Independent Spirit Awards make acting awards gender neutral

By Lindsey Bahr
AP Cinema Screenwriter

The Film Independent Spirit Awards will now feature gender-neutral film and television acting categories and raise its budget cap to $30 million, the organization announced Tuesday.

“We are thrilled to join the other festivals and awards shows that are already traveling to celebrate great acting without reference to genre,” Josh Welsh, chairman of Film Independent, said in a statement. “We are also happy to welcome non-binary artists into the Spirit Awards without forcing them to choose to identify as male or female.”

The Spirit Awards honor low-budget independent films and are known for their star-studded freewheeling ceremony that is part of the awards season leading up to the Oscars.

He joins several prominent awards organizations that have opted for gender-neutral awards, including the Grammys, Gotham Awards, and MTV Movie & TV Awards. The categories will now be “best lead performance” and “best support performance”.

The increase in the eligibility ceiling from $22.5 million to $30 million for a film production is intended to recognize the increased cost of making films.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve raised the eligibility budget limit significantly,” Welsh said. “This new cap allows us to continue celebrating the same breadth of work that we have in the past.”

Film Independent has also set the date for its next show for March 4, 2023, the weekend before the Oscars on March 12. Nominations for the 2023 Spirit Awards will be announced on November 22.