Spirit Awards Broadcast Disrupted by Pro-Palestinian Protester With Speaker; Chants Drown Out Presenters and Winners

This year’s Independent Spirit Awards faced a major broadcast hurdle as a Pro-Palestinian protestor with a speaker and a prerecorded message blared out many of the presenters and winners onstage.

The protestor became obvious to at-home audiences when Jim Gaffigan presented “Jury Duty” the award for best ensemble cast in a new scripted series. The rhythm of Gaffigan’s introduction was stilted as microphones picked up the muffled messaging from outside.

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The sound created a stir in the audience at the ceremony, as it was louder than the show itself, with some leaving the show to see what the commotion was. Several people, including security and producers, approached the man with the speaker and another man with him, but the protest didn’t stop. Security then moved a shuttle bus in front of the protestors, driving forward and in reverse to block them and try to muffle the sound.

The disruption was commented on several times during the ceremony, with host Aidy Bryant first commenting, “Look, we are at the beach, and people are practicing their freedom of speech.”

Later, presenter Jimmy O. Yang quipped about the “heckler,” saying, “We’re a bunch of people making indie films — we’re used to getting yelled at. It’s comforting, it’s like my childhood.”

Later, “Fremont” director Babak Jalali was distracted by the protest while accepting the John Cassavetes award.

“There are people outside,” he said. “I don’t know what they’re saying, but whatever they’re saying is probably a lot more important than what I’m about to say. I’m so inspired by what they are saying outside that I can’t think about what to say.”

Before the ceremony, the protestors were in the crowd with fans during arrivals, shouting, “Ceasefire now! Free Palestine.”

Additional reporting by Marc Malkin, Clayton Davis and Zack Sharf

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