Indiewood Has Its Day as New York Strikes Oscar Gold at 75th Nominations
by Eugene Hernandez
There was talk of moving the annual Oscar ceremony to New York, but that campaign faded quickly and quietly in advance of the nominations for the 75th Academy Awards. Perhaps the move is something that would have made sense this year when so many nominations have New York roots.
It was a big moment for Indiewood. Films from Manhattan's specialty divisions and independent distribution companies led the way in the nominations for the best films of 2002, nabbing nominations in all major categories. In the case of the best director and best original screenplay categories, Hollywood was shut out entirely.
"Chicago," "Gangs of New York," "The Hours," "The Pianist," and "Frida": indeed Miramax garnered the lions share of notice after numerous Oscar nominations on Tuesday. Additionally, festival attendees here in Berlin were buzzing about the significant nods bestowed upon films from a number of smaller New York specialty film divisions and independent distributors.
Notably, it was a big year for Spanish-language cinema. Pedro Almodovar's two nominations, for best director and best original screenplay, drew cheers from industry attendees at the Berlinale. While the Sony Classics film was not selected to represent Spain at the Oscars, the Academy honored Almodovar with two of its top nominations. The director previously won the best foreign language Oscar for "All About My Mother." Another Spanish-language nominee that was heralded here in Berlin was the original screenplay nod for Carlos Cuaron and Alfonso Cuaron for IFC Films' "Y Tu Mama Tambien." While in the foreign language category, the Spanish-language "El Crimen del Padre Amaro" (The Crime of Father Amaro) from Mexico and Samuel Golwdyn was selected.
Germans here in Berlin were thrilled with the news that Caroline Link's "Nowhere in Africa" is also nominated for best foreign language film. The movie, which won the top prize at last year's Hamptons International Film Festival, is a Zeitgeist release. Miramax's "Hero" from China, which is competing here at the Berlinale, is also among the foreign-language nominees, while Sony Pictures Classics has "The Man Without a Past" from Finland. Rounding out the group is "Zus & Zo" from The Netherlands.
In the documentary category, the inclusion of "Spellbound" was a welcome nomination. The film, which screened at SXSW and Tribeca, won a special jury award at last year's Los Angeles Film Festival and has been a hit at numerous film festivals, including Toronto. It was acquired by ThinkFilm last fall and is set for release this spring.
Also in the doc category, Sundance 2002 winner "Daughter from Danang" was honored. It has been a hit at numerous festivals and is in release from Balcony Releasing in association with Cowboy Pictures. Rounding out the category are Alliance Atlantis' "Prisoner of Paradise" by Malcolm Clarke and Stuart Sender, along with "Winged Migration" by Jacques Perrin, which will be a Sony Classics release this year. Of course, the heavy-hitter in the section is United Artists' "Bowling for Columbine" from Micahel Moore. The doc has been a big hit in the U.S. and around the world: UA nabbed the film in Cannes last year.
Festival audiences here at the 2003 Berlinale are getting a taste of some of the top Oscar picks as the films are launched in Europe. "Chicago" opened the festival, "Adaptation" screened in competition, and "Gangs of New York" will close the 53rd Internationale Filmfestpiele Berlin this weekend.