Your Guide To The Top Awards For Independent Films

The Academy Awards might be cinema’s glitziest and highest-profile red-carpet event, but Oscars go to big-budget studio pictures just as often as they go to independent films.

With that in mind, here’s a rundown of the film world’s prestigious prizes. When an independent film wins one of these accolades, it not only recognizes the excellent filmmaking, but adds a marketing buzz and box-office boost as well. Thus, recognition at any of these events is typically a great boon for an independent film.

The Palme d’Or is the top prize at the Festival de Cannes, arguably the world’s premiere film festival. It’s roughly analogous to the Best Picture Academy Award. It is awarded by a jury of film professionals and has a tendency to go to more avant-garde movies. Last year’s winner was “Blue Is The Warmest Color.”

At the Toronto International Film Festival, the People’s Choice Award is the signature prize. Unlike the juried Palme d’Or, it is selected by audience members, so the winners tend to be a bit more populist than those at Cannes. Last year’s winner was “12 Years A Slave.”

The Film Independent Spirit Awards are meant to recognize independent movies specifically. The blue ribbon here is probably the Best Feature award, which last year went to “Silver Linings Playbook.” The Spirit Awards are regarded as having a tendency to recognize American movies.

In contrast to the Spirit Awards, the Berlin International Film Festival often gives its top prize, The Golden Bear, to European movies. Last year’s winner was the Romanian film “Child’s Pose.”

The reason we pay attention to news coming from these film festivals is that at Indie Film Funding, we help aspiring filmmakers round up the financing necessary to get their movies made. Visit our website,, or contact us for more information.