Producer Teruhisa Yamamoto, accompanied by interpreter Junko Goda, accepts the award for “Drive My Car” during the 2022 Film Independent Spirit Awards on Sunday in Santa Monica. (Associated Press)

Rafu Wire and Staff Reports

Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Drive My Car” was among the winners during Sunday’s presentation of the 2022 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

The Japanese feature — which has also been nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture — won in the Best International Film category. The other nominees were “Pebbles” (India), “Compartment No. 6” (Finland), “Parallel Mothers” (Spain), “Petite Maman” (France) and “Prayers for the Stolen” (Mexico).

The award is traditionally given to the director, but producer Teruhisa Yamamoto accepted the award from actress Jennifer Beals and thanked everyone on behalf of the cast and crew.

“‘Drive My Car’ is a story of souls who have lost loved ones and are on the long road to embracing life again,” Yamamoto said through interpreter Junko Goda. “In the midst of a pandemic, environmental problems and hateful wars, we are all trying to find a small light on the other side of the tunnel to reconnect after being apart for so long, and heal just like the protagonist of the film.

“Thank you again for choosing this film … We are truly grateful to be included in a line of great artists who have been recognized by the Film Independent Spirit Awards. I hope that art will always be the North Star in our souls.”

After being held virtually last year due to COVID-19, the 37th Spirit Awards ceremony was held adjacent to the beach near the Santa Monica Pier and broadcast live on IFC. Husband-and-wife comedic actors Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman hosted the show.

Oscar-winning director Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”) was among those serving as presenters, along with Kristen Stewart, Javier Bardem, Rosario Dawson, Daveed Diggs, Taika Waititi, Bob Odenkirk, Marlee Matlin, Andrew Garfield and Regina Hall.

Other categories in which there was Asian/Asian American representation include:

Best First Feature: “7 Days,” a romantic comedy centering on two Indian American twentysomethings, won the award for director Roshan Sethi and producers Liz Cardenas and Mel Eslyn. Nominees also included producers Pin-Chun Liu and Yu-Hao Su and director Shatara Michelle Ford for “Test Pattern” along with the producers and directors of “Wild Indian,” “Queen of Glory” and “Holler.”

Best Cinematography: Ante Cheng and Matthew Chuang of Justin Chon’s “Blue Bayou,” a drama about a Korean adoptee, were nominated along with Lol Crawley for “The Humans,” Tim Curtin for “A Chiara” and Ari Wegner for “Zola.” The award went to Edu Grau for “Passing.”

Best Documentary: Nanfu Wang was nominated for “In the Same Breath,” which looks at how the American and Chinese governments reacted to the outbreak of COVID-19, along with Robert Greene for “Procession,” Jonas Poher Rasmussen for “Flee” and Jessica Kingdon for “Ascension.” The award went to Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson for “Summer of Soul.”

Truer Than Fiction Award: Debbie Lum was nominated for “Try Harder!,” which follows students at San Francisco’s Lowell High School, along with Angelo Madsen Minax for “North by Current.” The award went to Jessica Beshir for “Faya Dayi.”

Producers Award: Pin-Chun Liu (“No Man of God,” “Hero Mode,” “Paper Tiger”) was nominated along with Brad Becker-Parton (“Terror Contagion,” “Master,” “White Devil”). The award went to Lizzie Shapiro (“Shiva Baby,” “First Date,” “Paris Jackson: Let Down”).

Best New Non-Scripted or Documentary Series: “The Choe Show,” featuring artist David Choe, was nominated along with “The Lady and the Dale,” “Nuclear Family” and “Philly D.A.” The award went to “Black and Missing.”

Best Male Performance in a Scripted Series: Lee Jung-jae of the Korean drama “Squid Game” won. Also nominated: Ollie Alexander for “It’s a Sin,” Murray Bartlett for “The White Lotus,” Michaele Greyeyes for “Rutherford Falls” and Ashley Thomas for “THEM: Covenant.” Lee has also won a Screen Actors Guild Award for the same show.

Best Female Performer in a Scripted Series: Anjana Vasan, a Singaporean actress and singer/songwriter based in London, was nominated for “We Are Lady Parts” along with Jana Schmieding for “Rutherford Falls,” Jasmine Cephas Jones for “Blindspotting” and Deborah Ayorinde for “THEM: Covenant.” The award went to Thuso Mbedu for “The Underground Railroad.”

Founded in 1984, the awards are dedicated to independent filmmakers. In 2020, new categories were announced for television. For a complete list of winners, go to: https://www.filmindependent.org/spirit-awards/

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