sara Bolder

Dick Johnson is Dead

Director/Producer: Kirsten Johnson

Producers: Katy Chevigny, Marilyn Ness

The Mole Agent

Director: Maite Alberdi

Producer: Marcela Santibáñez


Director/Producer: Garrett Bradley

Producers: Lauren Domino, Kellen Quinn

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)



Directors: Juliano Dornelles, Kleber Mendonça Filho

The Disciple


Director: Chaitanya Tamhane

Night of the Kings

Ivory Coast

Director: Philippe Lacôte

Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time


Director: Lili Horvát

Quo Vadis, Aida?

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Director: Jasmila Žbanić

PRODUCERS AWARD – The Producers Award, now in its 24th year, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality independent films.

Kara Durrett

Lucas Joaquin

Gerry Kim

SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The Someone to Watch Award, now in its 27th year,  recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition.

David Midell

Director of The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain

Ekwa Msangi

Director of Farewell Amor

Annie Silverstein

Director of Bull

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The Truer Than Fiction Award, now in its 26th year, is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition.

Cecilia Aldarondo

Director of Landfall

Elegance Bratton

Director of Pier Kids

Elizabeth Lo

Director of Stray


BEST NEW NON-SCRIPTED OR DOCUMENTARY SERIES (Award given to the Creator, Executive Producer, Co-Executive Producer)

Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children

Executive Producers: Jeff Dupre, Joshua Bennett, Sam Pollard, Maro Chermayeff, John Legend, Mike Jackson, Ty Stiklorius

City So Real

Produced by: Zak Piper, Steve James

Executive Producers: Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Alex Kotlowitz, Gordon Quinn, Betsy Steinberg, Jolene Pinder

Immigration Nation

Executive Producers: Christina Clusiau, Shaul Schwarz, Dan Cogan, Jenny Raskin, Brandon Hill, Christian Thompson

Co-Executive Producers: Andrey Alistratov, Jay Arthur Sterrenberg, Lauren Haber

Love Fraud

Executive Producers: Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing, Amy Goodman Kass, Vinnie Malhotra, Jihan Robinson, Michael Bloom, Maria Zuckerman

We’re Here

Creators/Executive Producers: Stephen Warren, Johnnie Ingram

Executive Producers: Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Peter LoGreco

Co-Executive Producers: Erin Haglund, Sabrina Mar

BEST NEW SCRIPTED SERIES (Award given to the Creator, Executive Producer, Co-Executive Producer)

I May Destroy You

Creator/Executive Producer: Michaela Coel

Executive Producers: Phil Clarke, Roberto Troni

Little America

Executive Producers: Lee Eisenberg, Joshuah Bearman, Joshua Davis, Arthur Spector, Alan Yang, Siân Heder, Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon

Small Axe

Executive Producers: Tracey Scoffield, David Tanner, Steve McQueen

A Teacher

Creator/Executive Producer: Hanna Fidell

Executive Producers: Michael Costigan, Kate Mara, Louise Shore, Jason Bateman, Danny Brocklehurst

Co-Executive Producer: Daniel Pipski


Creator/Executive Producer: Anna Winger

Creator: Alexa Karolinski

Executive Producer: Henning Kamm


Elle Fanning

The Great

Shira Haas


Abby McEnany

Work in Progress

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan

Never Have I Ever

Jordan Kristine Seamón

We Are Who We Are



Little America

Adam Ali

Little America

Nicco Annan


Amit Rahav


Harold Torres

Zero, Zero, Zero


I May Destroy You

Ensemble Cast: Michaela Coel, Paapa Essiedu, Wruche Opia,

Stephen Wight


Film Independent is the nonprofit arts organization that champions creative independence in visual storytelling and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff and constituents are comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a Member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional or a film lover.

In addition to producing the Spirit Awards, Film Independent produces Film Independent Presents, a year-round screening series for its members that offers unique cinematic experiences for the worldwide creative community as well as film lovers in the general public. Through annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry.

Film Independent’s Artist Development program offers free labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry.

The winners of the Film Independent Spirit Awards are voted upon by Film Independent Members. Membership is open to the public. For more information or to become a Member, visit


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