With Three New Categories, IFP Continues Push to Distinguish Gothams Among Busy Awards
by Eugene Hernandez
Further distinguishing itself from other awards season events, the IFP Gotham Awards will add three new categories to this year's ceremony. While still using working titles, the brand new categories will honor best ensemble cast, best use of the arts in a film, and best film not playing in theaters. HBO doc and family programming president Sheila Nevins and producer Bob Yari have been named co- chairs of 15th annual event, set for Pier Sixty in Manhattan on November 30th. Other competitive awards set for the annual Gotham Awards ceremony include Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Actor and Breakthrough Director.
In a statement, event co-chair Nevins and Yari cited the Gothams as supporting the "vision behind independent filmmaking," but IFP Executive Director Michelle Byrd clarified yesterday that the Gothams are not restricted by the often confusing term, "independent." She told indieWIRE on Monday that for many the term independent signals marginalization, is seen as a badge of honor to others, or has even been viewed as being co-opted. So she added, "By bypassing that word altogether, we are trying to bring it back to the work."
Byrd emphasized that the Gotham Awards are meant to recognize "auteur driven films that are in the creative control of filmmakers," including the "actors from those films and the emerging from those films." She added, "Its kind of subjective." That subjectivity is an important part of the Gothams, she reiterated. A committee that includes festival programmers and critics chooses the nominees and winners in each category. "Ultimately these are all juried awards," she said, "Sometimes you get unusual choices -- filmmaking and film criticism are really subjective."
Last year, the Gothams moved from September to December and ended up kicking off awards season, recognizing such films as "Sideways" and "Maria Full Grace," movies that would be singled out at numerous other events in the run up to Oscar Night in late February.
"We were really happy with the awards last year, we felt strong support from pretty much everyone, it seemed like people really came out to support it." She added that she wants the night to be celebratory and "a forecast for films that will be heard from throughout the whole season." In conclusion Byrd said, "We just had a really positive response, so we are looking to build on that."
The criteria for the new categories is still being established, but Byrd told indieWIRE that awards guidelines and criteria should be posted on the IFP website next week.
[ For more information, please visit: http://www.ifp.org. ]