Nikyatu Jusu won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize in 2022 for her feature filmmaking debut “Nanny,” which was distributed by Amazon Studios last fall, but her presence has otherwise been mostly absent from the 2022-2023 awards circuit, despite the film’s acclaim and high-profile release. During Saturday afternoon’s Film Independent Spirit Awards, Jusu accepted the Someone to Watch Award — but her name was, in fact, spelled incorrectly on the trophy. Jusu called it out during the ceremony and then again backstage.
“I’m so excited! Even though you misspelled my name,” Jusu said upon accepting the prize in the tent in Santa Monica. But backstage in the press tent, Jusu also called out the overall omissions for women and people of color she feels pervade this awards season, and also pointed out how the cycle of awards campaigning feels largely irrelevant to her as an artist.
“The Oscars are not my center, but because of this career path, it’s forced on us as a barometer of excellence,” Jusu said to the press corps backstage, after also acknowledging how her name was misspelled on the Someone to Watch award she received.
“It’s very lonely, especially when you are tokenized,” she said of the awards season campaign path. She overall described filmmaking in general as a “lonely trajectory” backstage at the Independent Spirit Awards.
“The Oscars pulls a lot of us out,” she said, but added of her fellow nominees, “Seeing all these amazing, brilliant innovators here is really inspiring. It reminds me I’m not alone.”
“‘Nanny’ was a project I was kicking around for eight or nine years, and it was [my producing partner] Nikkia [Moulterie]’s favorite of the ideas I had,” Jusu told IndieWire last year. “She just always held my feet to the fire to revisit it. We started getting into all the labs simultaneously over the past couple of years and then it gained all this traction. It’s a testament to the hurry-up-and wait aspect of this industry. You’re constantly sprinting to these deadlines but the industry pays attention on its own time.”
Here are all the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Award winners.
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