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Gotham Award Nominees – What you will never see in Oxford

October 21, 2008


Nominees Announced 

 The big news when IFP announced the nominees was that Lance Hammer’s Ballast about the Mississippi Delta, starring a Missisippi cast and crew received four nominations including Best Feature,  Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor and Best Ensemble Performance. 


Six titles also received two nominations each including Afterschool;  Frozen River;  Rachel Getting Married; Synecdoche, New York; Vicky Cristina Barcelona; and The Visitor 


The 18th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards™ will take place on Tuesday, December 2nd  at New York City’s Cipriani Wall Street. It also announced the new name for the awards, as the Gotham Independent Film Awards™. 

Presented by IFP, the nation’s oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers, the Gotham Independent Film Awards™ is one of the leading awards for independent film and the first major honors of the film awards season. The awards provide critical early recognition for worthy independent films, such as past winners Juno (2007), Half Nelson (2006), and Junebug (2005) – all of which went on to earn numerous awards and Oscar™ nominations for their stars Ellen Page, Ryan Gosling, and Amy Adams, respectively.  

Garnering four separate nominations – the most for this year – is Ballast, Lance Hammer’s directorial debut and multiple-award winner from festivals as diverse as Sundance, Berlin, Deauville and others. The film is currently being self-distributed by Hammer’s Alluvial Film Company with the help of marketing consultant Steven Raphael’s Required Viewing. It was nominated for Best Feature, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor and Best Ensemble Performance. 

Six films received two nominations, including Antonio Campos’ directorial debut from Cannes Afterschool; Courtney Hunt’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Frozen River; Jonathan Demme’s current release Rachel Getting Married; Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut from Cannes Synecdoche, New York; Woody Allen’s latest Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Tom McCarthy’s sophomore effort, The Visitor. 

 A total of 22 films received nominations in six categories: Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor, Best Ensemble Performance, and Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You™.  

New this year, the recipient of the Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You™ will receive a cash award of $15,000 provided by Artists Public Domain, the non-profit dedicated to supporting the artistic vision of filmmakers working outside of the commercial mainstream, and D.R. Reiff & Associates Inc., a full service brokerage firm specializing in Arts & Entertainment Insurance. 

“Contradicting the doom and gloom stories about the state of independent film, 2008 has proven to be an extremely strong year for an immensely diverse group of filmmakers tackling a range of subjects and forms in new and dynamic ways,” says Michelle Byrd, executive director of IFP. “Impressively, nearly 50% of our titles are directorial debuts.”  

 IFP previously announced that actor Penélope Cruz, president of HBO Documentary Films’ Sheila Nevins, and filmmakers Gus Van Sant and Melvin Van Peebles will be presented with Tributes at this year’s awards ceremony.   

 Selecting this year’s nominees were 18 critics, journalists, and film programmers (see list below). Final award recipients will be determined by separate juries of writers, directors, actors, producers, casting directors, composers and others directly involved in making films. The recipient of The Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You™ award will be determined by the editors of Filmmaker magazine, a publication of IFP, and a curator from The Museum of Modern Art. 

The 18th Annual Gotham Independent Film Award™ nominees are:  

Best Feature  


Lance Hammer, director; Lance Hammer, Nina Parikh, producers (Alluvial Film Company) 

Frozen River 

Courtney Hunt, director; Heather Rae, Chip Hourihan, producers (Sony Pictures Classics) 

Synecdoche, New York 

Charlie Kaufman, director; Anthony Bregman, Charlie Kaufman, Spike Jonze, Sidney Kimmel, 

producers (Sony Pictures Classics) 

The Visitor 

Tom McCarthy, director; Mary Jane Skalski, Michael London, producers (Overture Films) 

The Wrestler 

Darren Aronofsky, director; Scott Franklin, Darren Aronofsky, producers (Fox Searchlight 



Best Documentary 

Chris & Don: A Love Story 

Guido Santi & Tina Mascara, directors; Julia Scott, Tina Mascara, Guido Santi, James White, 

producers (Zeitgeist Films) 

Encounters at the End of the World 

Werner Herzog, director; Henry Kaiser, producer (THINKFilm / Image Entertainment) 

Man on Wire 

James Marsh, director; Simon Chinn, producer (Magnolia Pictures) 

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired 

Maria Zenovich, director; Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Lila Yacoub, Marina Zenovich, producers 

(THINKFilm in association with HBO Documentaries)

Trouble the Water 

Tia Lessin & Carl Deal, producers/directors (Zeitgeist Films) 


Best Ensemble Performance 


Micheal J. Smith, Sr., JimMyron Ross, Tarra Riggs, Johnny McPhail (Alluvial Film Company) 

Rachel Getting Married 

Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, Tunde Adebimpe, Mather Zickel, Anna Deavere 

Smith, Anisa George, Debra Winger (Sony Pictures Classics) 

Synecdoche, New York 

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener, Emily 

Watson, Dianne Wiest, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hope Davis, Tom Noonan (Sony Pictures Classics) 

Vicky Cristina Barcelona 

Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz (The Weinstein Company) 

The Visitor 

Richard Jenkins, Hiam Abbas, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira (Overture Films) 


Breakthrough Director 

Antonio Campos for Afterschool  

Dennis Dortch for A Good Day to Be Black & Sexy (Magnolia Pictures) 

Lance Hammer for Ballast (Alluvial Film Company) 

Barry Jenkins for Medicine for Melancholy (IFC Films) 

Alex Rivera for Sleep Dealer (Maya Releasing) 


Breakthrough Actor 

 Pedro Castaneda in August Evening (Maya Releasing) 

Rosemarie DeWitt in Rachel Getting Married (Sony Pictures Classics) 

Rebecca Hall in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (The Weinstein Company) 

Melissa Leo in Frozen River (Sony Pictures Classics) 

Alejandro Polanco in Chop Shop (Koch Lorber Films) 

Micheal J. Smith, Sr. in Ballast (Alluvial Film Company) 


Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You™ 


Antonio Campos, director; Josh Mond, Sean Durkin, producers 


Taylor Greeson, producer/director 

 The New Year Parade 

Tom Quinn, director; Steve Beal, Tom Quinn, producers 

 Sita Sings the Blues 

Nina Paley, producer/director 


Jake Mahaffy, director; Jake Mahaffy, Jeff Clark, producers 

The nominating committees for the Gotham Independent Film Awards™ announced above are as follows: 

 Nominating Committee for Best Feature and Best Ensemble Performance: 

Ty Burr, Film Critic, The Boston Globe 

Scott Foundas, Film Editor / Film Critic, LA Weekly 

Dave Karger, Senior Writer, Entertainment Weekly 

Carrie Rickey, Film Critic, The Philadelphia Inquirer 

 Nominating Committee for Breakthrough Director and Breakthrough Actor: 

Cynthia Fuchs, Film Critic, PopMatters and 

Robert Koehler, Film Critic, Variety 

Rob Nelson, Film Critic, Minnesota Post 

Andrew O’Hehir, Senior Writer, 

 Nominating Committee for Best Documentary: 

Cynthia Fuchs, Film Critic, PopMatters and 

Owen Gleiberman, Film Critic, Entertainment Weekly 

Tom Hall, Director of Programming, Sarasota Film Festival 

Ronnie Scheib, Film Critic, Variety 

 Nominating Committee for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You™: 

Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film and Media, Museum of Modern Art; 

and members of the editorial staff of Filmmaker Magazine: Scott Macaulay (Editor-in-Chief), Nick 

Dawson, Mary Glucksman, Jason Guerrasio, Brandon Harris, Ray Pride

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