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Barry Jenkins if Beale street could talk
courtesy of Instagram/@bandrybarry

Barry Jenkins dedicates his Spirit Award to the women behind Beale Street

If Beale Street Could Talk picked up three wins at the ceremony

Last night (February 23) was the night of the 34th Independent Spirit Awards, a diverse and slightly more casual show that acts as an alternative to tomorrow’s Oscars. Boots Riley’s Sorry To Bother You picked up an award in the Best First Feature category, while Glenn Close took home Best Female Lead for her role in The Wife (a win that looks like it could be repeated tomorrow).

Barry JenkinsIf Beale Street Could Talk kind of stole the show, though, with three big wins last night: Best Feature, Best Director, and Best Supporting Female (for Regina King, who is also a favourite for the Oscars).

Notably, Barry Jenkins focused on the women behind If Beale Street Could Talk – and in the film industry as a whole – in his acceptance speech. “I didn’t want to  win this,” he said, before thanking all of the women whose work had gone into the film and who “made it what it was”.

Jenkins also called out the underrepresentation of women in the film industry, saying that women only make up 4% of studio directors and challenging the producers, directors, and financiers in the room to be more inclusive (a challenge that originated with Regina King).

All of this emphasis on women and their struggles and successes at the Independent Spirit Awards – where three of the five Best Director nominees were women – stands in stark contrast to the apparent snubbing of female directors at the Oscars, where the Best Director category is all male.