2015 Film Independent Spirit Awards honors cinema

By: Abigail Richards

While most entertainment awards shows solely recognize blockbuster hits, the Film Independent Spirit Awards, a ceremony that celebrated its 30th birthday this year, aims to shine light on smaller productions as well as Hollywood movies. The recognition awards took place aturday, Feb. 21, and acknowledged the unique and exciting world of filmmaking.

Both established stars and up-and-comers earned recognition 
The award for Best Feature went to “Birdman,” a film that also earned Oscar nods. Richard Linklater earned the title of Best Director for his work on “Boyhood,” which was filmed over the course of 12 years. Dan Gilroy took home the prize for Best Screenplay for “Nightcrawler.” Gilroy also earned the award for Best First Feature for the movie, which was a crime thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

Justin Simien was honored with the prize for Best First Screenplay for the picture “Dear White People,” which told the story of a group of African American college students. The John Cassavetes Award, given to the best film made with a budget under $500,000, went to “Land Ho!” This movie, directed by Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens, was about brothers traveling through Iceland.

Julianne Moore was named Best Female Lead for her part in the film “Still Alice,” a role that also earned her an Oscar win as well. Michael Keaton was named Best Male Lead for his role in “Birdman.” Patricia Arquette got the title of Best Supporting Female for her work in “Boyhood,” while J.K. Simmons was recognized as the Best Supporting Male for his part in the film “Whiplash.”

The prize for Best Documentary went to the piece “CitizenFour,” which was written and directed by Laura Poitras. Polish film “Ida” earned the title of Best International Film. Best Editing went to Tom Cross for his work on “Whiplash,” while the prize for Best Cinematography went to Emmanuel Lubezki for “Birdman.”

Special awards 
A number of special recognition awards were handed out during the evening as well. The Piaget Producers Award acknowledges up-and-coming producers who, even with limited resources, were able to be creative and help bring impressive films to life. Chad Burris, Elisabeth Holm and Chris Olson earned this honor, which comes with a $25,000 grant. The Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award, which also includes a $25,000 grant, aims to recognize a talented filmmaker who has not yet been honored with an award. This year’s winning team was Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia for their movie, “H.”

The LensCrafters Truer Than Fiction Award, which shines the spotlight on a director specializing in nonfiction work who has not yet been recognized, was awarded to Dan Krauss for his movie, “The Kill Team.” The Robert Altman Award, which recognizes the director, casting director and ensemble cast of one movie, went to the team behind “Inherent Vice,” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. “Foxcatcher,” a film directed by Bennett Miller and starring Steve Carell, earned the night’s Special Distinction Award.