2012 Gotham Independent Film Awards

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Our name is Indiezone, so it should come as no surprise that we LOVE the IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards.  Selected by a host of distinguished juries and presented in the greatest city in the world (we SAID we were biased) and the heart of independent filmmaking New York City, we believe it is the perfect way to kick off award season. 


And of course, there could be no Gotham Independent Film Award without the IFP, a non-profit organization that has blossomed into the oldest and largest of its kind for independent filmmakers around the world, always fighting the good fight to broaden the palette of cinema, seed global culture with new ideas, kindle awareness, and foster activism through the lens of the independent filmmaker.  And since their creation in 1979, they have helped support 7,000 films and provide resources for over 20,000 filmmakers' voices - yeah, that is impressive.  And seeing that they currently represent over 10,000 filmmakers in New York and around the world, we can only giddily await some of the creative genius they help foster over the next 50 years or so.  


Ok, so enough about the awards and IFP (although we still love you!!), let's get down to the nitty-gritty - the films, the directors, and the actors, oh boy!  This is the start of it, another year of award ceremonies and a growing number of films you have to add to your "Must-Watch" Netflix account. And these awards often predict which films keep popping up down the line at other big festivals (cause Independents rock those too - why wouldn't they?).  Alright, after November 26th there will be 6 new darlings of the Independent world in the following categories:  Best Feature; Best Documentary; Breakthrough Director; Breakthrough Actor; Best Ensemble Performance; and Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You (see our article dedicated to this event if you have no idea what that is!)


We're gonna give you a brief description of all the nominees in the category for you to peruse at your liking (and maybe even get a head start on adding one to your Netflix!)


Best Feature



Bernie - This black comedy written by Skip Hollandsworth and Richard Linklater (also directed by Linklater) stars Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine and Matthew McConaughey. Based on the 1988 article by Hollandsworth, Bernie chronicles the 1996 murder of an 81-year old millionaire by her 39-year old companion and the great lengths he goes to to create the illusion she is still alive. 


The Loneliest Planet - Written and directed by Julia Loktev and based on the short story by the same name, The Loneliest Planet stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg and revolves around an engaged couple's backpacking trip through the Georgian wilderness; when their guide can't prevent them from a dangerous misstep everything the couple believes about each other and about themselves threatens to be derailed. 


The Master - A Naval veteran arrives home from war uncertain of his future; that is until he finds The Cause and its charismatic leader.  Powerhouses Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, and Amy Adams star in this Paul Thomas Anderson film that had Oscar buzz before it even finished conception and has not disappointed since its release. 


Middle of Nowhere - Ruby's journey of self-discovery is violently forced into motion the minute her husband is sentenced to 8 years in prison and she drops out of med school to focus on his well-being.  Written and directed by Ava DuVernay; starring Emayatzy Corienealdi and David Oyelowo.


Moonrise Kingdom - Wes Anderson has added another great film to his long list, this time following a pair of young lovers as they flee their New England town, causing a local search party to fan out and find them.  Newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are surrounded by the all-star cast of Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartz, Tilda Swinton, and Frances McDormand.


Best Documentary



Detropia -  Directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, Detropia focuses on the city of Detroit; its woes and how its decline is emblematic of the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing base. 


How to Survive a Plague -  Directed by David France and starring Peter Staley and Garance Franke-Ruita, How to Survive a Plague follows the story of two coalitions - ACT UP and TAG - whose activism helped turn AIDS from a certain death sentence to a manageable illness, and reminds us that political indifference and non action can be just as powerful and deadly as a 'wrong' action.  


Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present - Starring Serbian performance artist Marina Abromovic and directed by Matthew Akers and Jef Dupre, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present follows Abromovic as she prepares for a retrospective of her for at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


Room 237 -  Directed by Rodney Ascher and starring Bill Blakemore and Geoffrey Cocks, Room 237 is a subjective documentary that explores the many theories about the hidden theories in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.  


The Waiting Room -  Directed by Peter Nicks, The Waiting Room is a unique blend of social media and documentary filmmaking that addresses the current topic of health care form and equal access to care. 


Breakthrough Director



Zal Batmanjlij - With only one short under his belt, writer/director Zal Batmanjilj turned his feature debut Sound of My Voice, a film about a journalist and his girlfriend who get pulled in while they investigate a cult whose leader claims to be from the future, into a Sundance selected film. 


Brian M. Cassidy & Melanie Shatzky  - This husband/wife duo already had a pair of impressive shorts and one award-winning documentary under their belts, but have truly stepped into the limelight with their first narrative feature Francine, starring Academy Award winner Melissa Leo as an emotionally shattered middle-aged woman looking for a sense of connection after being released from prison.  


Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin - The duo made waves in the festival circuit with their feature Now, Forager, a food lover's film about two foragers Lucien and Regina who gather wild mushrooms and sell them to New York restaurants.


Antonio Mendez Esparza -  This Spanish director's feature debut Aquí u Allá, about a young man returning to a small mountain village in Mexico after years of working in the United States, took the top prize at Cannes Critic Week showcases. 


Benh Zeitlin - This young co-writer and first-time director of the widely discussed and successful Beasts of the Southern Wild, following six-year-old Hushpuppy's journey to learn the ways of courage and love while the world around her falls apart, has been on a non-stop publicity and awards-collection tour for the past 5 months.


Breakthrough Actor



Mike Birbiglia - a comedian from Shrewsbury Massachusetts, Mike Birbiglia turned Sleepwalk With Me first into a Comedy Central Record, then a one-man show, and finally a feature film that won the NEXT Audience Award at Sundance. What a talent. 


Emayatzy Corinealdi - From Fort Knox, Kentucky but moved around a lot due to her family's military background, Corinealdi had a slew of television roles before winning the 14th Annual American Black Film Festival Star Project, an international acting competition for emerging multicultural artists. She has been nominated for Middle of Nowhere, her feature film debut. 


Thure Lindhardt -  A Danish actor, Lindhardt has been acting in Denmark since the age of 12. He was introduced to the American audience only recently, however, with his portrayal of Erik in Keep the Lights On. Glad we finally got exposed to this young talent! 


Melanie Lynskey - New Zealand actress is best known for playing the crazy neighbor in Two and a Half Men and a slew of supporting roles throughout her career (Ever After, Coyote Ugly, Sweet Home Alabama).  She finally got a much deserved leading role in Hello I must be Going, and clearly knocked it out of the park. 


Quvenzhané Wallis - This previously undiscovered talent made Beasts of the Southern Wild "sing" as one reviewer said it, and at the tender age of 8 is clearly our youngest actress in the award circuit this year. 


Best Ensemble Performance



Bernie - Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey


Moonrise Kindgom - Bruce WIllis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bob Balaban 


Safety Not Guaranteed  - Aubrey Plaza, Basil Harris, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Jake M. Johnson, Karan Soni, David Leo Shultz, Jeff Garlin, Mark Duplass


Silver Linings Playbook - Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, Shea Wigham, Julia Stiles, John Oritz, Dash Mhok, Paul Herman


Your Sister's Sister - Emily Blunt, Rosemarie Dewitt, Mark Duplass


Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You



Kid-Thing -  Written and directed by David Zellner, Kid-Thing tells the tale of ten-year-old Annie, abandoned by her parents in rural Texas, filling her days with random moments of solitary vandalism. That is until she stumbles upon the voice of an old woman trapped in an underground well. Is this the voice of the devil;  or some woman who might like to eat a PB&J? And how will prone-to-violence Annie handle this newest conundrum in her life?   


An Oversimplification of Her Beauty - written and directed by Terence Nance, his debut feature documents the relationship between Terence and Woman as it teeters on the divide between the platonic and romantic. Nance delightfully breaks the rules of standard filmmaking by using a mixture of animation, live action, and documentary-style footage to explore fantasies, emotions, and memories that occur during a singular moment of time.


Red Flag - written and directed by Alex Karpovsky, Kid-Thing is a docu-fictional  self-reflection of Karpovsky's experiences of living the dream of the micro-budget indy-filmmaker.  In the film newly single Karpovsky  embarks on a road trip with a reluctant friend through the southeastern United States to screen his second feature ''Woodpecker'; and of course encounters a series of mishaps and adventures along the way. 


Sun Don't Shine - written and directed by Amy Seimetz, Sun Don't Shine has been described as a combination of Bonnie and Clyde, Wanda, Badlands, Panic in Needle Park, and True Romance set in the Florida Everglades.  Drifters, danger, doomed lovers, and desperate embraces all find their way in this fresh and innovative throwback to 1970's cinema.


Tiger Tail in Blue -  Shot by the extraordinarily talented Mike Gibisser written and directed by Frank V. Ross, this subtle drama focuses on a recently married couple - Chris and Melody - who's conflicting work schedules keep them apart. Absence doesn't always make the heart grow fonder, and Chris (played by Ross himself) finds himself drawn to his sassy restaurant colleague.




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