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Film Independent Spirit Awards announces filmmaker grant winners

Hosts Alessandro Nivola, Angela Bassett, and Emily Mortimer attend the 2014 Film Independent Filmmaker Grant And Spirit Awards Nominees Brunch at BOA Steakhouse on Jan. 11, 2014 in West Hollywood.
(Taylor Hill / Getty Images)

It might be a little early in the year to hear the phrase “…and the winners are…” But those words rung throughout BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood on Saturday -- a happy day for a handful of fimmakers.

Film Independent, which produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, held a brunch at which it announced the three winners of its Spirit Awards filmmaker grants.

For “creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce quality, independent films” amid challenging circumstances with limited resources, Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston received a $25,000 unrestricted grant for the Piaget Producers Award. The award is given to emerging producers. Jacob Jaffke, Andrea Roa and Frederick Thornton were finalists for the award.

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“Supporting emerging filmmakers is a cornerstone of our organization’s mission,” said Josh Welsh, Film Independent President. “These grants help ensure that their independent creativity can shine on.”

Jason Osder, who directed the documentary “Let the Fire Burn,” received the Truer Than Fiction Award, also a $25,000 unrestricted grant. The award honors an unrecognized emerging director of nonfiction. Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez (“Manakamana”) and Kalyanee Mam (“A River Changes Course”) were finalists.

The third award went to “a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition.” Shaka King, director of “Newlyweeds,” received the Someone to Watch Award, also a $25,000 unrestricted grant. Finalists in that category were Aaron Douglas Johnston (“My Sister’s Quinceañera”) and Madeleine Olnek for “The Foxy Merkins”).

The 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards will take place in Santa Monica on March 1 and will be broadcast on IFC.

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