Spirit Awards: Film Independent Moves to Gender-Neutral Categories

Spirit Awards: Film Independent Moves to Gender-Neutral Categories

Film Independent’s Spirit Awards ceremony recognizing 2022 indie films — which will henceforth mean films that cost $30 million or less or, for the John Cassavetes Award, $1 million or less — will take place on March 4, 2023, the organization announced on Tuesday. And the categories for Spirit Award nominees and winners will look different than ever before.

Indeed, the organization has decided to trade in its “best actor,” “best actress,” “best supporting actor” and “best supporting actress” awards — for both film and TV performances — for gender-neutral categories with the same combined number of nominees, namely, best lead performance and best supporting performance.

“We’re thrilled to join the other festivals and award shows that are already moving to celebrate great acting without reference to gender,” Film Independent president Josh Welsh said in a statement. “We’re also happy to welcome non-binary performers into the Spirit Awards without forcing them to choose to identify as male or female.”

Welsh continued, “Additionally, it has been a long time since we substantially increased the budget limit for eligibility. This new cap allows us to continue to celebrate the same breadth of work that we have in the past.”

In adopting gender-neutral categories, Film Independent is following in the footsteps of the Grammys, Gotham Awards, British Independent Film Awards and MTV Movie & TV Awards.

While the best lead performance and best supporting performance categories will each feature 10 nominees, best breakthrough performance — a new category, also gender-neutral — will feature just five.

Given residual effects of the COVID pandemic on filmmakers and the industry, the organization has once again decided to waive its eligibility requirement of a theatrical release.

Film nominations for the 2023 Spirit Awards will be announced virtually on November 22, 2022. Television nominations will be announced on December 13, 2022. The 38th Spirit Awards ceremony will take place on March 4, 2023.