The Spirit Awards, one of the nation’s premier awards celebrating the best in independent film and television, will no longer divide its acting award categories into male and female performances.
On Tuesday, Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization behind the prestigious awards, announced major changes to its 38th annual, which is due to take place on March 4.
“We are thrilled to join the other festivals and awards shows that are already traveling to celebrate great acting without reference to gender,” the organization’s president, Josh Welsh, said in a statement.
“We are also happy to welcome non-binary artists into the Spirit Awards without forcing them to choose to identify as male or female,” he added.
Film Independent is the latest arts organization to introduce gender-neutral awards to honor its “long-standing commitment to inclusivity and representation”, the organizers said in a statement.
Other awards that have adopted gender-neutral categories include the Grammys, Gotham Awards, British Independent Film Awards, and MTV Movie & TV Awards.
All nominees for the 2023 Spirit Awards will be grouped into a “Best Lead Performance” category for film and a “Best Lead Performance in a New Scripted Series” for television, which will include up to 10 nominees each.
The same will happen with the supporting categories: up to 10 nominees for “Best Supporting Performance” in Film; and up to 10 nominees for “Best Supporting Performance in a New Scripted Series” for television – which is a new award.
A new category for film will also be introduced next year: “Best Breakthrough Performance”, which will feature up to five nominees.
Organizers say the budget cap for eligible films has risen to $30 million (from $22.5 million in 2019) “in response to rising production costs”. The budget cap for the John Cassavetes Award, which is given to the writer, director and producer of a film, has been raised from $500,000 to $1 million.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve raised the eligibility budget limit significantly,” Welsh said. “This new cap allows us to continue celebrating the same breadth of work that we have in the past.”
Last year’s John Cassavetes Award went to Emma Seligman, who directed and wrote “Shiva Baby,” a comedy about a young bisexual Jewish woman attending a shiva with her parents.
For next year’s award, the organization will again waive the indoor race typically required for eligibility “in response to the continued effects of COVID on filmmakers and the industry” to ensure more opportunities. independent filmmakers “to be recognized and celebrated.”
Film nominations for the 2023 Spirit Awards will be announced virtually on November 22. Television nominations will be announced on December 13.