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Nominees Announced for 2016 Spirit Awards

Nominees for Best Feature include ‘Anomalisa,’ ‘Beasts of No Nation,’ ‘Carol,’ ‘Spotlight’ and ‘Tangerine.’

LOS ANGELES -- Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards, the LA Film Festival and Film Independent at LACMA, have announced nominations for the 2016 Spirit Awards. Film Independent President Josh Welsh presided over the press conference held Tuesday morning at W Hollywood, with actors John Boyega and Elizabeth Olsen presenting the nominations. Nominees for Best Feature included Anomalisa, Beasts of No Nation, Carol, Spotlight and Tangerine.

“This year’s nominees are a testament to the strength, vitality and diversity of independent, artist-driven filmmaking,” said Film Independent President Josh Welsh. “It’s an astonishingly strong group of films and performances this year and we look forward to celebrating them all at the Spirit Awards.”

Spotlight 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.

Spotlight is a remarkable film that excels on every level, but the Nominating Committee thought it was especially deserving of the Robert Altman Award,” said Welsh. “The film is beautifully cast with every member of the ensemble working together to tell the story of the Boston Globe investigating allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church.”

Winners will be announced at the Spirit Awards on Saturday, February 27, 2016. The awards ceremony will be held as a daytime luncheon in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica, in a new location this year just north of the Santa Monica Pier. The show will broadcast live exclusively on IFC at 2:00 pm PT/ 5:00 pm ET.

Winners of the Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grants will be highlighted during the awards ceremony and announced at the Film Independent Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grants and Nominee Brunch on Saturday, January 9, 2016, at BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood.

The Spirit Awards Nominating Committees selected nominees from 362 submissions this year and applied the following guidelines in determining the nominations: uniqueness of vision, original and provocative subject matter, economy of means (with particular attention paid to total production cost and individual compensation) and percentage of financing from independent sources. 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.

In addition to celebrating the broad spectrum of independent filmmaking, the Spirit Awards is also the primary fundraiser for Film Independent’s year-round programs, which cultivate the careers of emerging filmmakers and promote diversity in the industry. To learn more about table sales, attendance and donations please contact (link sends e-mail) or 310.432.1253.

For more information on submission guidelines, voting, media and publicist credentials, and the history of the Spirit Awards, please visit


(Award given to the Producer. Executive Producers are not awarded.)

  • Anomalisa
    Producers: Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman, Dino Stamatopoulos, Rosa Tran
  • Beasts of No Nation
    Producers: Daniel Crown, Idris Elba, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Amy Kaufman, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Riva Marker
  • Carol
    Producers: Elizabeth Karlsen, Christine Vachon, Stephen Woolley
  • Spotlight
    Producers: Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Michael Sugar
  • Tangerine
    Producers: Sean Baker, Karrie Cox, Marcus Cox, Darren Dean, Shih-Ching Tsou

BEST FIRST FEATURE - Award given to the director and producer.

  • The Diary of a Teenage Girl
    Director: Marielle Heller
    Producers: Miranda Bailey, Anne Carey, Bert Hamelinck, Madeline Samit
  • James White
    Director: Josh Mond
    Producers: Max Born, Antonio Campos, Sean Durkin, Melody Roscher, Eric Schultz
  • Manos Sucias
    Director: Josef Kubota Wladyka
    Producers: Elena Greenlee, Márcia Nunes
  • Mediterranea
    Director: Jonas Carpignano
    Producers: Jason Michael Berman, Chris Columbus, Jon Coplon, Christoph Daniel, Andrew Kortschak, John Lesher, Ryan Lough, Justin Nappi, Alain Peyrollaz, Gwyn Sannia, Marc Schmidheiny, Victor Shapiro, Ryan Zacarias
  • Songs My Brothers Taught Me
    Director/Producer: Chloé Zhao
    Producers: Mollye Asher, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Angela C. Lee, Forest Whitaker

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.

  • Advantageous
    Writer/Director/Producer: Jennifer Phang
    Writer/Producer: Jacqueline Kim
    Producers: Robert Chang, Ken Jeong, Moon Molson, Theresa Navarro
  • Christmas, Again
    Writer/Director/Producer: Charles Poekel
  • Heaven Knows What
    Directors: Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie
    Writers: Ronald Bronstein, Josh Safdie
    Producers: Oscar Boyson, Sebastian Bear McClard
  • Krisha
    Writer/Director/Producer: Trey Edward Shults
    Producers: Justin R. Chan, Chase Joliet, Wilson Smith
  • Out of My Hand
    Writer/Director: Takeshi Fukunaga
    Writer/Producer: Donari Braxton
    Producer: Mike Fox


  • Sean Baker
  • Cary Joji Fukunaga
    Beasts of No Nation
  • Todd Haynes
  • Duke Johnson & Charlie Kaufman
  • Tom McCarthy
  • David Robert Mitchell
    It Follows


  • Charlie Kaufman
  • Donald Margulies
    The End of the Tour
  • Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer
  • Phyllis Nagy
  • S. Craig Zahler
    Bone Tomahawk


  • Jesse Andrews
    Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  • Jonas Carpignano
  • Emma Donoghue
  • Marielle Heller
    The Diary of a Teenage Girl
  • John Magary, Story by Russell Harbaugh and Myna Joseph
    The Mend


  • Cary Joji Fukunaga
    Beasts of No Nation
  • Michael Gioulakis
    It Follows
  • Ed Lachman
  • Reed Morano
  • Joshua James Richards
    Songs My Brothers Taught Me


  • Ronald Bronstein and Benny Safdie
    Heaven Knows What
  • Tom McArdle
  • Nathan Nugent
  • Julio C. Perez IV
    It Follows
  • Kristan Sprague
    Manos Sucias


  • Cate Blanchett
  • Brie Larson
  • Rooney Mara
  • Bel Powley
    The Diary of a Teenage Girl
  • Kitana Kiki Rodriguez


  • Christopher Abbott
    James White
  • Abraham Attah
    Beasts of No Nation
  • Ben Mendelsohn
    Mississippi Grind
  • Jason Segel
    The End of the Tour
  • Koudous Seihon


  • Robin Bartlett
  • Marin Ireland
    Glass Chin
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh
  • Cynthia Nixon
    James White
  • Mya Taylor


  • Kevin Corrigan
  • Paul Dano
    Love & Mercy
  • Idris Elba
    Beasts of No Nation
  • Richard Jenkins
    Bone Tomahawk
  • Michael Shannon
    99 Homes

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

  • Spotlight
    Director: Tom McCarthy
    Casting Directors: Kerry Barden and Paul Schnee
    Ensemble Cast: Billy Crudup, Paul Guilfoyle, Neal Huff, Brian d’Arcy James, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Jamey Sheridan, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci

BEST DOCUMENTARY - Award given to the director and producer.

  • (T)ERROR
    Directors/Producers: Lyric R. Cabral & David Felix Sutcliffe
    Producer: Christopher St. John
  • Best of Enemies
    Directors/Producers: Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville
  • Heart of a Dog
    Director/Producer: Laurie Anderson
    Producer: Dan Janvey
  • The Look of Silence
    Director:Joshua Oppenheimer
    Producer: Signe Byrge Sørensen
  • Meru
    Directors/Producers: Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
    Producer: Shannon Ethridge
  • The Russian Woodpecker
    Director/Producer: Chad Gracia
    Producers: Ram Devineni, Mike Lerner

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM - Award given to the director.

  • Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia)
    Director: Ciro Guerra
  • Girlhood (France)
    Director: Céline Sciamma
  • Mustang (France, Turkey)
    Director: Deniz Gamze Ergüven
  • A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Sweden)
    Director: Roy Andersson
  • Son of Saul (Hungary)
    Director: László Nemes

19th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – The 19th annual Producers Award, sponsored by Piaget, 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 funded by Piaget.

  • Darren Dean
  • Mel Eslyn
  • Rebecca Green and Laura D. Smith

22nd ANNUAL KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 22nd annual Someone to Watch Award, sponsored by Kiehl’s Since 1851, recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl’s Since 1851.

  • God Bless the Child
    Directors: Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck
  • King Jack
    Director: Felix Thompson
  • Songs My Brothers Taught Me
    Director: Chloé Zhao

21st TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 21st 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.

  • Among the Believers
    Directors: Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi
  • Incorruptible
    Director: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
  • A Woman Like Me
    Directors: Elizabeth Giamatti and Alex Sichel

Source: Film Independent Spirit Awards

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Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.