By Brian Brooks | Indiewire December 1, 2009 at 9:28AM
"Without this community I couldn't make a film like 'The Hurt Locker,'" said the film's director, Kathryn Bigelow Monday night in New York after receiving the Best Feature prize at the Gotham Independent Film Awards, and with that, many headed out of Cipriani near Wall Street for an after-party hosted by Kodak, HSBC, indieWIRE, Stella Artois and Medea Vodka at the Tribeca Cinemas.
"Hurt Locker" also took the prize for Best Ensemble Cast, while Robert Kenner's "Food Inc." won Best Documentary. Magnolia Pictures chief Eammon Bowles accepted the prize on his behalf, saying "There's no calorie counter tonight." The typically shy Coen brothers took to the stage to present a tribute to producer/executives Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, though they were - not surprisingly - no shows backstage for photos with the small but enthusiastic cadre of photographers and journalists who gathered in the press room to snap photos and ask questions from winners and presenters.
The awards kicked off with an emotional introduction for outgoing IFP executive director Michelle Byrd with attendees gave her a standing ovation. All in all, it was a good night, and some attendees commented at the Kodak/iW party that they were pleasantly surprised the awards kept to a tight schedule. The show started a bit later then the official 8 p.m. kick off, but it nevertheless ended promptly at 10pm. Now that's an awards miracle!
Comedian Kumail Nanjiani picked out actor Willem Dafoe for some jokes in his ceremony kick off. "It's good to see so many wonderful actors that have brought so much joy to audiences," he says. "And it's also good to see Willem Dafoe. Who brings us confusion and terror, and more recently, a terrible fear of castration," referencing his starring role this year in Lars von Trier's "Antichrist." Dafoe presented the Best Feature prize to Bigelow.
Brooke Shields was one of a number of celebs who presented awards Monday night, including Patricia Clarkson, Rosie Perez, Willem Dafoe and Meryl Streep. In the press room, she joined "The Hurt Locker"'s Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner and Brian Geraghty who Shields presented with the prize for Best Ensemble Cast. Not a bad looking group! One party attendee was captivated during the cocktail party when she saw Shields, saying, "god she always looks gorgeous."
Anthony Mackie joined actress Rosie Perez earlier in the evening to present the Breakthrough Director prize (Robert Siegel for "Big Fan"), and Perez decided to do her own joking around with Dafoe. "'Antichrist' is a sick-ass movie," she said, then went on to ask in a round about way if the penis shown in the movie (having sex with co-star Charlotte Gainsbourg) was in fact his... Perez almost blurted out the winner for Breakthrough Director before the cue, but Mackie reminded her that they first had to introduce the nominee trailers. Oops.
Two for one! director/producer Ry Russo-Young is joined by Breakthrough Director winner Robert Siegel in the press room for a photo op. Russo-Young kept it short and sweet, thanking her parents and then zipping backstage (actually, it was a room upstairs) for some quick photos and interviews. She was quite excited to see local New York television personality George Whipple who was covering the awards for New York 1, saying, "oh my god, I'm so excited to meet you. I always watch you..." Her comedy/drama is about a woman who is a film portrait of Shelly Brown, a twenty-three year old alienated urban misfit who is recently released from a psychiatric hospital.
"Everyone in this room... I feel lucky to be your peers and in this great city," Portman said in a short speech accepting a Gothams tribute award. "I feel lucky to create among all of you." Backstage, Portman said she was cold, though quite honestly, her dress wasn't exactly meant to shield the skin. But it did look hot on her. Journalists asked Portman a couple of questions which seemed to annoy her, with one peppering her about Oscar buzz for "Brothers." " "Well, we're promoting the film," she said curtly. Then another journalist decided to take the high road and asked her about dating. "You'll have to ask the boys," she said. Oh the life of a celeb...
"I feel far too young, but look far too old to win this award," Stanley Tucci said after receiving a tribute award. Very appropriately, Meryl Streep introduced Tucci, with whom she has starred in the recent "Julie & Julia" as well as "The Devil Wears Prada." "She's drunk as a skunk, it's so sad," he joked about his friend and co-star. He said that they both cooked for their spouses while taping "Julia" and when asked what they did after dinner, he said, "we went to bed...not together." "Award shows are at once heaven and hell," Tucci said. "How great to have Meryl as God."
In a nice surprise, "The Maid" actress Catalina Saavedra won the Breakthrough Actress award Monday night. I was sitting at the table with the folks from Elephant Eye Films, which released the film in the U.S. (they saved me after the table I was officially suppose to sit at didn't have room for me, so thanks guys for taking me in). "I can't believe it," said Saavedra taking the stage. "Guys, she doesn't even have an agent," added director Sebastian Silva (center) who joined her on stage. She later joked with journalists backstage that "now, I guess I should learn English." Her producer Gregorio Gonzalez (left) translated for her. One interesting factoid: the last three winners of this prize at the Gothams have gone on to receive Oscar nominations. Joining them in this photo taken before the awards began is Required Viewing's Stephen Raphael.
Also joining in on the pre-ceremony fun was "Super Size Me" director/star Morgan Spurlock together with friends and colleagues. The whole event began at 6:30 at Cipriani off Wall Street (the restaurant is credited with creating the bellini - the mix was great, but the bartender was not the best mixologist) with a pre-show cocktail party. People seemed so into the socializing and cocktailing that the show was a bit late to start because announcements asking attendees to take their seats seemed to fall on deaf ears. Joining Spurlock here are CAA's Michah Green (center), HBO's Sara Bernstein and producer Jeremy Chilnick ("Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?")
In her final major event as Executive Director of IFP, Michelle Byrd vowed, "I'm not going to be maudlin tonight...It’s not a night of sadness for me, it’s a night of celebration." She went on to thank IFP staffers - past and present - with whom she has worked with over the years. Byrd, along with the evening's host, comedian Kumail Nanjiani (pictured with Byrd) continued with the fun at the Kodak/indieWIRE party at the Tribeca Cinemas (pictured here).
And Michelle Byrd's replacement is producer Joana Vicente, pictured here with fellow producer Jason Kliot. Vicente isn't new to the organization, which produces the Gothams as well as the annual Indpendent Film Week in September. IFP also recently re-branded its name to Independent Filmmaker Project, and Vicente will actually be the interim head while the organization searches for a permanent head. Michelle Byrd announced earlier this year she was leaving her position. She served as executive director for 12 years. [Photo by Eugene Hernandez]
Producer Anne Chaisson ("Diggers") who also works with the annual Hamptons International Film Festival, Sarasota Film Festival head Tom Hall and director Joshua Marston ("Maria Full of Grace") were among the guests at the Kodak/indieWIRE post-Gothams party Monday night. Marston won the Gothams' Breakthrough Director prize for "Maria" in 2004, while the film's star, Catalina Sandino Moreno went on to win the Breakthrough award that year as well as an Independent Spirit Award and an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. The Kodak/iW party continued at Tribeca Cinemas until 1am.
Although they lost out to Ry Russo-Young's "You Won't Miss Me," Donal Mosher (left with drink) and Michael Palmieri's (center) doc "October Country" is definitely a great film. The feature is a beautifully filmed portrait of an American family struggling for stability while haunted by its ghosts and its picked up a slew of festival awards this past year, including best U.S. feature last summer at SilverDocs (and they're just great guys). Joining them at the Kodak/iW party were Cinereach's Philip Englehorn and Adella Ladjevardi (iW plans to profile their organization which provides funding to docs and narratives that have a "strong social justice component" early next year).
They're engaged! Hamptons International Film Festival Director of Programming David Nugent with fiancee Violet Gaynor at the post-Gothams bash. The couple said last night that they will be married in May! Congratulations!!
Hanging and clowning around at the Kodak/iW party after the Gothams, actor Martin Starr ("Freaks and Geeks"). Starr was nominated for Best Ensemble Cast for his role in "Adventureland" (along with Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Ryan Reynolds). He's joined here with the New York Times' Mekado Murphy (right), Gotham Awards ceremony host Kumail Nanjiani as well as his lovely wife.
[For the full list of Gotham Independent Film Awards winners, click here.]
[All photos by Brian Brooks/indieWIRE unless otherwise noted. Quotes used in this article were compiled during the Gotham Independent Film Awards ceremony by Peter Knegt and Eugene Hernandez]