TV finally getting its due at Spirit Awards with addition of 5 new prizes

The Independent Spirit Awards statue.
(Patrick T. Fallon / For the Times)

Going into its 36th year, the Film Independent Spirit Awards is getting into the TV business — by finally honoring small-screen work.

The awards show, which celebrates the best in indie cinema just before the annual Academy Awards, will add television categories and prizes to its 2021 program, which is set to take place on April 24, the organization announced Tuesday.

The dramatic expansion includes five new categories that recognize scripted series, nonscripted or documentary series and acting categories for male, female and ensemble performances, bringing the overall number of prizes in the ceremony to 20. That means its format could mirror that of the higher-profile Golden Globes and SAG Awards, which also mingle film and television stars in their programs.


From ‘Uncut Gems’ to ‘The Farewell,’ here’s the complete list of winners of Film Independent’s Spirit awards.

Feb. 8, 2020

“The independent, diverse creators we’ve supported for decades now straddle the feature and episodic worlds,” said Film Independent board chair Mary Sweeney in a statement. “Our mission supports and celebrates visual storytellers wherever they practice their craft. The addition of TV Spirit Awards recognizes this expansion by celebrating diverse independent, creative voices across platforms.”

The 2021 show will be returning to the organization’s longtime broadcast partner, IFC, which has broadcast the show since 1994.

“2020 has been a year of endless change and chaos, so it’s wonderful to be back with our friends at IFC,” said Film Independent president Josh Welsh. “As tough as this year has been, there’s so much great filmmaking and yes, television, that has sustained us throughout the pandemic. We look forward to celebrating that work at the Spirit Awards in April.”

Film Independent also said it has incorporated television and episodic work in its year-round programs, including education, artist development and its screening program, Film Independent Presents. Its organizers chose to add the TV categories because “opportunities have continued to grow for filmmakers to create bold, original work in this space.”

The Spirit Awards serve as Film Independent’s largest annual fundraiser, supporting the work the nonprofit arts organization does year-round. Its off-the-cuff ceremony traditionally takes place a day before the Oscars, though the winners in the two ceremonies tend to vary.