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“Moonlight”, “The Witch” Big Winners At 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards

“Moonlight” received six 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Photo courtesy A24

The 32nd Annual Film Independent Spirit Awardswas held in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica, CA Saturday, February 25, 2017. In addition to being the celebration that honors artist-driven films made with an economy of means by filmmakers whose films embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision, the Spirit Awards is the primary fundraiser for Film Independent’s year-round programs.  Clips from the ceremony will be available on Film Independent’s YouTube channel after the show.

Moonlight was the evening’s big winner, receiving top honors in the Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Editing categories.  The only other film to win multiple awards was the horror feature The Witch, which won Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay.

The 10th annual Robert Altman Award was given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight received this award, along with casting director Yesi Ramirez and ensemble cast members Mahershala Ali, Patrick Decile, Naomie Harris, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monáe, Jaden Piner, Trevante Rhodes and Ashton Sanders.

The 2017 Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation Fellowship, which includes a cash grant of $10,000, was awarded to Project Involve Fellow, Jomo Fray. This annual award is given to a filmmaker currently participating in a Film Independent Artist Development program with the mission of diversity in mind. Film Independent also awarded the inaugural Turner Fellowship, which includes a $10,000 cash grant, to Project Involve Fellow Kady Kamakate. This generous three-year commitment from Turner Broadcasting, Project Involve Lead Sponsor, will enable Film Independent to provide an even deeper level of support to talented filmmakers from under-represented communities. 

The following is a complete list of the winners: 

Best Feature:

Moonlight (A24)

Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Adele Romanski 

Best Director: 

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (A24) 

Best Screenplay:

Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney (Story By), Moonlight (A24) 

Best First Feature:

The Witch (A24)

Director: Robert Eggers

Producers: Daniel Bekerman, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Jodi Redmond, Rodrigo Teixeira 

Best First Screenplay:

Robert Eggers, The Witch (A24) 

John Cassavetes Award (For best feature made under $500,000):

Spa Night (Strand Releasing)

Writer/Director: Andrew Ahn

Producers: David Ariniello, Giulia Caruso, Ki Jin Kim, Kelly Thomas 

Best Supporting Female:

Molly Shannon, Other People (Vertical Entertainment) 

Best Supporting Male:

Ben Foster, Hell or High Water (CBS Films/Lionsgate) 

Best Female Lead:

Isabelle Huppert, Elle (Sony Pictures Classics)

Best Male Lead:

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea (Amazon Studios) 

Robert Altman Award:

Moonlight (A24)

Director: Barry Jenkins

Casting Director: Yesi Ramirez

Ensemble Cast: Mahershala Ali, Patrick Decile, Naomie Harris, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monáe, Jaden Piner, Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders 

Best Cinematography:

James Laxton, Moonlight (A24) 

Best Editing:

Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders, Moonlight (A24) 

Best International Film:

Toni Erdmann (Germany and Romania– Sony Pictures Classics)

Director: Maren Ade

Best Documentary:

O.J.: Made in America (ESPN Films)

Director/Producer: Ezra Edelman

Producers: Deirdre Fenton, Libby Geist, Nina Krstic, Erin Leyden, Tamara Rosenberg, Connor Schell, Caroline Waterlow