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‘Leave No Trace’ Director Debra Granik Wins Bonnie Award

Debra Granik, who directed and wrote “Leave No Trace,” has received Film Independent’s second Bonnie Award, given to recognize a mid-career female director.

The trophy, which includes a $50,000 grant, was presented Saturday afternoon to “Leave No Trace” producer Anne Rosellini at the organization’s Spirit Awards brunch at Boa Steakhouse in West Hollywood. Granik could not attend.

Her film, which centers on a father (played by Ben Foster) and daughter living in the Oregon wilderness, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. “Leave No Trace” is up for three Spirits for best feature, director, and actress for Thomasin McKenzie.

The award is named after Bonnie Tiburzi Caputo, who joined American Airlines in 1973 at age 24, becoming the first female pilot to fly for a major U.S. airline. It was inaugurated last year with “The Rider” director Chloe Zhao as the first recipient. Karyn Kusama (“Destroyer”) and Tamara Jenkins (“Private Life”) were the other finalists.

“The Bonnie Award acknowledges that social and cultural change don’t just happen because we think it would be fair or nice,” Rosellini said in her acceptance.

Granik was nominated for best picture and best adapted screenplay in 2010 for “Winter’s Bone,” which she also directed. She also directed “Down to the Bone.”

The 34th annual Spirit Awards will be held on Feb. 23 in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica, Calif. Only films with budgets of $20 million or less are eligible.

Three other $25,000 cash-grant awards were presented at the brunch by Lena Waithe and Brian Tyree Henry. Shrihari Sathe, whose most recent projects include “The Sweet Requiem” and “Screwdriver,” received the Producers Award, which honors emerging producers who demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality, independent films despite limited resources. Finalists were Gabrielle Nadoq and the team of Jonathan Duffy and Kelly Williams.

Alex Moratto, director of “Sócrates,” received the Someone to Watch Award, which to recognizes talented filmmakers of singular vision who have not yet received appropriate recognition. Finalists were Ioana Uricaru, director of “Lemonade,” and Jeremiah Zagar, director of “We The Animals.” Moratto made the film for $20,000 about a 15-year-old living in the slums of Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Bing Liu, director of “Minding The Gap,” received the Truer Than Fiction Award, presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not received significant recognition. Finalists were Alexandria Bombach, director of “On Her Shoulders,” and Ramell Ross, director of “Hale County This Morning, This Evening.”

Liu accepted the award by noting that it was his 30th birthday and inviting the audience to skate with him in nearby Glendale. He won the International Documentary Association’s award for top feature of 2018.

“Minding the Gap” is Liu’s first feature and chronicles his friendship over a dozen years with fellow skateboarders Zack Mulligan and Keire Johnson. The film has been praised for presenting an intimate portrait of the trio’s lives, particularly the issue of domestic abuse.

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