Awards weekend!

It should be noted that today, two very important movie awards shows take place: the Independent Spirit Awards, celebrating independent film, and the Razzies, celebrating really bad film. Today we’ll talk about Independent Spirit and save the Razzies for tomorrow, Oscar day, because I’ll be checking in with Razzies founder John Wilson for his take on the Razzie winners.

Now: the Independent Spirit Awards, which you’ll find tonight on the channel IFC (if you get IFC, and otherwise I’m pretty sure you won’t find them), were founded in 1984 as the FINDIE (Friends of Independents) Awards. It took only two years before they changed the name to Independent Spirit. They were founded by Jeanne Lucas and Anne Kimmel to thank people and organizations for their support of independent films.

The first FINDIEs were acrylic glass pyramids with shoelaces inside, to represent the shoestring budget many independent films operate on. Since 2006, the award has been a bird sitting atop a pole with shoestrings wrapped around it. You know, I like the acrylic pyramid thing better.

Key moments for Independent Spirit Awards: in 1992, Jodie Foster gave a keynote address entitled “The Scum-Sucking Vampire Pig Theory of Hollywood.” Eight years later, they eliminated the keynote address.

In 1995, the beach in Santa Monica is established as the permanent home for the awards. Also, criteria for competition are established: original, provocative subject matter; uniqueness of vision; economy of means; and percentage of independent financing.

Over the years, new categories are established to encourage filmmakers, writers, and actors new in the profession to keep going. Grants in the amount of $20,000 are given out to said newbies.

The Independent Spirit Awards were an early place to protest the war in Iraq. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was held three days before that ceremony. Elvis Costello showed up to perform “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding,” and Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” wins, giving him a chance to make an anti-Bush (2.0) speech.

Skipping ahead — in 2009 Mickey Rourke made a six-minute speech in which he thanked the Santa Monica Police Department for giving him a bed to sleep in 10 years ago.

And that brings us practically to the 2011 awards, which happen tonight. Tune in tomorrow for a recap of the awards and stories about the Razzies, which have been looking for a television home but evidently are still looking. Also: this little show called the Oscars that for some reason everyone’s all hot and bothered about.
Go to the movies, people! Thank you, that is all.


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