IFP/New York has announced its nominees for the Gotham Awards newest addition – a Best Film category. The inclusion of two “best of the year” categories is timed to coincide with the show’s date change from September to December 1st. IFP/New York enlisted the support of established critics and programmers to select a total of 10 Best Film nominees (five features and five documentaries) in order to recognize and celebrate the artistic excellence attainable through more filmmaker-driven filmmaking. Nominees are listed below. One feature and one documentary winner will be selected by jury and announced live at the Gotham Awards ceremony taking place at PIER SIXTY, Chelsea Piers. The show will be aired live on IFC.
IFP/New York also announced its final line-up of tributes as part of this year’s 14th Annual Gotham Awards gala. The Filmmaker Award for Lifetime Achievement will be presented to veteran London-based director Mike Leigh, fresh on the heels of his well-received current release “Vera Drake,” starring the incomparable Imelda Staunton. “Vera Drake” is currently in release by Fine Line Features and both Leigh and Staunton were respectively honored with the Golden Lion for Best Film and Best Actress during the Venice Film Festival. Receiving the Industry Lifetime Achievement Award will be Dan Talbot, the venerable exhibitor and distributor behind New Yorker Films and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas who is singularly responsible for introducing New York and subsequently US audiences to some of the world’s leading international directors, including: Pedro Almodovar, Abbas Kiarostami, Krzysztof Kieslowski and Ousmane Sembene.
Best Film Nominees
Ten films have been selected as nominees for the Gothams’ first-ever Best Film Nominees — 5 Features and 5 Documentaries have been identified.
Before Sunset, the eighth film from Richard Linklater (“School of Rock,” “Waking Life,” “The Newton Boys,” “Suburbia,” “Before Sunrise,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Slacker”) and his reprise of working with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy on the characters they developed in “Before Sunrise” (Warner Independent Pictures and Castle Rock)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, director Michel Gondry’s second feature and second collaboration on a script by Charlie Kaufman (“Human Nature”) stars Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo and Elijah Wood. (Focus Features)
I © Huckabees, the fourth film from writer and director David O. Russell (“Three Kings,” “Flirting With Disaster,” “Spanking the Monkey”) stars Dustin Hoffman, Isabelle Huppert, Jude Law, Jason Schwartzman, Lily Tomlin, Mark Wahlberg and Naomi Watts. (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Primer, the feature debut of writer and director Shane Carruth that won the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Award for films dealing with science and technology. (ThinkFilm)
Sideways, the fourth film from writer and director Alexander Payne (“About Schmidt,” “Election,” “Citizen Ruth”) starring Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh. (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
The Agronomist, from Jonathan Demme, the Academy Award winning director of more than 20 films (ThinkFilm in association with HBO Cinemax Documentary Films)
Bright Leaves, from the veteran director Ross McElwee (“Sherman’s March”) (First Run Features)
Fahrenheit 9/11, directed by Academy Award winner Michael Moore (Lions Gate Films and IFC Films and The Fellowship Adventure Group)
In the Realms of the Unreal, from Academy Award-winning director Jessica Yu (“Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien”) (Wellspring)
Tarnation, the directorial debut of Jonathan Caouette (Wellspring)
“Why another “Best Feature or Documentary” award we’ve been asked,” says Michelle Byrd, Executive Director of IFP/New York. “With our date change we thought we could expand our basic Gothams tribute concept and give a nod toward our proximity to awards season. We believe that filmmaking that is more firmly in the grasp of filmmakers, and not made by committee, is the type of work that IFP/New York should celebrate. With that as our guide, we decided to take a page from the subjectivity found in the film festival jury process. Our approach was simple – take all filmmaker-driven works – whether they are “truly indie” independent, studio specialty division “independent” or studio-based passion projects from writer/directors – and consider them relative to each other. It made for an interesting conversation with our selection team of critics and programmers who are used to this approach from crafting their own annual Top 10 lists. The winners will also be selected by jury, not our membership base.”
Mike Leigh, Filmmaker Award for Lifetime Achievement
As previously announced, the new mandate for the Gothams is to establish New York as a platform upon which filmmaking excellence within New York, Los Angeles and the international community can be celebrated annually. The Gothams first-ever international recipient is Mike Leigh, the legendary writer and director, renowned for his naturalistic approach to rehearsing and workshopping material with actors prior to cameras rolling.
“We couldn’t be more delighted to celebrate not only Leigh’s lengthy career, but to do so at a time when he has one of his finest films in release,” says Byrd. “It is a particularly unique opportunity for us to pay a debt of gratitude to Leigh’s tremendous influence on the numerous American independent filmmakers whom he has inspired with his thoughtful and inclusive process of working with actors through the rehearsal process and the development of their characters. “Vera Drake” is a masterpiece and it’s a moving testament by a veteran filmmaker at the peak of his career.”
Leigh has been nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Screenplay for “Topsy Turvy” (1999) and Best Directing and Best Screenplay for “Secrets and Lies” (1996). One of contemporary Britain’s most renowned directors, Leigh’s international breakthrough came in 1993 with “Naked,” a disturbing, relentlessly bleak account of the misanthropic wanderings of a philosophy-spewing drifter (David Thewlis). “Naked” was rewarded lavishly at the Cannes Festival, where Thewlis won Best Actor and Leigh was honored with the festival’s Best Director prize. Even more acclaimed was Leigh’s subsequent film “Secrets & Lies” (1996), a family drama surrounding the relationship between a young woman (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) and her biological mother (Brenda Blethyn) who gave her up for adoption at birth. Blethyn and Jean-Baptiste were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress Oscars, respectively, and Blethyn received a Best Actress Golden Globe. Blethyn also won the Best Actress prize at Cannes, where the film won the Palme d’Or. “Secrets & Lies” also earned a slew of additional honors, including a Best Film BAFTA Award. In 1999, Leigh was nominated for Best Screenplay for “Topsy-Turvy,” a biographical comedy about famed 19th-century opera composers Gilbert and Sullivan featuring Jim Broadbent (who won the Venice Film Festival’s Volpi Cup for his portrayal of Gilbert), Timothy Spall, and Lesley Manville.
Leigh joins the ranks of such previous Gotham Awards Lifetime Achievement recipients as Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep and Martin Scorsese.
Dan Talbot, Industry Lifetime Achievement Award
Talbot is credited for introducing classic foreign language films and American independents to the US marketplace via New Yorker Films and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, the preeminent and earliest commercial art house multi-plex.
“In considering this year’s New York industry honoree, we turned to some of our previous honorees, including Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcie Bloom, Focus Features’ David Linde and former United Artist topper Bingham Ray to select the person whose indelible mark has not only been left on the New York industry, but on foreign language and American independent cinema nationwide,” says Byrd. “With more than 40 years as an acknowledged taste maker and cinema lover, the hands down response was Dan Talbot, whom they credited as introducing countless directors to new audiences throughout his four decades in distribution and exhibition.”
As a born and raised New Yorker, Dan Talbot’s New Yorker Films, an independent film distribution company, has been making its mark on the industry for nearly four decades. Since its inception in 1965, New Yorker Films has distributed new works by foreign and American filmmakers including Robert Bresson’s “Pickpocket,” Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “The Marriage of Maria Braun,” Werner Herzog’s “Aguirre, The Wrath of God,” Claude Lanzmann’s “Shoah,” Louis Malle’s “My Dinner with Andre,” Wayne Wang’s “Chan Is Missing,” and many more. Talbot, who was schooled in Literature at New York University and started his career as an editor at a publishing house, naturally followed his inclination for film. In 1959, he published Film: An Anthology and became a film critic for The Progressive, a liberal magazine for peace and social justice. After his brief work as a critic, Talbot opened the New Yorker Theater in 1960, which began as a repertory cinema and later premiered independent films by Yasujiro Ozu, Jean-Luc Godard, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Bernardo Bertolucci, Andrzej Wajda, Federico Fellini and others. In 1964, Talbot became a filmmaker when he worked as Producer of “Point of Order,” a documentary on the collapse of McCarthyism. He sold the New Yorker Cinema in 1973, but continued his work with the independent film community. He opened Cinema Studios in 1975, operated the Metro (a repertory cinema) in the early 1980s and opened Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in 1981. Currently, Talbot is the President of New Yorker Films and the owner-operator of Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.
“Dan Talbot is the closest thing to a great institution in New York City that the independent film community can claim as its own,” says Michael Barker, Co-president of Sony Pictures Classics. “He energized film exhibition in New York City with The New Yorker Theater in the 60’s, the cinema Studio and the Metro in the 70’s and 80’s, and now the Lincoln Plaza from the 80’s and continuing today. In doing so, Dan has also been key to the revitalization of the Upper West Side of Manhattan over the last 40 years. As a distributor, he has released films by some of the world’s most important and respected directors. When we try to define the best in independent film, the starting place is Dan Talbot.”
Major sponsors for the IFP Gotham Awards include: IFC, Target, Variety, Acura, The New York Times, and Focus Features.
The Gotham Awards gala is New York’s annual film tribute and awards ceremony, presented by IFP/New York. The Gotham Awards allow IFP/New York to acknowledge a wide breadth of talent, both local and international, and honor New York’s position as a thriving creative community.