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All the Buzz on Film Festival Awards, Celebrity Tributes and the Film Awards Season.

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New York's Biggest Film Party Hands Out Its Awards

Friday, December 1-----The Gotham Awards, held in a former luxury cruise line docking pier on the Hudson River, has become New York's biggest film party. Now in its 16th year, it has established a reputation and a following among the indie film world, particularly filmmakers, executives and talent that call New York home. It has reorganized in the past year (after splitting with the former IFP West, which presents the Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles over Oscar weekend), putting greater emphasis on its Best Film and other categories. The Gothams want to be part of the official awards season, and this year they more than succeeded.

The Awards were hosted by comedian David Cross, and for the first time, will be webcast by IFILM.COM beginning on December 4, and broadcast in its entirety on local New York station WNYC-TV on December 6. A total of 12 awards were presented, including six Gotham Awards Tributes for career achievement.

The six competitive awards honoring this year’s most innovative films and talent were presented in the categories of Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor, Best Ensemble Cast, and the Gothams’ trademark honor, Best Film Not Playing At A Theater Near You. The juries convened to determine the winners were comprised of actors, directors, producers and others involved directly in making films.

16TH ANNUAL GOTHAM AWARDS

Best Feature presented by Isabella Rossellini
HALF NELSON

Ryan Fleck, director; Jamie Patricof, Alex Orlovsky, Lynette Howell, Anna Boden, Rosanne Korenberg, producers (ThinkFilm)

The 2006 Gotham Awards Best Feature Jury included: actors Sarita Choudhury and Willem Dafoe, casting director Avy Kaufman, producer Jon Kilik and director Bennett Miller.

Best Documentary presented by Rosie Perez and Chazz Palminteri
IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS

James Longley, director; James Longley, John Sinno, producers (Typecast Releasing in association with HBO Documentary Films)

The 2006 Gotham Awards Best Documentary Jury included: director of photography Maryse Alberti, directors Fenton Bailey, Eugene Jarecki and Penelope Spheeris, and editor/producer Samuel Pollard.

Breakthrough Director Award presented by Jennifer Jason Leigh
Ryan Fleck for HALF NELSON (ThinkFilm)

The 2006 Gotham Awards Breakthrough Director jury included: directors Atom Egoyan and Paul Schrader, actors and Chiwetel Ejiofer and Annabella Sciorra and actor/director Stanley Tucci.

Breakthrough Actor Award presented by Billy Baldwin
Shareeka Epps in HALF NELSON (ThinkFilm) AND Rinko Kikuchi in BABEL (Paramount Vantage)

The Jury for the 2006 Gotham Awards Breakthrough Actor Award included: actors Ellen Barkin, Jennifer Jason Leigh and, actor/directors Jon Favreau and Liev Schreiber, director John Singleton and casting director Cindy Tolan.

Best Ensemble Cast Award presented by Sarita Choudhury and Annabella Sciorra
BABEL

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Cast: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Kôji Yakusho, Adriana Barraza, Rinko Kikuchi, Said Tarchani, Boubker Ait El Caid (Paramount Vantage)

The 2006 Gotham Awards Best Ensemble Cast Jury included: directors Miguel Arteta and Neil LaBute, actors Billy Baldwin and S Epatha Merkerson and casting director Kerry Barden.

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Award presented by Parker Posey and Alessandro Nivola
CHOKING MAN

Steve Barron, director; Joshua Zeman, Zachary Mortensen, producers

The editors of Filmmaker magazine selected the winner of the Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Award.

GOTHAM AWARDS TRIBUTES
In addition to the competitive awards, the Gotham Awards presented Tributes to:

A highlight of the proceedings however are the Tributes, which are given to persons for their body of work or their contributions to the field. This year, Gotham got it right. Kate Winslet, a luminous actress who seems to be able to play any part, was recognized. She has gotten the best reviews of her career for her intuitive performance in LITTLE CHILDREN, directed by Todd Field. She now seems poised for Best Actress nominations across the board, from the Oscar to the Golden Globe to the BAFTA Award. Presenting the prize to Ms. Winslet was her director Todd Field.

The other actor honoree, Edward Norton, is an "actor's actor" who incarnates the characters he plays. Norton has scored an unexpected box office hit, for his moody and expressionist performance as the master magician in THE ILLUSIONIST, a true indie sleeper. The film should appear on major Top Ten lists in the coming weeks, and could surprise the industry with several key nominations. Presenting the award to Mr. Norton was John Curran.

Director Stephen Soderberg presented the tribute to producers/media moguls Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban, whose 2929 Entertainment (GOODBYE AND GOOD LUCK), indie distribution arm Magnolia Pictures, arthouse theater chain Landmark Theaters, and hd ventures (HDNet, HDNetFilms) are revolutionizing the making and distribution of film product.

Veteran cinematographer Ellen Kuras, whose brilliant contributions to such films as ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, COFFEE AND CIGARETTES, THE 25TH HOUR and I SHOT ANDY WARHOL made their imagery so memorable, was presented her award by director Sam Mendes.

For the Gothams' first World Cinema tribute, the award was given to the amazing trio of Mexican directors who have influenced their own and worldwide cinema, Alfonso Cuarón (Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN), Guillermo del Toro (PAN'S LABYRINTH) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (AMORES PERROS, 21 GRAMS, BABEL). The awards were presented by actress Mira Sorvino.

A high point of the festivities was the presentation of the Gotham Awards Humanitarian Tribute to actor/director/activist Tim Robbins, a fierceless actor who is heavily engaged in progressive politics as well. The award was presented by his good friend and frequent co-star Sean Penn.

Truly a starry-eyed turnout, with proceeds from the fundraiser going to help the Independent Feature Project (IFP) throughout the year in with its various programs to assist, inform and be spokespersons for the interests of independent filmmakers nationwide. Hats off to all.....


Sandy Mandelberger
Awards Watch Editor

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All the Buzz on Film Festival Awards, Celebrity Tributes and the Film Awards Season.


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