David Oyelowo Will Serve As 2017 Spirit Awards Honorary Chair; Sterling K. Brown and Issa Rae To Co-Host Nominee Brunch, Announce Grant Winners

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Film Independent President Josh Welsh announced that David Oyelowo (Queen of Katwe, A United Kingdom) will be the 2017 Spirit Awards Honorary Chair. Oyelowo was nominated for Best Male Lead for his work in Selma (2015) and Best Supporting Male for Middle of Nowhere (2013).

Past Honorary Chairs include Jessica Chastain, Kerry Washington, Benicio Del Toro, Angela Bassett, Salma Hayek, Jodie Foster, Danny Glover, Ang Lee and Martin Scorsese.

"From Middle of Nowhere to Nightingale, and from Selma to Queen of Katwe, David Oyelowo has consistently shown himself to be a fearless actor of remarkable range," said Welsh. "As a two-time Spirit Award nominee, he is a fantastic choice to be our Spirit Awards Honorary Chair."

Also announced today, Emmy Award winning Sterling K. Brown (This is Us, The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) and writer, producer, actress Issa Rae (Insecure, Awkward Black Girl) will co-host the Film Independent Spirit Awards Filmmaker Grant & Nominee Brunch on Saturday, January 7 at BOA restaurant in West Hollywood where they will announce the Spirit Awards Grant Winners for 2017.

"Sterling K. Brown and Issa Rae are two of the most captivating and talented actors working today," said Welsh, "and we’re so happy to have them host our Spirit Awards Brunch in January."

Previously announced, the Nominees for the Spirit Awards Grants are:

20th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD – The 20th 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.

Lisa Kjerulff

Jordana Mollick

Melody C. Roscher & Craig Shilowich

23rd ANNUAL KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD – The 23rd 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.

Andrew Ahn 

Director of Spa Night

Claire Carré

Director of Embers    

Anna Rose Holmer

Director of The Fits

Ingrid Jungermann

Director of Women Who Kill

22nd ANNUAL TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD – The 22nd 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.

Kristi Jacobson

Director of Solitary     

Sara Jordenö

Director of Kiki

Nanfu Wang

Director of Hooligan Sparrow

The 32nd annual Spirit Awards ceremony will take place on the beach in Santa Monica on Saturday, February 25 with the premiere broadcast airing live exclusively on IFC at 2:00 pm PT / 5:00 pm ET. The Awards are the primary fundraiser for Film Independent’s year-round programs, which cultivate the careers of emerging filmmakers and promote diversity in the industry.

Want to vote?

Film Independent Members vote to determine the winners at the Spirit Awards. Members receive screeners of select nominated films and can attend free screenings of all nominated films in Los Angeles and New York. Members must be current by December 6, 2016 to receive full voting benefits.

Join today at http://www.filmindependent.org/spirit-awards/vote/


Now in its 32nd year, the Film Independent Spirit Awards is an annual celebration honoring artist-driven films made with an economy of means by filmmakers whose films embody independence and originality. The Spirit Awards recognizes the achievements of American independent filmmakers and promotes the finest independent films of the year to a wider audience.

The Film Independent Spirit Awards are sponsored by Premier Sponsors Piaget, American Airlines, Jeep brand, IFC, and Principal Sponsor AT&T, as well as Breyers Gelato Indulgences. FIJI Water is the Official Water. WireImage is the Official Photographer. 


Film Independent is the non-profit arts organization that champions creative independence in visual storytelling and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff, and constituents, is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional, or a film lover.

Film Independent produces the Spirit Awards, the annual celebration honoring artist-driven films and recognizing the finest achievements of American independent filmmakers. Film Independent also produces the LA Film Festival, showcasing the best of American and international cinema and Film Independent at LACMA, a year-round, weekly program that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.  

With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent’s Artist Development program offers free Labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry.

About IFC

IFC is the home of offbeat, unexpected comedies.  Original series Portlandia, Documentary Now!, Stan Against Evil and the upcoming Brockmire (April 2017) air alongside fan-favorite movies and comedic cult TV shows.  IFC is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc., and available across multiple platforms.  IFC is Always On Slightly Off.


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