Independent film is already enough of a struggling art that sees both movies and performers pitted against each other—why add archaic gender categories to the competition too? The Film Independent Spirit Awards has announced it will move to gender-neutral nomination categories for next year’s awards, set to air on March 4, 2023. The move follows the decision of other large-scale awards like The Grammys, The MTV Movie & TV Awards, and The British Independent Film Awards to relinquish gendered honors as well.
“We’re thrilled to join the other festivals and award shows that are already moving to celebrate great acting without reference to gender. We’re also happy to welcome non-binary performers into the Spirit Awards without forcing them to choose to identify as male or female,” says Film Independent President Josh Welsh in a release. “Additionally, it has been a long time since we substantially increased the budget limit for eligibility. This new cap allows us to continue to celebrate the same breadth of work that we have in the past.”
In addition to the newly updated awards (which replace an Oscars-style category breakdown), the Spirit Awards also plans on making two additional shifts to account for the changing landscape of independent film. First, the awards will continue a pandemic-era practice of waiving a theatrical run as a requirement for competition entry. Second, the Awards have raised their cap on what a film can be budgeted at to qualify from $22.5 million to $30 million, a move aimed at bridging a gap created by rising production costs.
Submissions for the 2023 Spirit Awards are open now—The new gender-neutral categories (which will each have between five and ten nominees) are:
● Best Lead Performance (10 nominees)
● Best Supporting Performance (10 nominees)
● Best Breakthrough Performance (5 nominees) *new award
● Best Lead Performance in a New Scripted Series (10 nominees)
● Best Supporting Performance in a New Scripted Series (10 nominees) *new award