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LOS ANGELES (February 21, 2015) – Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards, Los Angeles Film Festival and Film Independent at LACMA, handed out top honors to Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Boyhood, Whiplash and Nightcrawler at this afternoon’s 30th Film Independent Spirit Awards. Still Alice, Dear White People, Ida, Land Ho! and CITIZENFOUR also received awards at the ceremony, which was held in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica. Inherent Vice received the Robert Altman Award and Foxcatcher received a Special Distinction Award. In addition to being the celebration that honors artist-driven films made with an economy of means by filmmakers whose films embody independence and originality, the Spirit Awards is the primary fundraiser for Film Independent’s year-round programs. The ceremony aired live today on IFC and a rebroadcast will air later this evening, please check your local listings for times. Clips from the ceremony are available on Yahoo and Film Independent’s YouTube channel after the show.

Over the past 30 years, the Film Independent Spirit Awards has made a name for itself as the premiere awards show for the independent film community. Artists who have received industry recognition first at the Spirit Awards include Joel and Ethan Coen, Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, Ashley Judd, Robert Rodriguez, David O. Russell, Edward Burns, Aaron Eckhart, Neil LaBute, Darren Aronofsky, Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman, Hilary Swank, Marc Forster, Todd Field, Christopher Nolan, Zach Braff, Amy Adams, Lena Dunham and many more.

This year’s major category winners were Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance); which won Best Feature, Best Male Lead and Best Cinematography, Boyhood; which won Best Director and Best Supporting Female, Nightcrawler; which won Best First Feature and Best Screenplay and Whiplash; which won Best Supporting Male and Best Editing; Still Alice, which won Best Female Lead;Dear White People, which won Best First Screenplay; Land Ho!, which won the John Cassavetes Award; Ida, which won Best International Film and CITIZENFOUR, which won Best Documentary.

The 8th annual Robert Altman Award was given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast. Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice received this award, along with casting director Cassandra Kulukundis and ensemble cast members Josh Brolin, Hong Chau, Martin Donovan, Jena Malone, Joanna Newsom, Joaquin Phoenix, Sasha Pieterse, Eric Roberts, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, Serena Scott Thomas, Benicio del Toro, Katherine Waterston, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon and Michael Kenneth Williams.

The Special Distinction Award, given to a film for its uniqueness of vision, honesty of direction and screenwriting, superb acting and overall filmmaking achievement, was given to Foxcatcher. The award was given to director/producer Bennett Miller, producers Anthony Bregman, Megan Ellison, Jon Kilik, writers E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman, actors Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum.

The 2015 Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation Fellowship which includes a cash grant of $10,000 was awarded to Christina Choe. This annual award is given to a filmmaker currently participating in a Film Independent Artist Development program with the mission of diversity in mind. Choe, a participant in the 2015 Directing Lab, is currently in active pre-production on her first narrative feature film, Nancy. 

The Film Independent Spirit Awards are sponsored by Premier Sponsors Piaget, The Lincoln Motor Company, Bank of America, Heineken, American Airlines and IFC. T-Mobile® is the Official Arrivals Show Sponsor, Sauza 901 Tequila is the Official Spirit and FIJI Water is the Official Water of the 2015 Spirit Awards. WireImage is the Official Photographer of Film Independent.

The production team for this year’s Spirit Awards includes executive producer and director Joel Gallen, producers Shawn Davis and Rick Austin.


The following is a complete list of the winners:


Best Feature: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Producers: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole


Best Director: Richard Linklater (IFC Films)


Best Screenplay: Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler (Open Road Films)


Best First Feature: Nightcrawler (Open Road Films)
Director: Dan Gilroy, Producers: Jennifer Fox, Tony Gilroy, Jake Gyllenhaal, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak


Best First Screenplay: Justin Simien, Dear White People (Roadside Attractions/ Lionsgate)


John Cassavetes Award (For best feature made under $500,000): Land Ho! (Sony Pictures Classics)
Writers/Directors: Aaron Katz, Martha Stephens, Producers: Christina Jennings, Mynette Louie, Sara Murphy

Best Supporting Female: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood (IFC Films)

Best Supporting Male: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics)

Best Female Lead: Julianne Moore, Still Alice (Sony Pictures Classics)

Best Male Lead: Michael Keaton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Robert Altman Award: Inherent Vice (Warner Bros.)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, Casting Director: Cassandra Kulukundis, Ensemble Cast: Josh Brolin, Hong Chau, Martin Donovan, Jena Malone, Joanna Newsom, Joaquin Phoenix, Sasha Pieterse, Eric Roberts, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short, Serena Scott Thomas, Benicio del Toro, Katherine Waterston, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Michael Kenneth Williams.


Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Best Editing: Tom Cross, Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics)

Best International Film: Ida (Poland – Music Box Films)

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski

Best Documentary: CITIZENFOUR (RADiUS-TWC / HBO Documentary Films / Participant Media)
Director: Laura Poitras; Producers: Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky

Special Distinction Award: Foxcatcher (Sony Pictures Classics)

Director/Producer: Bennett Miller, Producers: Anthony Bregman, Megan Ellison, Jon Kilik, Writers: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman, Actors: Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum

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Michael Sandoval

Michael created MUSE/MUSE TV after a career in professional sports and journalism. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He attended Don Bosco Technical Institute in which he studied Electronics and Computer Science and California State University, Fullerton in which he graduated with a degree from the College of Communication in Journalism. He is a big Foo Fighters fan, loves Star Wars and loves photography. Member of the Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society.

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