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'2007 Independent Spirit Awards' Nominations

by Dave McNary

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Emcee Sarah Silverman at the Independent Spirit Awards

Fox Searchlight's offbeat family comedy, "Little Miss Sunshine" and ThinkFilm's drug-addiction drama, "Half Nelson," picked up five nominations each to lead all contenders for the "2007 Independent Spirit Awards," announced Tuesday, November 28. Don Cheadle and Felicity Huffman announced the nominations in 13 categories at the Sofitel Hotel.

The two pictures each received best feature nominations, joining IFC's "American Gun," First Look's "The Dead Girl" and Picturehouse's "Pan's Labyrinth." Film Independent, which administers the awards, decided last year to limit nominations to films with budgets under $20 million.

The "2007 Independent Spirit Awards" will be revealed the day before the Academy Awards and broadcast live on Saturday, February 24 on IFC (Independent Film Channel) with an edited re-broadcast airing later that evening on AMC. The 'Spirit Awards' ceremony will take place in a tent on the Santa Monica beach, with Sarah Silverman as emcee.

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'Little Miss Sunshine' earned five Spirit Award nominations

"Little Miss Sunshine" is by far the biggest commercial success of the 41 films receiving noms, with $59 million in domestic grosses in four months. The $12 million road trip film also received nominations in the Supporting Actor category for Alan Arkin and Paul Dano, in Directing for Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and for First Screenplay for Michael Arndt.

"Little Miss Sunshine" is "right up the middle of what independent films aspire to," said Ron Yerxa, 'Sunshine' producer in a Daily Variety interview. "It's light but realistic and heartfelt, which is tough to pull off. And I think with 'Half Nelson' doing so well, these two films cover a lot of ground of what independent films should be."

"Half Nelson," with $2.7 million in domestic box office, took nominations in the Lead Actor category for Ryan Gosling and Lead Actress category for Shareeka Epps and dual mentions for Ryan Fleck for Directing and First Screenplay along with Anna Boden.

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Shareeka Epps and Ryan Gosling in 'Half Nelson'

"My job as director and screenwriter was easy because Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps had such great chemistry on and off the screen," Fleck told Daily Variety in an interview. "They made the life shine through the film."

Besides Gosling, nominees for Actor are Aaron Eckhart in Searchlight's "Thank You for Smoking," Edward Norton in Warner Independent's "The Painted Veil," Ahmad Razvi in Films Philos' "Man Push Cart" and Forest Whitaker in "American Gun."

Joining Epps in vying for the Actress prize are Catherine O'Hara in Warner Independent's "For Your Consideration," Elizabeth Reaser in "Sweet Land," Michelle Williams in "Land of Plenty" and Robin Wright Penn in IFC's "Sorry, Haters."

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Robert Altman received a posthumous Best Director

nomination for 'A Prairie Home Companion'

In addition to the helmers for "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Half Nelson," the Directing category pulled in two high-profile names -- the late Robert Altman for Picturehouse's "A Prairie Home Companion" and Steven Soderbergh for Magnolia's "Bubble" -- along with Karen Moncrieff for "The Dead Girl."

A quartet of pictures received three nominations each: "American Gun," "The Dead Girl," First Look's "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" and "Man Push Cart."

Eight films pulled in two mentions apiece: "Four Eyed Monsters," Sony Classics' "Friends With Money," "The Painted Veil," "Pan's Labyrinth," "Sorry, Haters," "Sweet Land," "Thank You for Smoking" and "Wristcutters: A Love Story."

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Best Actor Nominee Aaron Eckhart in 'Thank You for Smoking'

Among distributors, IFC received the most nominations with nine, followed by Searchlight with seven, First Look with six and ThinkFilm with five. IFC president Jonathan Sehring noted the shingle received nominations for half a dozen different movies, including two, "Land of Plenty" and "Sorry, Haters," as part of its First Take slate.

First Take pictures are released day-and-date in theaters and through video-on-demand. "To get recognition for the First Take films, which otherwise would probably not have gotten a theatrical release, is very satisfying," he said.

First Look president Ruth Vitale noted the shingle, which has been revamped over the past year, was able to score half a dozen nominations from two pictures with budgets well under $10 million.

"Both of these -- 'The Dead Girl' and 'A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints' -- are tough calls, so this really helps us establish ourselves as a place that takes risks and is filmmaker-friendly," Vitale added.

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Laura Dern and David Lynch at a press conference for

their collaboration on 'Inland Empire'

A Special Distinction Award was announced for David Lynch and Laura Dern for their collaborative work on "Blue Velvet," "Wild at Heart" and "Inland Empire." In a category designed to herald emerging producers, "Half Nelson" received additional recognition with a nomination for the Axium Producers Award.

The duo of Alex Orlovsky and Jamie Patricof also were nominated for "Point & Shoot" along with Julie Lynn for "Nine Lives" and "10 Items or Less" and the duo of Howard Gertler and Tim Perell for "Shortbus" and "Pizza."

Film Independent will send out ballots January 1 to about 12,000 members of its organization and the Independent Film Project. The 2006 Spirit Awards matched the Oscars only for "Capote" star Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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2007 Independent Spirit Award Nominations
(winners will appear highlighted in red)

Best Feature
(Award given to the Producer)
"American Gun"
Producer: Ted Kroeber

"The Dead Girl"
Producers: Tom Rosenberg, Henry Winterstern, Gary Lucchesi, Richard Wright, Eric Karten, Kevin Turen

"Half Nelson"
Producers: Jamie Patricof, Alex Orlovsky, Lynette Howell, Anna Boden, Rosanne Korenberg


"Little Miss Sunshine"
Producers: Marc Turtletaub, David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf, Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa


"Pan's Labyrinth"
Producers: Bertha Navarro, Alfonso Cuaron, Frida Torresblanco, Alvaro Augustin, Guillermo Del Toro


Best First Feature
(Award given to the Director and Producer)
"Day Night Day Night"
Director: Julia Loktev
Producers: Julia Loktev, Melanie Judd and Jessica Levin


"Man Push Cart"
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Producers: Ramin Bahrani, Pradip Ghosh and Bedford T. Bentley III


"The Motel"
Director: Michael Kang
Producers: Matthew Greenfield, Miguel Arteta, Gina Kwon and Karin Chien


"Sweet Land"
Director: Ali Selim
Producers: Alan Cumming, James Bigham and Ali Selim


"Wristcutters: A Love Story"
Director: Goran Dukic
Producers: Adam Sherman, Chris Coen, Tatiana Kelly, Mikal P. Lazarev


Best Director
Robert Altman ~ "A Prairie Home Companion"
Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris ~ "Little Miss Sunshine"
Ryan Fleck ~ "Half Nelson"
Karen Moncrieff ~ "The Dead Girl"
Steven Soderbergh ~ "Bubble"


Best Male Lead
Aaron Eckhart ~ "Thank You For Smoking"
Ryan Gosling ~ "Half Nelson"
Edward Norton ~ "The Painted Veil"
Ahmad Razvi ~ "Man Push Cart"
Forest Whitaker ~ "American Gun"


Best Female Lead
Shareeka Epps ~ "Half Nelson"
Catherine O'Hara ~ "For Your Consideration"
Elizabeth Reaser ~ "Sweet Land"
Michelle Williams ~ "Land of Plenty"
Robin Wright Penn ~ "Sorry, Haters"


Best Supporting Male
Alan Arkin ~ "Little Miss Sunshine"
Raymond J. Barry ~ "Steel City"
Daniel Craig ~ "Infamous"
Paul Dano ~ "Little Miss Sunshine"
Channing Tatum ~ "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"


Best Supporting Female
Melonie Diaz ~ "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"
Marcia Gay Harden ~ "American Gun"
Mary Beth Hurt ~ "The Dead Girl"

Frances McDormand ~ "Friends with Money"
Amber Tamblyn ~ "Stephanie Daley"

Best Screenplay
Neil Burger ~ "The Illusionist"
Nicole Holofcener ~ "Friends with Money"
Ron Nyswaner ~ "The Painted Veil"

Jason Reitman ~ "Thank You For Smoking"
Jeff Stanzler ~ "Sorry, Haters"

Best First Screenplay
Michael Arndt ~ "Little Miss Sunshine"
Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck ~ "Half Nelson"
Goran Dukic ~ "Wristcutters: A Love Story"
Dito Montiel ~ "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"
Gabrielle Zevin ~ "Conversations with Other Women"


Best Cinematography
Arin Crumley ~ "Four Eyed Monsters"
Anthony Dod Mantle ~ "Brothers of the Head"

Guillermo Navarro ~ "Pan's Labyrinth"
Aaron Platt ~ "Wild Tigers I Have Known"
Michael Simmonds ~ "Man Push Cart"


John Cassavetes Award
(Given to the Best Feature made for under $500,000)
(Award given to the Writer, Director and Producer)
"Chalk"
Director: Mike Akel
Producers: Mike Akel, Angela Alvarez, Graham Davidson and Chris Mass
Writers: Chris Mass and Mike Akel


"Four Eyed Monsters"
Writers/Directors/Producers: Arin Crumley and Susan Buice

"Old Joy"
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Producers: Lars Knudsen, Jay Van Hoy, Anish Savjani and Neil Kopp
Writers: Jon Raymond and Kelly Reichardt


"Quinceanera"
Writers/Directors: Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland
Producer: Anne Clements


"Twelve and Holding"
Director: Michael Cuesta
Producers: Leslie Urdang, Michael Cuesta, Brian Bell and Jenny Schweitzer
Writer: Anthony S. Cipriano


Best Documentary
(Award given to the Director)
"A Lion in the House"
Directors: Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert

"My Country, My Country"
Director: Laura Poitras


"The Road to Guantanamo"
Directors: Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross


"The Trials of Darryl Hunt"
Directors: Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern

"You're Gonna Miss Me"
Director: Keven McAlester


Best Foreign Film
(Award given to the Director)
"12:08 East of Bucharest"
(Romania)
Director: Corneliu Porumboiu

"The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros"
(Philippines)
Director: Auraeus Solito

"Chronicle of an Escape"
(Argentina)
Director: Israel Adrian Caetano

"Days of Glory"
(France/Morocco/Algeria/Belgium)
Director: Rachid Bouchareb


"The Lives of Others"
(Germany)
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck


Special Awards

Special Distinction Award
David Lynch and Laura Dern

IFC/Acura Someone to Watch Award
So Yong Kim
Director, "In Between Days"


Julia Loktev
Director, "Day Night Day Night"


Richard Wong
Director, "Colma: The Musical"


Axium Truer Than Fiction Award
Adele Horn
"The Tailenders"


Eric Daniel Metzgar
"The Chances of the World Changing"

AJ Schnack
"Kurt Cobain About A Son"


Axium Producers Award
Julie Lynn
Producer, "Nine Lives" and "10 Items or Less"

Alex Orlovsky and Jamie Patricof
Producers, "Half Nelson" and "Point & Shoot"


Howard Gertler and Tim Perell
Producers, "Shortbus" and "Pizza"
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  • 2 months later...

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'Sunshine' Brightens Spirit Awards

by Dave McNary

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'Little Miss Sunshine' won top honors at the '2007 Spirit Awards'

"Little Miss Sunshine" turned on the heat Saturday, February 24 at the Independent Spirit Awards, winning top feature, directing for Jonathan Daytor and Valerie Faris, first screenplay for Michael Arndt and Best Supporting Actor for Alan Arkin.

Fox Searchlight's little film, 'Sunshine,' dominated the awards, announced in afternoon ceremonies in a tent on Santa Monica Beach, with its quartet of wins. Thinkfilm's entry, "Half Nelson," was the only other film to garner more than one award as Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps took the respective Male and Female Lead Actor Awards.

"Little Miss Sunshine," the top box office performer among indies last year with worldwide grosses of $95 million, topped "Half-Nelson," IFC's "American Gun," First Look's "The Dead Girl" and Picturehouse's "Pan's Labyrinth" in the Best Feature category.

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Ryan Gosling won the Best Actor statue for 'Half Nelson'

The win maintains recent awards-season momentum for the dysfuctional family comedy following victories at the Producers Guild, Screen Actors Guild for Top Ensemble and Writers Guild for Best Original Screenplay. As with the PGA Award, the 'Spirit Award' for "Little Miss Sunshine" went to all five producers.

Of the five producers -- David Friendly, Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa -- the latter two producers have been excluded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences from receiving an Oscar should 'Sunshine' win the Best Picture Oscar due to the AMPAS rule limiting the number of recognized producers to three.

"Little Miss Sunshine" could join "Platoon" as the only 'Spirit Award' feature winners to also take home the Academy Award for Best Picture. Last year's 'Spirit' winner, "Brokeback Mountain," lost out Best Picture Oscar to "Crash," which also won the 'Spirit Award's' Best First Feature trophy.

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Frances McDormand earned Best Supporting Actress kudos for

her role as Jane in 'Friends with Money'

"Little Miss Sunshine" and "Half-Nelson" had led the 'Spirit' nominations with five each. Arkin topped castmate Paul Dano for his Supporting Actor trophy. Jason Reitman won the Screenplay trophy for "Thank You for Smoking," giving Searchlight five of the 13 awards.

Sony Classics took three trophies, winning for Frances McDormand in the Supporting Actress category for "Friends with Money," Best Foreign Film for "The Lives of Others" and the John Cassavettes Award for "Quinceanara" for Top Feature made for under $500,000.

"Sweet Land" won the Best First Feature trophy for producers Alan Cumming, James Bigham and Ali Selim, who also directed. The award marked the first time that a picture without a distributor has taken the Best First Feature prize.

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'The Road to Guantanamo' received the Best Documentary Award

Roadside Attractions' indie documentary, "The Road to Guantanamo," took the Documentary award for directors Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross. Howard Gertler and Tim Perell, producers of "Shortbus" and "Pizza," received the Axium Producers Award, which honors emerging producers.

Julie Lotkev, director of "Day Night Day Night," won the IFC/Acura Someone to Watch award and Adele Horn, director of "Tailendrs," won the Axium Truer Than Fiction Award, presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant attention.

Film Independent, which administers the awards, decided in 2005 to limit nominations to pictures with budgets under $20 million. Nominees were selected by 'Spirit Awards' panels from over 250 submissions. Winners were voted on by members of Film Independent and The Independent Film Project.

Previously announced kudos included a Special Distinction Award to David Lynch and Laura Dern for their collabarative work and an Honorary Spirit Award to the late Robert Altman. Sarah Silverman emceed the show.

And the 2007 Independent Spirit winners are . . .

Best Feature

(Award given to the Producer)

"Little Miss Sunshine"

Producers: Marc Turtletaub, David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf, Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa

Best First Feature

(Award given to the Director and Producer)

"Sweet Land"

Director: Ali Selim

Producers: Alan Cumming, James Bigham and Ali Selim

Best Director

Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

"Little Miss Sunshine"

Best Male Lead

Ryan Gosling

"Half Nelson"

Best Female Lead

Shareeka Epps

"Half Nelson"

Best Supporting Male

Alan Arkin

"Little Miss Sunshine"

Best Supporting Female

Frances McDormand

"Friends with Money"

Best Screenplay

Jason Reitman

"Thank You For Smoking"

Best First Screenplay

Michael Arndt

"Little Miss Sunshine"

Best Cinematography

Guillermo Navarro

"Pan's Labyrinth"

John Cassavetes Award

(Given to the Best Feature made for under $500,000)

(Award given to the Writer, Director and Producer)

"Quinceanera"

Writers/Directors: Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland

Producer: Anne Clements

Best Documentary

(Award given to the Director)

"The Road to Guantanamo"

Directors: Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross

Best Foreign Film

(Award given to the Director)

"The Lives of Others"

(Germany)

Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Special Awards

Axium Truer Than Fiction Award

Adele Horn

"The Tailenders"

Axium Producers Award

Howard Gertler and Tim Perell

Producers, "Shortbus" and "Pizza"

Special Distinction Award

David Lynch and Laura Dern

IFC/Acura Someone to Watch Award

Julia Loktev

Director, "Day Night Day Night"

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