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the gotham awards

the gotham awards

departedSM.jpgWith due respect to the Independent Feature Project, its head Michelle Byrd, the Gotham Awards nominating committee members, and of course the nominees, I have to say I was shocked today when I saw the list of nominations for this year’s fundraiser. I felt like I needed a clarification on the criteria, so I called Michelle and when she asked me if I was surprised, I told her that I found it strange to see a $90 million film, made with access to every possible resource at a studio, compete next to a movie like “Old Joy” (or even “Half Nelson”).

Last year, when announcing a change at the Gotham Awards, Michelle Byrd explained to me that the Gothams are not restricted by the often confusing term, “independent.” While the debate about “what is independent” can certainly grow tiresome, at indieWIRE we’ve found the ongoing discussion healthy and grounding, especially as we’ve seen the business change so much over the past ten years…

This year’s list clearly underscore that point. The inclusion of “The Departed” as a nominee for best picture, at an awards show presented by the Independent Feature Project, aggressively disregards the term ‘independent’ altogether. In our conversation today, Michelle explained that she welcomes the dialogue and based on the number of IMs and emails I have already received, there will certainly be one.

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Ray Pride

In journalism awards, there are often category cuts via circulation of the publication… It’d be nice if these films are included to put them in their own superduperubercatgory.

Paul Coleman

$90 Million? That’s a lot of independence. ;)

Mark Rabinowitz

Well, maybe it’s the “Independently (wealthy) Feature Project”

James Weston

Can someone pleas explain to me how on this earth A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints is not nominated in every single category of the Gotham Awards? I am officially not a fan of these awards any longer, as I have followed them very slowly and witnessed the deterioration of basically every awards show. There isn’t a more free spirited indie film made in years. Abomination.


These film nonprofits need to nominate big films in order to get the big sponsorship dollars. That’s what’s behind studio films being nominated for Gotham and Spirit Awards. Plain and simple. If they need to do that, okay, but I really think it’s wrong to create a false “debate” over the issue simply to serve themselves and not the independent film community. In the end they might attract those studio dollars, but they will alienate the very filmmakers they are supposed to serve. It’s impossible to justify The Departed for an indie award. Indie means made independently. Outside the studios. And indie might be acquired by a studio, but it should not be developed and made at a studio. The Departed (which I love) was a remake, written by a highly paid screenwriter on a for-hire basis. Nobody took back-end in lieu of salary. Nothing was done on spec independently. None of the producers involved are at “indie” companies. It was a studio film all the way.

Brian Clark

With due respect to our friends at IFP, this is what happens when the word “independent” becomes confusing to the Independent Feature Project. If that means the Gotham’s aren’t focused on “independent” that’s fine, but it seems fair to expect the IFP to be focused on it.

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