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Three Film Independent Awards Unveiled at Spirit Awards Brunch

Film Independent has presented a trio of Spirit Awards with filmmaker grants to Mel Eslyn, Felix Thompson and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi.

Each received $25,000 grants from the Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday at the organization’s annual brunch at the Boa in West Hollywood.

The Piaget Producers Award, which goes to an emerging producer, went to Eslyne. Her credits include “My Sister’s Sister” and “The One I Love.”

The Truer Than Fiction Award went to Vasarhelyi for “Incorruptible” and the Someone to Watch Award — which recognizes a filmmaker “of singular vision” who has “not yet received appropriate recognition” — went to Thompson for “King Jack.”

Notable guests included Bel Powley, Michael Fassbender, “Carol” screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, Cate Blanchett, Jason Segel, Todd Haynes, “Beasts of No Nation’s” Abraham Attah and Sally Kirkland — who noted that she had won the second Best Actress award at the 1987 Spirits for “Anna.”

“Geraldine Page was the first and Jodie Foster was the third,” Kirkland said.

Film Independent chief Josh Welsh launched the ceremonies by asking nominees to avoid giving a list of thank-yous should they win at the Feb. 27 awards show.

“Last year, nobody used a piece of paper for thank-yous and it kept the show fresh and dynamic,” he added.

Rami Malek and Uzo Aduba gave out the awards.

Finalists for the Piaget award were Darren Dean, Rebecca Green and Laura D. Smith. Finalists for the Someone to Watch award were Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck directors of “God Bless the Child” and Chloé Zhao, director of “Songs My Brothers Taught Me.” Finalists for the Truer than Fiction award were Mohammed Ali Naqvi and Hemal Trivedi for “Among the Believers” and Elizabeth Giamatti and Alex Sichel for “A Woman Like Me.”

(Pictured: Felix Thompson, Josh Welsh, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Mel Eslyn, Uzo Aduba, Rami Malek at the Film Independent Spirit Awards Brunch)

Ben Mendelsohn and Rooney Mara
Chelsea Lauren/Variety/Rex Shutterstock

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