“Toni Erdmann” has won the Best International Feature at the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards. In accepting the award, writer-director Maren Ade called attention to how few films are directed by women.
“I’m really happy and proud to stand here as a female director because it’s still not normal enough,” said Ade, who afterwards gave Film Independent credit for the diversity of their nominees across categories.
Ade did not make any mention of President Trump’s travel ban which has become a big issue for her and the other Oscar nominated directors for Best Foreign Language Film. In light of fellow Oscar nominee Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (who was not nominated for a Spirit Award) having canceled his plans to attend tomorrow’s Oscars ceremony, the five Oscar nominated directors for Best Language Film yesterday issued a joint statement saying no matter who wins, “we want this award to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts.”
Also nominated for Best International Feature were director Kleber Mendonça Filho’s “Aquarius” (Brazil), Athina Tsangari’s “Chevalier” (Greece), Arnaud Desplechin’s “My Golden Days” (France), Babak Anvari’s “Under the Shadow” (Iran/United Kingdom).
“Toni Erdmann” was viewed as the favorite to win the Spirit Award, having already won prestigious Best Foreign Language Film prizes from nine different critics groups and being the only Spirit nominee in contention for an Oscar.
The Spirit Awards are different than the dozens of other awards shows leading up to the Academy Awards as they are specifically designed to celebrate the best of independent film. “Independent” is defined by the rules committee as meaning uniqueness of vision, original/provocative subject matter, and made for less that $20 million (which is why “La La Land” was ineligible this year). Film Independent and IFP Members vote on the winners.
As has become a tradition, the 32nd Annual Spirit Awards were held in a beachfront tent next to the Santa Monica Pier the Saturday afternoon before the Academy Awards. Comedians Nick Kroll and John Mulaney hosted the show.