Robert Eggers took home the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay Saturday. The writer and director of “The Witch,” Eggers’ debut feature is a beautifully shot horror about a Puritan family’s brush with witches told entirely in old English. Set in New England decades before the Salem witch trials of 1692, “The Witch” was lauded for its daring and inventive new take on the classic genre.
Originally a designer for experimental and classical theater in New York City, Eggers transitioned to film as a designer and by directing shorts. In his acceptance speech, Eggers said: “I want to thank my wife, who had to be around for four years while I was obsessed with witches… Also thanks to the Puritans, who wrote a lot of stuff down. Otherwise I couldn’t have written this.”
Eggers also thanked powerhouse indie studio A24 for producing “The Witch,” as well as many other Independent Spirit nominees, including “Moonlight,” “20th Century Women,” and “The Lobster.”
Other nominees in the category were Craig Shilowich (“Christine”), Stella Meghie (“Jean of the Joneses”), Chris Kelly (“Other People”), and Adam Mansbach (“Barry”). The Best First Screenplay award can catapult careers, especially considering many of the films will not receive Oscar consideration. The last three winners were Emma Donoghue (“Room”), Justin Simien (“Dear White People”), and Bob Nelson (“Nebraska”).
The 32nd Film Independent Spirit Awards were hosted Saturday, February 25 by Nick Kroll and John Mulaney on a beach in Los Angeles. The annual ceremony honors the best in independent film as voted on by members of Film Independent and IFP.
This is the first Independent Spirit Award for Robert Eggers, who won a second award shortly afterwards for Best First Feature.