The Independent Spirit Awards (ISAs) began in 1984 under the name ‘Friends of Independents Awards’ as a way of countering the increasing influence of big-budget films both in the film industry in general and in the Academy Awards (the ‘Oscars’) in particular. The award was renamed the ‘Independent Spirit Awards’ in 1986 (honoring independent films made in 1985) and this list begins with that year.
The ceremony has usually taken place the Saturday before the Academy Awards. It was first held in various hotel ballrooms and on one occasion at a film studio. Since the 8th ISAs in 1993 (honoring films made in 1992), it has been held in a tent near the beach in Santa Monica, California. While there has often been overlap between winners of the ISAs and the Academy Awards, there is usually a focus on ‘mid-budget’ films rather than gargantuan big-budget films or obscure low-budget films.
FIlm Independent (the non-profit organization which runs the event) added awards specifically for ‘First Feature’ and ‘First Screenplay’ in 1987 (honoring films made in 1986) to heighten the focus on debut filmmakers and further distinguish the ISAs from the Academy Awards.Read less