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‘Zola’ dominates the Independent Spirit Award nominations

This image released by A24 shows Riley Keough, left, and Taylour Paige in a scene from "Zola."
This image released by A24 shows Riley Keough, left, and Taylour Paige in a scene from "Zola."   -   Copyright  Anna Kooris/A24 via AP
By Amber Bryce  with AP

The 2022 Film Independent Spirit Awards were announced on Tuesday, with a leading seven nominations going to Janicza Bravo’s wild road trip saga 'Zola', including best feature, best director and best female lead for Taylour Paige.

'The Novice,' a sports drama and psychological thriller from first-time filmmaker Lauren Hadaway, followed with five.

The nominations for the 37th edition of the awards were announced by Naomi Watts, Regina Hall and Beanie Feldstein via a livestream broadcast on YouTube.

What is Zola about?

'Zola' is a dark comedy based on the 2015 viral twitter thread by A’Ziah King.

It tells the story of a stripper named Zola, who embarks on a road trip-gone wrong in Tampa, Florida.

Directed by Janicza Bravo, the film stars Taylour Paige as Zola, and Riley Keough as Stefanie, a fellow dancer Zola befriends.

Colman Domingo also stars as Stefanie’s pimp, while Nicholas Braun of 'Succession' fame plays Stefanie’s out of place boyfriend, Derrek.

The film has been lauded for its candy-hued aesthetic, authentic performances and commentary on race, sex trafficking and agency within sex work.

Other Spirit Award nominations

'Zola' was nominated for best feature alongside 'The Novice,' the Italian-language drama 'A Chiara,' 'C’mon C’mon,' about a young boy and his uncle, and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Elena Ferrante adaptation, 'The Lost Daughter,' a meditation on motherhood and rage.

'Wild Indian,' a thriller about a long-ago murder of a classmate from another first-time filmmaker Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr., also got four nominations.

Nominees for female lead include Paige ('Zola'), Isabelle Fuhrman ('The Novice'), Brittany S. Hall ('Test Pattern'), Patti Harrison ('Together Together') and Kali Reis ('Catch the Fair One').

Male lead nominees are Clifton Collins Jr. ('Jockey'), Frankie Faison ('The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain'), Michael Greyeyes ('Wild Indian'), Udo Kier ('Swan Song') and Simon Rex ('Red Rocket').

It was a good morning overall for 'Zola' studio and distributor A24, whose films received a total of 13 nominations.

A24's slate included 'The Humans,' Mike Mills' 'C'mon C'mon,' which got best director and screenplay, and the past-his-prime adult entertainer drama 'Red Rocket.'

Meanwhile, Neon, which distributed 'A Chiara' and 'Pig,' and Netflix, which is behind 'Passing' and 'The Lost Daughter,' both got nine.

What makes these awards different from the Oscars and Golden Globes?

Founded in 1984, The Film Independent Spirit Awards celebrate independent filmmakers that used a budget of less than $22.5 million (€20 million).

Historically, the ceremony is held on the Saturday afternoon before the Oscars, but this year it will take place on the evening of March 6 2022, a few weeks before the Oscars on March 27.

After going virtual earlier this year, the show is returning to an in-person event, beachside in Santa Monica, California.