Film Independent Spirit Awards Gives Out $150,000 in 2018 Filmmaker Grants

Justin Chon, director of Sundance entry “Gook,” among winners

Last Updated: January 6, 2018 @ 2:31 PM

Emerging cinematic voices were awarded $150,000 by Film Independent on Saturday, with actors John Cho and Alia Shawkat presenting the annual grants in Los Angeles.

Nominees for four of the grant categories were announced at the same time as the rest of the Spirit Award nominations on Nov. 21, but the grant winners received their awards at the Nominees Brunch rather than the main show on March 3.

One new grant was added this year: The Bonnie Award. Sponsored by American Airlines, it is named after Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo, who in 1973 became the first female pilot of a major U.S. airline. Carrying a prize of $50,000, it is the most lucrative of the grants and was designed to go to “a mid-career female director.”

The nominees:

BONNIE AWARD ($50,000 unrestricted grant to a mid-career female director):
So Yong Kim
Lynn Shelton
WINNER: Chloé Zhao

JEEP TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD ($25,000 unrestricted grant to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant recognition)
Shevaun Mizrahi, “Distant Constellation”
WINNER: Jonathan Olshefski, “Quest”
Jeff Unay, “The Cage Fighter”

KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD ($25,000 unrestricted grant to a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition):
Amman Abbasi, “Dayveon”
WINNER: Justin Chon, “Gook”
Kevin Phillips, “Super Dark Times”

PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – ($25,000 unrestricted grant to emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films):
Giulia Caruso & Ki Jin Kim
Ben LeClair
WINNER: Summer Shelton

SEATTLE STORY AWARD ($25,000 to fund a short film that will debut on the Spirit Awards broadcast):
Matty Brown