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2017 Independent Spirit Awards: The Best Things Jeff Nichols, Kirsten Johnson, Matt Ross and More Told Us From the Blue Carpet

Thoughts on today's awards from some of the afternoon's honorees.

Jeff Nichols32nd Film Independent Spirit Awards, Arrivals, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, USA - 25 Feb 2017

Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

In the annual cluster of late-season awards shows, the Film Independent Spirit Awards always ends up as a unique gathering. With a clear view of the water from the beach in Santa Monica, there’s definitely a more relaxed air, even as the general awards festivities near their fever pitch.

With that in mind, the Independent Spirits arrivals, on an infamous blue carpet, become a more jaunty affair. More of a big late-morning chat than a twilight press blitz, it gives the filmmakers and performers a chance to share some light-hearted thoughts that other pre-show traditions might not afford.

READ MORE: 2017 Independent Spirit Awards: Full Winners List — Updating Live

So, here, as per annual tradition, here are our favorite dispatches from “the blue carpet,” the best things said to IndieWire before this year’s Indie Spirits.

Ira Sachs, director of “Little Men”

“There’s a sense of affirmation that the struggle was received appreciatively. This film is about vulnerability, so I think creatively there was a sense of ‘Would it find its audience?’ And it has. That’s really a nice feeling. It’s a little strange time to be celebrating anything in this country, so I guess the thing to celebrate is the individual voice and the individual story.”

Raoul Peck, director of  “I Am Not Your Negro”

“It’s been an incredible drive to today. People are telling me they’ve watched the film once, twice, a third time and then they bring their family because it’s something they can live together and exchange with it. It was a dangerous thing for me. I didn’t know how people would react. Even the title, it’s provocative, but it’s not insulting. James Baldwin can be your most direct critic and still be your friend. People have the feeling that ‘I get the truth, but I love this man.'”

James Baldwin Raoul Peck I am Not Your Negro

“I Am Not Your Negro”

Kirsten Johnson, director of “Cameraperson”

“Audiences are incredibly sophisticated. We need to treat them with the respect that says that they can understand really complex subject matter without being told what to think or what to feel. The response to ‘Cameraperson’ really validates this notion that an openness around how complicated a film can be generates a strong, complicated reception to it.”

Matt Ross, director of  “Captain Fantastic”

“I’ve made many things in my life where you get invited to the party and no one cares or even if they like it, they don’t care. So it’s nice to have people feel like you deserve to be part of the party.”

Robert Eggers, director of “The Witch”

“You probably couldn’t make a film in Jacobean English about a bunch of pilgrims praying with a big studio. I love both worlds, but in independent film, people can take huge risks, which is really exciting.”

“The Witch”

Jeff Nichols, director of “Loving”

“It’s satisfying, because I’ve made other films that people don’t recognize. So I know the difference, I suppose. This whole endeavor was to try and get people to know more about Richard and Mildred Loving, to understand that they lived and they’re part of our American history. With every click or view or acknowledgment of Ruth and what dress she’s wearing, all that stuff adds up to a social conversation about Richard and Mildred Loving. As long as that’s happening, I’m happy. I grew up in a time when black history was relegated to a month. There’s a huge part of our that history that needs to be brought to the forefront. We need to come to terms with the good and bad things that we’ve done as a country to get to where we are.”

Chris Kelly, director of “Other People”

“I’m very excited and grateful to be here and be nominated, but I specifically keep thinking about [Jesse Plemons and Molly Shannon]. I think they’re amazing, I can’t believe that they were even in the movie. But I’m glad that everybody’s thinking that they were so good because I think that and it’s nice that they’re being recognized. I feel like I’m crashing someone’s party and I get to just hang out.”

Andre Royo, star of “Hunter Gatherer”

“This is a lot of validation. For me, it’s motivation that we still recognize that the audience appreciates art. It ain’t just blockbusters. It ain’t just superheroes vs. zombies. It’s about storytelling, at its core. When we can get together and get that done and be here right now, it means that we’re not wrong. The artist and the audience still connect. I appreciate that.”

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