By Misti Kerns

While the Academy Awards garner international limelight, Santa Monica also celebrates cinema with a celebration of its own with the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Held annually the night before the Oscars®, cinematic talents gathered beachside in Santa Monica for a casual celebration of independent films.

On Saturday, February 29 a host of filmmakers and performers gathered on our local shores, including Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei, If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins and Roma director Alfonso Cuarón, among many others.

The star-studded ceremony was also attended by Santa Monica resident Nusa Coleman, the winning recipient of tickets from Santa Monica Travel & Tourism. During the contest, Santa Monica residents were invited to submit photos of their favorite way to spend a winter day at the Santa Monica Pier on Facebook and Instagram. Full submissions are on view at

“It was a great time and a wonderful experience,” said Coleman. “I felt so lucky to have had the opportunity to attend such a wonderful event in honor of small, independent cinema from around the world in my hometown of Santa Monica. I am grateful to have won the contest!”

The Spirit Awards are produced by Film Independent, a non-profit that also produces the L.A. Film Festival and whose stated mission is to “champion creative independence in visual storytelling and support a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision.” As a longtime partner to the community, Film Independent graciously donated the tickets for the contest and heavily featured Santa Monica footage and praise in the broadcast of the ceremony.

As has often been the case in recent years, a number of Spirit Award winners also went on to pick up Oscars® the following night. Regina King took home the best supporting female prize for her performance in If Beale Street Could Talk. Also presaging the Academy’s pick, Roma won for Best International Film.

Santa Monica Travel & Tourism Film Independent Spirit Awards ticket giveaway is an annual event. Be sure to check back in winter 2020 for full contest details and your chance to attend next year’s celebration.


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