UNCSA grad Jeff Nichols is nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for his film "Loving"

Jeff Nichols, an alumnus of the School of Filmmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts has been nominated for a Film Independent Spirit Award for best director for the critically acclaimed “Loving,” which he also wrote.

Nichols is no stranger to the Spirit Awards. His first feature-length film, “Shotgun Stories,” released in 2007, was nominated the John Cassavetes Award for films budgeted at under $500,000. “Take Shelter,” released in 2011, was nominated for best feature and the Robert Altman Award for best ensemble performance. His 2012 release, “Mud,” won the Altman ensemble performance award, and Nichols was nominated for best director.

NIchols and Edgerton

Jeff Nichols, left, directs Joel Edgerton in a scene from "Loving."

The premier awards for the independent film community, the Spirit Awards are offered by Film Independent, a member-driven non-profit organization that champions creative independence in visual storytelling and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision.

“The Spirit Awards are coveted among independent filmmakers because they are being recognized by their peers,” said Film Dean Susan Ruskin. “Jeff Nichols continues to be nominated as one of the finest storytellers in the independent film industry. I’m extremely proud and happy for him.”

“Loving” is the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a Virginia couple arrested for their interracial marriage in the 1960s. Their legal challenge eventually made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Critics have praised Nichols’ treatment of the Lovings’ story. Time Magazine said, “Nichols…tells the Lovings’ story in a way that feels immediate and modern, and not just like a history lesson.”


Nichols hsa been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for "Loving."

The New York Times said, “Mr. Nichols has a way of easing into movies, of letting stories and characters surface obliquely. He captures the era persuasively, embroidering the realism with details like Mildred’s knee-skimming skirts and Richard’s brush-cut hair.”

Nichols was nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival for “Loving”. It won a social justice award at the Hamptons International Film Festival and the “Truly Moving Picture Award” at the Heartland Film Festival.

Ruth Negga, who portrays Mildred Loving, is nominated for the Sprit Award for best female lead.

Spirit Award winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held on the beach near the famous Santa Monica Pier in California at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27. The event will be televised live on IFC, the cable channel devoted to independent film.

Nichols, who received a B.F.A. in 2001, has written and directed each of his five films, including “Midnight Special”, released earlier this year. His films have been nominated for 83 national and international awards and have won 60, including wins at Cannes and Deauville in France, Viennale in Austria, Hamburg in Germany, and Austin Film Festival, Hollywood Film Festival and Newport International Film Festival.

by Lauren Whitaker

December 5, 2016

filter: alumni,filmmaking