This year's Independent Spirit Awards boasts an admirably inclusive, wide-ranging lineup that recognizes the full scope of artistic achievements being made in all corners of contemporary independent cinema and puts other, more purportedly prestigious awards bodies to shame for their narrow-mindedness.
Before the winged trophies are handed out at this year’s ceremony on Saturday, February 9th, catch up with nine of the ten entertaining, enthralling, and altogether unforgettable Tribeca Film Festival selections that have been nominated this year, from Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar’s Barack and Michelle Obama-endorsed documentary American Factory, an eye-opening look at the ever-evolving state of American labor, to Shawn Snyder’s To Dust, a hilarious buddy comedy that's also a wrenching meditation on grief, featuring one of the year's most underrated performances:
American Factory (Dirs. Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar)
Nominated for Best Documentary
The documentary is called American Factory, but that’s “American” with a wink: Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s stunning, Academy Award-nominated film explores the complex merging of cultures that arises when Chinese billionaire opens a factory in Dayton, Ohio. A 2019 Tribeca Critics’ Week selection.
Blow the Man Down (Dirs. Danielle Krudy and Bridget Savage Cole)
Nominated for Best First Screenplay
While grieving for the loss of their mother, the Connolly Sisters (Morgan Saylor and Sophie Lowe) suddenly find they have a crime to cover up, leading them deep into the underbelly of their salty Maine fishing village. Winner of Best Screenplay in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.
Stream it on Amazon Prime Video starting March 20th.
Burning Cane (Dir. Phillip Youmans)
Nominated for Best Supporting Male (Wendell Pierce) and the John Cassavetes Award
Set among the cane fields of rural Louisiana, Burning Cane follows a deeply religious mother (Karen Kaia Livers) struggling to reconcile her convictions of faith with the love she has for her troubled son (Dominique McClellan). Winner of the Founders Award for Best U.S. Narrative Feature, Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature (Pierce), and Best Cinematography (Youmans) at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.
Diane (Dir. Kent Jones)
Nominated for Best First Feature and Best Female Lead (Mary Kay Place)
Diane (Place, winner of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and National Society of Film Critics Awards for Best Actress) is a devoted friend and caretaker, particularly to her drug-addicted son (Jake Lacy). But as those around her begin to drift away in the last quarter of her life, she is left to reckon with past choices and long-dormant memories in this haunting character study. Winner of the Founders Award for Best U.S. Narrative Feature, Best Cinematography in a U.S. Narrative Feature (Wyatt Garfield), and Best Screenplay in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film (Jones).
Driveways (Dir. Andrew Ahn)
Nominated for Best Female Lead (Hong Chau) and Best First Screenplay (Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen)
In this beautifully understated drama, a lonesome boy (Lucas Jaye) accompanies his mother (Chau) on a trip to clean out his late aunt's house, and ends up forming an unexpected friendship with the retiree (Brian Dennehy) who lives next door. A 2019 Tribeca Critics’ Week selection.
Island of the Hungry Ghosts (Dir. Gabrielle Brady)
Nominated for Best Documentary
Christmas Island, Australia is home to one of the largest land migrations on earth—that of forty million crabs journeying from jungle to sea. But the jungle holds another secret: a high-security facility that indefinitely detains individuals seeking asylum. Winner of Best Documentary Feature at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.
Luce (Dir. Julius Onah)
Nominated for Best Director, Best Male Lead (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), and Best Supporting Female (Octavia Spencer)
After writing an inflammatory essay, a high school overachiever (Harrison Jr.) finds himself on a collision course with his adoptive parents (Tim Roth and Naomi Watts) and an overbearing teacher (Spencer). A complex drama boasting an amazing ensemble cast, Luce sears the screen.
See You Yesterday (Dir. Stefon Bristol)
Nominated for Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay (Fredrica Bailey and Bristol)
Two Brooklyn teenage prodigies, C.J. Walker (Eden Duncan-Smith) and Sebastian Thomas (Dante Crichlow), build make-shift time machines to save C.J.'s brother, Calvin (Brian ‘Stro’ Bradley), from being wrongfully killed by a police officer in Bristol’s feature debut, produced by Spike Lee. Narrative Audience Award runner-up at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.
To Dust (Dir. Shawn Snyder)
Nominated for Best Screenplay (Jason Begue and Snyder)
Traumatized by the death of his wife, a Hasidic cantor (Géza Röhrig) obsesses over how her body will decay. He seeks answers from a local biology professor (Matthew Broderick) in this unlikeliest of buddy comedies. Winner of Best New Narrative Director and the Narrative Audience Award at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.