Still from Orthodox

Two Columbia Filmmakers Succeed at 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards

BY Felix van Kann, May 7, 2021

Unorthodox, a mini series created by alumna Anna Winger (CC '93), and Immigration Nation, executive produced by non-degree alumnus Dan Cogan '96, both won awards at the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards. While Unorthodox took home two prizes in the categories Best Female Performance (Scripted) for Shira Haas and Best Male Performance (Scripted) for Amit Rahav, Immigration Nation was honored as the Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series. Winners were announced during the 36th annual awards ceremony on April 22.


Original: 2/1/2021


Nine films by Columbia filmmakers have been nominated at this year’s Film Independent Spirit Awards. The 36th annual awards ceremony will take place on April 22. 


In addition, alumnus Gerry Kim '11 has been nominated for the Producers Award which honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity and vision required to produce quality independent films. In 2019, the award was taken home by Adjunct Associate Professor Shrihari Sathe '09. Kim was recently the producer on I’m No Longer Here, the directorial debut of alumnus Fernando Frías de la Parra '15 which is Mexico’s contender for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Academy Awards. 


The complete list of films and Columbia filmmakers involved is below:

Still from Dick Johnson is Dead

Dick Johnson Is Dead

Nominated for Best Documentary


Maureen Ryan '92, Associate Professor, Co-Producer

Marilyn Ness, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Co-Producer

Sarah Seulki Oh, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Production Manager

Michael Toscano '12, Assistant Director

John Wakayama Carey '14, DP

Joshua Ryan Troxler '18, Production Coordinator.

Mahak Jiwani '18, Production Coordinator

Kristy Richman '19, Production Coordinator/Extras Casting

Markus Kirschner '09, Production

Federica Gianni '17, Media Manager

Ewing Luo '18, Production

Frank Liu '19, Production Assistant

Student Alex Yarber, Production Assistant

Jaclyn Noel '19, Production Assistant

Christina Wood '19, Production Assistant



Nominated for Best Documentary 


Lauren Domino, Former Staff Member, Producer

Still from The White Tiger

The White Tiger

Nominated for Best Male Lead


Ramin Bahrani (CC '96), Associate Professor, Writer, Director, Producer

Sean Haynes '16, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Associate Producer, Title Designer

Still from The Assistant

The Assistant

Nominated for Best First Screenplay, Best Female Lead, and Best Cinematography


James Shamus, Professor of Professional Practice, Producer

Still from Unorthodox


Nominated for Best New Scripted Series, Best Female Performance in a Scripted Series, and Best Male Performance in a Scripted Series


Anna Winger (CC '93), Film and Media Studies BA, Creator/Executive Producer

Still from Bull


Nominated for Best Male Lead, Best Cinematography


Johnny McAllister '05, Co-Writer

Sean Haynes '16, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Post Supervisor

Still from Lapsis


Nominated for Best First Screenplay


Alex Peace-Power '17, Line Producer

Still from Immigration Nation

Immigration Nation 

Nominated for Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series


Dan Cogan '96, non-degree, Executive Producer

Still from First Cow

First Cow

Nominated in Best Feature (an award given to producers)


Sean Haynes '16, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Post Supervisor


The Film Independent Spirit Awards is the premier awards event for the independent film community. Each year, the Spirit Awards bring together top talent from throughout the world of independent film. In addition to traditional categories such as Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, etc., the Spirit Awards ceremony features a number of unique honors. These include Best First Feature, Best First Screenplay, the John Cassavetes Award (best feature under $500,000) and the Robert Altman Award (best ensemble cast). Winners will be announced April 22, 2021.