Santa Monican actress, writer and creative producer Marie Paquim walked the red carpet for Film Independent’s 30th annual Spirit Awards, which took place Feb. 21 on Santa Monica Beach. Joining her was her mother, renowned Fado singer Lisette Paquim. Paquim attended as a member of the Arts Circle, which helps sponsor the organization’s activities.

Marie Paquim’s day at the Spirit Awards was not a disappointment as her friend, writer/director Dan Gilroy, won Best First Feature and also Best Screenwriter awards for his film “Nightcrawler.” Others in attendance were Alfred Molina, nominated for Best Supporting Actor for “Love Is Strange,” Oprah Winfrey, producer for “Selma,” and Michael Keaton, who won the Best Male Lead award for his work in “Birdman.”

The awards ceremony, which was broadcast live on the Independent Film Channel, was carried by the comical hosting of Fred Armisen and Kristen Bell, who delighted the crowd with their musical rendition of “I’m A Little Bit Indie/I’m A Little Bit Studio,” in addition to a pre-show video spoofing both “Birdman” and “Whiplash” (including many face slaps to Fred).

Gilroy, like many other Spirit Award winners, took the time to wax poetic on the often thankless yet fulfilling job of being a filmmaker, noting the irony of the awards being held on Santa Monica Beach. So many times in the past, he said, his work had been “erased in the sand.” Best Supporting Actress winner Patricia Arquette similarly noted her long years of struggle in film and finally making the awards ceremony, saying, “Thanks for inviting me to the party!”

Marie Paquim joined many of the nominees later, also by the beach in Santa Monica, for a pleasant after-party. There, Oscar nominee Orlando von Einsiedel assured her that the mountain gorillas he filmed up close in “Virunga” really were just gentle giants. In that same “independent spirit,” Paquim made sure to compliment director Dave Boyle, saying his nomination for the John Cassavetes Award — given to films done for budgets under $200,000 — was just the beginning of something much bigger.

Paquim’s own film, “Land of the Free, Except for Me” — an action thriller drama due to be shot by this summer — could also be “just the beginning.” We shall see how the dreams of Paquim, and all of her fellow independent filmmakers, continue to transform themselves from figments of their imaginations to the real thing.

Courtesy photo (above): Local actress, writer and producer Marie Paquim (right) poses Feb. 21 with director/writer Dan Gilroy, who won Best First Feature and Best Screenwriting for “Nightcrawler” at the Spirit Awards in Santa Monica.

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