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Spirit Awards Accepting Submissions

Film Independent will take submissions until October 11; Foreign Film category renamed International Film

The entry process is now open for the 2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards, Film Independent announced on Thursday.

The non-profit indie-film organization is accepting submissions for its awards until Tuesday, October 11, with an early deadline (which carries a lower fee) of Tuesday, September 13.

Submissions must include an entry form with film synopsis, 25 DVDs, a press kit, and an entry fee that ranges from $350 to $450.  Nominations are made by three separate committees.

Spirit Awards are given in 14 different categories, including Best Feature, Best First Feature, and the John Cassavetes Award for a feature made for less than $500,000. In addition, FIND awards three sponsored Filmmaker Grants.

Applications and information can be found at http://www.spiritawards.com.

One change in this year's categories: the award for Best Foreign Film has been renamed Best International Film, though nothing else about award has changed. The new category name will presumably ease some confusion about the award, which is open to any film from outside the United States, regardless of whether it is in a foreign language or not.

(Last year's winner was the British-made "The King's Speech.")

To be eligible for the other Spirit Awards, a film must be an American production with a production budget of less than $20 million.

As opposed to the Oscars, where only films that have received theatrical runs in Los Angeles County are eligible, the Spirit Awards allows films to qualify with screenings at six film festivals: the Los Angeles Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, Sundance, Telluride, Toronto and New Directors/New Films.

The eligibility rule can lead to some curious situations, as when "The Hurt Locker" was submitted to the Spirit Awards in 2008, the year it first played the Toronto Film Festival; it received a nomination for Jeremy Renner's lead performance, meaning that in 2009 – when it had its theatrical release, qualified for the Oscars and won Best Picture – it was no longer eligible for the Spirits.