Director Cary Fukunaga and actor/producer Idris Elba on the set of "Beasts of No Nation."
Director Cary Fukunaga and actor/producer Idris Elba on the set of “Beasts of No Nation.”

The African war drama “Beasts of No Nation,” written for the screen, shot and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, has received five nominations for the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

The premier awards event for the independent film community will take place on Feb. 27 in Santa Monica.

Based on the novel of the same name by Uzodinma Iweala and filmed in Ghana, “Beasts of No Nation” is about a young boy who survives as his country goes through a horrific war. It was nominated in the following categories:

Best Feature for producers Daniel Crown, Idris Elba (also a cast member), Fukunaga, Amy Kaufman, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Riva Marker. Also nominated — producers of “Anomalisa,” “Carol,” “Spotlight,” “Tangerine.”

Best Cinematography for Fukunaga. Also nominated — Michael Gioulakis for “It Follows,” Ed Lachman for “Carol,” Reed Morano for “Meadowland,” Joshua James Richards for “Songs My Brothers Taught Me.”

Best Director for Fukunaga. Also nominated — Sean Baker for “Tangerine,” Todd Haynes for “Carol,” Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman for “Anomalisa,” Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight,” David Robert Mitchell for “It Follows.”

Takeshi Fukunaga filming " in Liberia.
Takeshi Fukunaga filming “Out of My Hand” in Liberia.

Best Male Lead for Abraham Attah. Also nominated — Christopher Abbott for “James White,” Ben Mendelsohn for “Mississippi Grind,” Jason Segel for “The End of the Tour,” Koudous Seihon for “Mediterranea.”

Best Supporting Male for Elba. Also nominated — Kevin Corrigan for “Results,” Paul Dano for “Love & Mercy,” Richard Jenkins for “Bone Tomahawk,” Michael Shannon for “99 Homes.”

Nominees for the John Cassavetes Award, given to the best feature made for under $500,000, include:

“Advantageous,” written, directed and produced by Jennifer Phang; written and produced by Jacqueline Kim; produced by Robert Chang, Ken Jeong (also a cast member), Moon Molson, Theresa Navarro (also a cast member). In a near-future city where soaring opulence overshadows economic hardship, Gwen (Jacqueline Kim) and her daughter Jules (Samantha Kim) do all they can to hold on to their joy together, despite the instability surfacing in their world. Cast includes James Urbaniak, Freya Adams, Troi Zee, Olivia Horton, Jennifer Ikeda, Mercedes Griffeth, Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris, Rex Lee, Jeanne Sakata, Matthew Kim.

“Out of My Hand,” written and directed by Takeshi Fukunaga; written and produced by Donari Braxton; produced by Mike Fox. In the Liberian countryside, Cisco’s quiet life as a rubber plantation worker is disrupted by a workers’ strike. Risking everything to embark on a new life, he accepts a chance invitation to New York, where he immerses himself in its small Liberian community. But when Cisco meets Jacob, a former Liberian child soldier, he is forced to confront his difficult past. Cast includes Bishop Blay, Zenobia Taylor, Duke Murphy Dennis.

Also nominated — “Christmas, Again,” written, directed and produced by Charles Poekel; “Heaven Knows What,” directed by Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie, written by Ronald Bronstein and Josh Safdie, produced by Oscar Boyson and Sebastian Bear McClard; “Krishna,” written, directed and produced by Trey Edward Shults, produced by Justin R. Chan, Chase Joliet, Wilson Smith.

Jacqueline Kim in a scene from "Advantageous."
Jacqueline Kim in a scene from Jennifer Phang’s “Advantageous.”

Best First Feature nominees include:

“Songs My Brothers Taught Me,” directed by Chloe Zhao, produced by Mollye Asher, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Angela C. Lee, Forest Whitaker. With an older brother in jail and living with their single mother on Pine Ridge Reservation, the lives of Johnny and his sister Jashuan develop new challenges when their absentee cowboy father suddenly dies. The loss prompts Johnny to strike out for Los Angeles, but would mean leaving behind his beloved sister. With Irene Bedard, Dakota Brown, Cat Clifford.

“Manos Sucias,” directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka, produced by Elena Greenlee, Marcia Nunes. A desperate fisherman and a naive young man embark on a dangerous journey trafficking drugs up the Pacific coast of Colombia. Hidden beneath the waves, they tow a narco-torpedo filled with millions of dollars worth of cocaine. Together they must brave the war-torn region while navigating the growing tension between them. With Cristian James Abvincula, Jarlin Javier Martinez, Hadder Blandon.

Also nominated — “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” directed by Marielle Heller; “James White,” directed by Josh Mond; “Mediterranea,” directed by Jonas Carpignano.

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