On Tuesday, Nov. 22, the 2023 Film Independent Spirit Awards nominees were announced, among which are films by several CalArts alums and faculty.
Two CalArtian-directed films are up this year for the John Cassavetes Award, given to the best feature made for less than $1 million (the amount has doubled from its previous $500,000 cap).
Vying for the Cassavetes Award is Holy Emy, which boasts a CalArtian-studded creative team: Araceli Lemos (Film/Video MFA 12) as writer and director, School of Film/Video faculty Giulia Caruso (Film/Video MFA 13) as writer and producer, and School of Film/Video faculty Ki Jin Kim (Film/Video MFA 10) as a producer, alongside Mathieu Bompoint and Konstantinos Vassilaros.
The film follows sisters Emy and Teresa, who live within a close Filipino Catholic community in Athens upon their mother’s return to the Philippines. Once Teresa gets pregnant, the titular character finds herself inexplicably drawn to mysterious internal forces.
Lemos is also nominated for the Someone to Watch Award for Holy Emy. Now in its 29th year, the distinction is awarded to a talented filmmaker “of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition.”
Former School of Art faculty and 2022 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts (Visual Arts) recipient Martine Syms is also nominated for the John Cassavetes Award for her directorial debut The African Desperate. Selected as a Critic’s Pick by The New York Times, the “whip-smart satire” follows MFA candidate Palace (Diamond Stingily) grappling with identity and instability as her time at a fine art school draws to a close.
See the full list of 2023 nominees at Film Independent. The 38th annual awards ceremony returns in-person on Saturday, March 4, 2023, at the Santa Monica Pier.