The Independent Spirit Awards — which likes to posit itself as the anti-Oscars (although a major televised awards show with a red carpet and a press pack isn’t as far away from the Oscars as folks might like to think) — began in 1984 as a way to recognize (as the name suggests) independent films as opposed to big studio productions. Wiki, in fact, tells me that “[i]n 1985, Peter Coyote and Jamie Lee Curtis presented winners with a Plexiglas pyramid designed by Carol Bosselman, which contain a suspended shoestring, printed with sprocket holes, representing the shoestring budgets of independent films. ” (This is no longer the trophy. It’s now “a metal trophy depicting a bird with its wings spread sitting atop of a pole with the shoestrings from the previous design wrapped around the pole.” This metaphor is getting a little tortured, y’all!) A couple of years ago, Variety ran a really interesting piece about key moments the history of the show, including this gem:
1992: Honorary chair Jodie Foster delivers a speech about the less-than-honorable business practices among the studios. The title? “The Scum-Sucking Vampire Pig Theory of Hollywood.”
Talk about stuff that that would never fly now. Go back in time and start a blog, Jodie!
That article also does a fairly good job of subtly showing how much this particular event has turned into just another awards show, which is ultimately now probably more about a vibe than anything else, given that studio-financed films have been eligible since 1995. But speaking of vibes, the red carpet shots from the ’80s and ’90s are legitimately a hoot. So much floppy hair and smoking! You’re going to enjoy it.
As far as this year’s show goes, it sounds like it’s going to be a very complicated virtual event this Thursday. The Hollywood Reporter reports, “The 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards, hosted by Saturday Night Live’s Melissa Villaseñor, will take place on Thursday, April 22 and air live on IFC and AMC+ at 10 p.m. ET.” 10 p.m.!?! THE AUDACITY!