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IFP Gotham Awards Announce Nominees

Friday, November 24----The Independent Feature Project (IFP), the membership organization that represents the interests of independent filmmakers across the United States, has announced the nominees for its 16th IFP Gotham Awards, which will be given out at a gala Awards Ceremony on November 29th in New York City. The event, which was begun in 1991 as a way of recognizing New York-based independent producers and distributors and their films, also serves as a major fundraiser for the organization.

This year's nominees for Best Picture include THE DEPARTED(director, Martin Scorsese), HALF NELSON (Ryan Fleck), LITTLE CHILDREN (Todd Field), MARIE ANTOINETTE (Sofia Coppola) and OLD JOY (Kelly Reichadt).

The nominations, which were announced on October 23rd, have generated considerable controversy in indie circles in New York. The mix of films up for the prize comprises an uneasy mix of Hollywood big-budget films that will undoubtedly be nominated for Academy Awards this season and classically indie titles. The budget range from less than $2 million for the indie sleeper OLD JOY to nearly $80 million for Martin Scorsese's latest blockbuster, which stars Leonard Di Caprio, Jack Nicholson and Matt Damon.

"How can you compare the films in this group?", one prominent distributor (who wished not to be named) asked. "For years, the purpose of the Gotham Awards were to honor smaller films that made the leap into wider public acceptance. This year's group includes films that already had a wide release and will be competing for Oscars. What's the point?".

A total of 148 films were submitted to the nominating committee, which included film critics John Anderson, Karen Durbin, Stephen Garrett and Lisa Schwarzbaum. In its public announcement, the IFP stated that its main criteria for nomination is "the authentic voices behind and in front of the camera in films made this year."

The nominations for Best Documentary are more classically independent in nature. They include: AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH (director, Davis Guggenheim), DELIVER US FROM EVIL (Amy Berg), FOLLOWING SEAN (Ralph Arlyck), IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS (James Longley) and JONESTOWN: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PEOPLES TEMPLE (Stanley Nelson).

The Gotham Awards will be filled with many Career Tributes. The actress Kate Winslet, who is receiving some of the best reviews of her career for her performance in LITTLE CHILDREN, will be honored.

In addition, Edward Norton, the Oscar-nominated actor who scored a sleeper hit this year with THE ILLUSIONIST, will also be honored for career achievement.

New this year is the World Cinema Tribute, which honors the Mexican directors Alfonso Cuaron (CHILDREN OF MEN), Guillermo del Toro (PAN'S LABYRINTH) and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (BABEL).

From the industry side, the Producers Tribute will be given to Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban, partners in Wagner/Cuban Companies, which owns Landmark Theaters, 2929 Productions, Magnolia Pictures, HDNet Films and the cable networks, HDNet and HDNet Movies.

Smaller films are certainly not being ignored this year. In a category unceremoniously dubbed BEST FILM NOT PLAYING AT A THEATER NEAR YOU, 5 indie titles will compete, including CHOKING MAN (director, Steve Barron), COLMA: THE MUSICAL (Richard Wong), IN BETWEEN DAYS (So Young Kim), THE GREAT HAPPINESS SPACE: TALE OF AN OSAKA LIFE THIEF (Jake Clennell) and WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY (Goran Dukic). All five films have been hits on the film festival circuit, but have not yet secured theatrical distribution. The hope is that a win in this category will achieve that alchemy.

Other nominations and award winners will be covered in future articles. Stay tuned.

Sandy Mandelberger
AwardsWatch Editor

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