Hawaii Film Blog

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Triple Dose of Indie Film News: Sundance, Spirit, Gotham

Taika Waititi's "Eagle vs. Shark"

The 2007 Sundance Film Festival competition slate was announced today, and the rest of the slate will be announced tomorrow. Among the films screening in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition is "Eagle vs. Shark" by Maori filmmaker Taika Waititi, whose short film, "Two Cars, One Night" was nominated for an Oscar a few years ago. "Eagle vs. Shark," Waititi's first feature, is about two social misfits awkwardly trying to find love.

Yesterday, the Independent Spirit Award nominations were announced, and there is very strong representation of Asian American filmmaking talent--the strongest ever, I believe, at the Spirit awards. So kudos to the Film Independent and IFP folks for that! The Asian Am nominees include: for Best First Feature: "Man Push Cart" directed by Ramin Bahrani and produced by Ramin Bahrani, Pradip Ghosh, and Bedford T. Bentley; and "The Motel" directed by Michael Kang and produced by Matthew Greenfield, Miguel Arteta, Gina Kwon, and Karin Chien; and for the "IFC/Acura Someone to Watch Award," So Yong Kim ("In Between Days") and Richard Wong ("Colma: The Musical").

So Yong's and Richard's films were also nominated for IFP Gotham Awards in the "Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You" category. The awards ceremony is taking place in NYC right now as I write.

The Gotham Awards have gotten a lot of flack this year for nominating big budget studio features like Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" and Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette." Critics are saying that this "anything goes" nomination process throws into question the whole point of the Gotham Awards, a 16-year old event put on by IFP, the oldest non-profit membership and advocacy organization for independent filmmakers.

IFP exec director Michelle Byrd defends the bigger budget nominees, saying "I don't think the Gotham Awards are about independent film...We're celebrating almost a style of working, in all genres and budget levels....The importance of filmmaking is the author's voice, which drives people to make independent films." Perhaps the Gotham Awards should be renamed the Auteur Awards. Auteurs do exist at every budget level, and in fact, I would argue that it is probably harder for an auteur working within the studio system to retain his or her independent spirit in the face of all that financial pressure. Still, it's a little tough to stomach the fact that the nomination spot taken up by the $90 million "The Departed" (notwithstanding that fact that Scorsese is the reigning king of American auteurs) could've provided a much needed promotional venue for some little known film. But then, would anyone (media, sponsors, you) even care about the Awards? (Sigh) Such is the conundrum of film events, organizations, and festivals that were originally founded to support pre-Indiewood independent film.

Sundance Unveils Competition Slates: Organizers Highlight Diversity, Innovation and Globalization [indieWIRE, 11/29/06]
2007 Spirit Awards Nominees [Film Independent]
2006 Gotham Awards Nominees [IFP]
Gotham nominees a case of double identity? [The Hollywood Reporter, 11/28/06]
Gotham Awards grows to include studio fare [Variety, 11/28/06]

The Meaning of "Independent"
IFP Hawaii?
2006 Independent Spirit Award Winners
>> 2005 IFP Gotham Award Mominees
>> HIFF Report: Asian American Invasion
>> Hollywood Studio System is "Inherently Racist"
Hawaii Looks to New Zealand
>> Hawaiinuiakea Film Festival
>> Technical Difficulties at HIFF, on blog
>> Calling All Korean & Korean American Filmmakers
>> US Indies at LVHIFF
>> Beantown as Tinseltown

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