Film Independent Honors Emerging Talent At Spirit Awards Nominees Brunch

Film Independent announced the winners of its trio of Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grants today at the annual Spirit Awards Nominee Brunch at the BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood.

Mel Eslyn received the Piaget Producers Award which goes to emerging producers who overcome highly limited resources to demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget. Finalists were Darren Dean, Rebecca Green and Laura D. Smith.

Felix Thompson, director of King Jack, received the Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award which honors a worthy filmmaker with distinctive vision hasn’t yet attained wider recognition. The Someone to Watch Award also includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Kiehl’s. Finalists were Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck, directors of God Bless the Child, and Chloé Zhao director of Songs My Brothers Taught Me.

Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, director of Incorruptible, received the Truer Than Fiction Award that recognizes an emerging director of non-fiction features. This award also includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Finalists for the award were Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi, directors of Among the Believers, and Elizabeth Giamatti and Alex Sichel, directors of A Woman Like Me.

Uzo Aduba and Rami Malek co-hosted the event and handed out the honors.

The Independent Spirit Awards will be handed out Saturday, Feb. 7 at its tent on the beach in Santa Monica, which this time around will be staked at a new location north of the Santa Monica Pier. Producer Shawn Davis returns for his 14th show and Rick Austin returns for his second year as producer. Joel Gallen of Tenth Planet Productions returns for his second year as exec producer. The awards ceremony will be broadcast live exclusively on IFC at 2PM PT / 5PM ET.