Columbia Alumni Receive 6 Independent Spirit Awards Nominations

November 30, 2018

The Independent Spirit Awards nominations are out, and six nominations this year recognize Columbia alumni. Assistant Professor Shrihari Sathe '09 has been nominated for the Producers Award. Alumna Nicole Holofcener '88 received the Best Screenplay nomination for Can You Ever Forgive Me?. Alumna Christina Choe '12 received the Best First Screenplay nomination for Nancy, and best supporting actress for J. Cameron Smith for Nancy. Alumni Sandi Tan '00 and Jessica Levin '02 received the Best Documentary nomination for Shirkers.


The Independent Spirit Awards nominations are selected by a 46-member committee and the awards are voted on by the 6,000-plus members of Film Independent. The eligibility rules require that movies be produced in the U.S. for less than $20 million. Get Out won the best feature film trophy this year. In the prior four years, Moonlight, Spotlight, Birdman, and 12 Years A Slave won both the Spirit Award and the Oscar for best picture. The awards ceremony will take place on Feb. 23 — the day before the Academy Awards — in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica, California. The show, now in its 34th year, will air on IFC.


Sathe is an independent producer and director. Sathe's feature directorial debut, Ek Hazarachi Note (1000 Rupee Note) won the Special Jury Award (Best Director) and Centenary Award for Best Film at the 2014 International Film Festival of India and has received over 30 awards including several for Best Director and Best Film. Sathe is a 2013 Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellow and has received fellowships from the HFPA, PGA, IFP, Film Independent, and The Sundance Institute, to name a few.


Holofcener, who was born in New York, made her feature film debut with Walking and Talking in 1996. Along with her feature films, she has also directed several TV episodes for shows such as Sex and the City, Gilmore Girls, and Six Feet Under. Holofcener, in profile by The New Yorker last August, was called “one of the sharpest anatomists of upper-middle-class American life.”


Choe previously directed the short films I Am John Wayne (which won the Slamdance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize) and The Queen (which won Best of the Festival at Palm Springs ShortFest), and the docuseries Welcome to the DPRK (which was filmed in secret over the course of three trips to North Korea). She was an artist resident at The MacDowell Colony and landed fellowships with the Sundance Institute, Film Independent, the Roger and Chaz Ebert Foundation, and HBO. Her feature directorial debut, Nancy also stars Ann Dowd and John Leguizamo.

Tan published a zine called The Exploding Cat at age 16 and became the film critic at The Straits Times, Singapore’s largest newspaper at 22, then threw all that away to run off to film school at Columbia University. Her short films Moveable Feast and Gourmet Baby have played at over 100 film festivals including NYFF, Oberhausen and Clermont-Ferrand, and were broadcast internationally on RAI, SBS and ZDF/arte. She is also the author of The Black Isle, an epic novel that re-imagines Singapore’s past as a ghost story. She was a 2016 Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellow, a 2017 IFP Documentary Lab Fellow and a 2017 Sundance Creative Producing Fellow. She lives in Pasadena, California.

Levin is a veteran in independent film (producer of various indie features and post-production supervisor on Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche New York), Jess became a prolific producer on HBO shows (Cary Fukunaga’s True Detective and Todd Haynes’ Mildred Pierce, David Simon’s The Deuce (pilot), Treme and Show Me a Hero). Most recently, she is a producer on Scott Frank’s Godless and Cary Fukunaga’s Maniac for Netflix.


Congratulations to all!