Spirit Awards Gives $75,000 in Grants at Nominees Brunch

Mel Eslyn, Felix Thompson and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi take prizes from Film Independent committees

Mel Eslyn, Felix Thompson and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi each received $25,000 grants from the Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, winning the Spirit Awards’ annual Filmmaker Grants.

The Piaget Producers Award goes to an emerging producer, the Truer Than Fiction Award goes to a non-fiction director or directors and the Someone to Watch Award recognizes a filmmaker “of singular vision” who has “not yet received appropriate recognition.” Each award carries an unrestricted cash grant.

Held at West Hollywood’s Boa Steakhouse, notable guests included nominees Cate Blanchett, Rooney MaraJason Segel, Todd Haynes, Brie Larson, Michael Shannon and  “Beasts of No Nation”‘s Abraham Attah.

The awards were selected by Film Independent committees and handed out at the annual Spirit Awards Nominees Brunch, which took place at the BOA Steakhouse and was hosted by two TV personalities, Uzo Aduba from “Orange Is the New Black” and Rami Malek from “Mr. Robot.”

The winners:

Piaget Producers Award
Darren Dean
Mel Eslyn* WINNER
Rebecca Green and Laura D. Smith

Truer Than Fiction Award
Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi, directors of “Among the Believers”
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, director of “Incorruptible” *WINNER
Elizabeth Giamatti and Alex Sichel, directors of “A Woman Like Me”

Someone to Watch Award
Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck, directors of “God Bless the Child”
Felix Thompson, director of “King Jack” * WINNER
Chloe Zhao, director of “Songs My Brothers Taught Me”

Previous Spirit Award Filmmaker Grant winners include Jeff Malmberg (“Marwencol”), Mike Ott (“Littlerock”), Shaka King (“Newlyweds”) and Ramin Bahrani (“Chop Shop”).

The Spirit Awards will take place on Saturday, Feb. 27 and will be broadcast live on IFC.

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