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in Filmmaking
on Jan 14, 2012

Congratulations to Without writer/director Mark Jackson (one of Filmmaker‘s 2012 25 New Faces), producer Sophia Lin (Take Shelter), director Heather Courtney (Where Soldiers Come From) and directors Benjamin Murray and Alysa Nahmias (Unfinished Spaces) for winning Spirit Awards today at the event’s nominee brunch in Los Angeles. Jackson, Lin and Courtney received unrestricted grants of $25,000 from, respectively, Audi, Nokia and Piaget, while Murray and Nahmias received a $40,000 marketing and distribution grant that will go towards the release of their feature. (Note: I served on the jury for the Jameson grant.)

The complete press release follows.

LOS ANGELES (January 14, 2012) – Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, announced the winners of its four Spirit Awards filmmaker grants today at its annual Spirit Awards Nominee Brunch held at BOA Steakhouse in West Hollywood. Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson hosted the casual event and handed out the honors.

Winners for the remaining categories will be revealed at the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards in a tent at Santa Monica beach on Saturday, February 25, 2012. The awards ceremony will premiere later that evening at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on IFC, and as previously announced actor, writer and producer Seth Rogen will serve as host of the ceremony.

“We’re so appreciative to Audi of America, Nokia, Piaget and Jameson Irish Whiskey for funding cash prizes as part of the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards. In addition to industry recognition the Spirit Awards provides, this kind of direct financial support makes a meaningful difference. It allows our grant winners to pay some bills as they take the next natural step in their careers, and it brings extra attention to their compelling and provocative stories,” said Co-President Josh Welsh.

“At Film Independent, we exist to provide a community for independent filmmakers, and the brunch is one way we bring together current and past Spirit Award nominees to, first celebrate them, but also to introduce them to one another prior to awards ceremony. The event especially shines a spotlight on the talented group of emerging film artists, selected by our blue-ribbon committees, who should be on the radar of the film industry. The grant nominees and winners are part of the next generation of filmmakers we expect to inspire film lovers for years to come,” said Co-President Sean Mc Manus.

Mark Jackson, director of Without, received the Audi Someone to Watch Award, which recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award, which is in its eighteenth year, includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded for the first time by Audi of America. The finalists for the award included Simon Arthur for Silver Tongues and Nicholas Ozeki for Mamitas.

Heather Courtney, director of Where Soldiers Come From received the Nokia Truer Than Fiction Award, which is presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not received significant recognition. The award is in its seventeenth year and includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Nokia. Danfung Dennis for Hell and Back Again and Alma Har’el for Bombay Beach were also finalists for the award.

Sophia Lin, producer of Take Shelter received the Piaget Producers Award, which honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources demonstrate the creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The annual award, in its fifteenth year, includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by Piaget. Finalists were Chad Burris for Mosquita Y Mari and Josh Mond for Martha Marcy May Marlene.

Benjamin Murray and Alysa Nahmias for Unfinished Spaces received the second annual Jameson FIND Your Audience Award, which helps one low-budget independent film find a broader audience. The award included a $40,000 marketing and distribution grant, funded by Jameson® Irish Whiskey. The other finalists were Cara Marcous for On the Ice and Sheldon Larry for Leave It On The Floor. The nominating committee was composed of publicist and Film Independent Board Member Laura Kim, filmmaker Scott Macaulay and CrowdStarter’s Liz Ogilvie.

The Film Independent Spirit Awards are sponsored by Premier Sponsors ELLE, Piaget Jameson® Irish Whiskey and Audi of America and Principal Sponsors Stella Artois and Nokia. WireImage is the Official Photographer and PR Newswire is the Official Breaking News Service of Film Independent.

For more information on submission guidelines, voting, media and publicist credentials, and the history of the Spirit Awards, please visit SpiritAwards.com.

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