SAGindie returned this year as a premier sponsor of the annual FILM INDEPENDENT DIRECTORS CLOSE-UP series. This year’s virtual edition – tied to the 2021 Spirit Awards – took place from March 3 – April 21 and featured nominated filmmakers from an array of Spirits categories to talk about their craft (SAGindie’s Darrien Michele Gipson moderated one of the panels!).

In case you missed out, we’ve got the schedule and video highlights below!


March 3 – The Spirit of Independence: Directors Roundtable


  • Lee Isaac Chung (writer/director, Minari)
  • Emerald Fennell (writer/director, Promising Young Woman)
  • Eliza Hittman (writer/director, Never Rarely Sometimes Always)
  • Kelly Reichardt (writer/director, First Cow)
  • Chloé Zhao (writer/director/editor, Nomadland)
  • Moderated by Josh Welsh (President, Film Independent)


March 10 – Small Screen, Big Picture: TV Creators


  • Lee Eisenberg (creator, Little America)
  • Emily V. Gordon (creator, Little America)
  • Steve McQueen (creator, Small Axe)
  • Kumail Nanjiani (creator, Little America)
  • Anna Winger (creator, Unorthodox)
  • Moderated by Wendy Calhoun (producer/writer, Prodigal Son)


March 17 – A Different Type of Narrative, Pt. 1 – Feature Documentaries


  • Maite Alberdi (writer/director, The Mole Agent)
  • Garrett Bradley (director, Time)
  • Kirsten Johnson (writer/director, Dick Johnson is Dead)
  • James LeBrecht (writer/director, Crip Camp)
  • Alexander Nanau (writer/director, Collective)
  • Nicole Newnham (writer/director, Crip Camp)
  • Moderated by Morgan Neville (director, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?)


March 17 – A Different Type of Narrative, Pt. 2 – Documentary Series


  • Maro Chermayeff (director/EP, Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children)
  • Christine Clusiau (co-director, Immigration Nation)
  • Heidi Ewing (co-director, Love Fraud)
  • Rachel Grady (co-director, Love Fraud)
  • Steve James (director, City So Real)
  • Peter LoGreco (executive producer/director, We’re Here)
  • Sam Pollard (director/EP, Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children)
  • Shaul Schwarz (co-director, Immigration Nation)
  • Moderated by Eric Deggans (TV Critic, National Public Radio)


March 24 – Your First Time: The Director’s Debut


  • Radha Blank (writer/director/actor, The Forty-Year-Old Version)
  • Heidi Ewing (co-writer/director, I Carry You With Me)
  • Darius Marder (co-writer/director, Sound of Metal)
  • Edson Oda (writer/director, Nine Days)
  • Channing Godfrey Peoples (writer/director, Miss Juneteenth)
  • Moderated by Darrien Michele Gipson (Executive Director, SAGindie)


March 31 – On the Global Screen: International Filmmakers


  • Juliano Dornelles (co-writer/co-director, Bacurau)
  • Lili Horvát (writer/director, Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time)
  • Philippe Lacôte (writer/director, Night of the Kings)
  • Kleber Mendonça Filho (co-writer/co-director, Bacurau)
  • Chaitanya Tamhane (writer/director, The Disciple)
  • Jasmila Žbanić (writer/director, Quo Vadis, Aida?)
  • Moderated by Javier Fuentes-León (writer/director, The Vanished Elephant)


April 7 – From Page to Screen: Writing and Directing


  • Kitty Green (writer/director, The Assistant)
  • Noah Hutton (writer/director, Lapsis)
  • Mike Makowsky (writer, Bad Education)
  • Andy Siara (writer, Palm Springs)
  • James Sweeney (writer/director, Straight Up)
  • Alice Wu (writer/director, The Half of It)
  • Moderated by Shelby Stone (executive producer, The Chi)


April 21 – The Spirit of Cassavetes: Making a Low-Budget Movie


  • Merawi Gerima (writer/director, Residue)
  • Robert Machoian (writer/director, The Killing of Two Lovers)
  • Kelly O’Sullivan (writer/actor, Saint Frances)
  • Isabel Sandoval (writer/director, Lingua Franca)
  • Alex Thompson (director, Saint Frances)
  • Patricia Vidal Delgado (writer/director, La Leyenda Negra)
  • Moderated by Andrew Ahn (director, Driveways)

Film Independent Directors Close-Up 2021 was sponsored by Premier Sponsors Directors Guild of America (DGA) and SAGindie, Supporting Sponsor Sony Cinema Line and Film Independent Spirit Awards Premier Sponsors Genesis and IFC


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