New Works by Veteran Indie Filmmakers Share Top Honors at 2009 Film Independent’s Spirit Awards

February 21, 2009

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 21 /PRNewswire/ — The Wrestler, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and Milk shared top category honors at the 2009 Film Independent’s Spirit Awards, making the highly anticipated annual event into a celebration of the diverse films that captured the public’s attention this year. The Visitor, Frozen River, In Search of a Midnight Kiss, Man on Wire, The Class and Synecdoche, New York also received awards at the event.

The 2009 Film Independent’s Spirit Awards was held Saturday, February 21, in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica. The Spirit Awards is a celebration honoring films made by filmmakers who embody independence and who dare to challenge the status quo. This annual event, which began as a small grassroots program, has grown into one of the most anticipated events of the film year.

This year’s major category winners were Fox Searchlight Pictures’ The Wrestler, which won Best Feature, Best Male Lead ( Mickey Rourke), and Best Cinematography ( Maryse Alberti); The Weinstein Company’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which won Best Screenplay ( Woody Allen), and Best Supporting Female ( Penelope Cruz); Overture Films’ The Visitor, which won Best Director ( Tom McCarthy); Sony Pictures Classics’ Synecdoche, New York, which won Best First Feature and the Robert Altman Award, Frozen River, which won Best Female Lead ( Melissa Leo); and The Class, which won Best Foreign Film; IFC Films’ In Search of a Midnight Kiss, which won the John Cassavetes Award for the Best Feature made for under $500,000; and Magnolia Pictures Man on Wire, which won Best Documentary.

Heather Rae, producer of Frozen River and Ibid, received the thirteenth annual Piaget Producers Award, which honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce quality, independent films. The winner of the Producers Award receives an unrestricted grant of $25,000 funded by Piaget.

Lynn Shelton, director of My Effortless Brilliance, won the sixteenth annual Acura Someone To Watch Award, a $25,000 unrestricted grant created to honor a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award is funded by Acura.

Margaret Brown, director of The Order of Myths, won the fifteenth annual LACOSTE Truer Than Fiction Award, presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant attention. The award is accompanied by a $25,000 unrestricted grant funded by LACOSTE.

Also given was the 2nd annual Robert Altman Award, given to one film’s director, casting director, and ensemble cast. Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut Synecdoche, New York received this award, along with casting director Jeanne McCarthy, and ensemble cast members Hope Davis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Tom Noonan, Emily Watson, Dianne Wiest, and Michelle Williams.

Film Independent’s Spirit Awards ceremony is sponsored by IFC, Netflix, ELLE, AMC, Piaget, and LACOSTE. Principal Sponsors are Acura, Heineken, Garnier, and Australia.com. The official spirits of the Spirit Awards were provided by G.H. Mumm Champagne and Jameson Irish Whiskey. Hotel Shangri-La, Casa Del Mar, and Shutters on the Beach are the Official Host Hotels. Wire Image is the Official Photographer of Film Independent. American Airlines is the Official Airline Partner of Film Independent. ON 3 Productions is the Official Presenter Gift Lounge producer. FIJI Water is the official water of the Spirit Awards.

The ceremony aired live on IFC (Independent Film Channel), beginning at 2:00 pm PST. An edited re-broadcast will air later this evening on AMC at 10:00 pm EST/PST.

Actor Steve Coogan served as Master of Ceremonies. Alec Baldwin served as Honorary Chair. Diana Zahn-Storey executive produced the 2009 Film Independent’s Spirit Awards for the fifteenth year.

    The following is a complete list of the winners:

    Best Feature                      Fox Searchlight Pictures
    The Wrestler                      Producers: Darren Aronofsky,
                                      Scott Franklin

    Best Director                     Overture Films
    Tom McCarthy                      The Visitor

    Best Screenplay                   The Weinstein Company
    Woody Allen                       Vicky Cristina Barcelona

    Best First Feature                Sony Pictures Classics
    Synecdoche, New York              Director: Charlie Kaufman
                                      Producers: Anthony Bregman, Spike Jonze
                                      Charlie Kaufman, Sidney Kimmel

    Best First Screenplay             Focus Features
    Dustin Lance Black                Milk

    John Cassavetes Award             IFC Films
    (For the Best Feature made
    for under $500,000)               Writer/Director: Alex Holdridge
    In Search of a Midnight Kiss      Producers: Seth Caplan, Scoot McNairy

    Best Supporting Female            The Weinstein Company
    Penelope Cruz                     Vicky Cristina Barcelona

    Best Supporting Male              Focus Features
    James Franco                      Milk

    Best Female Lead                  Sony Pictures Classics
    Melissa Leo                       Frozen River

    Best Male Lead                    Fox Searchlight Pictures
    Mickey Rourke                     The Wrestler

    Best Cinematography               Fox Searchlight Pictures
    Maryse Alberti                    The Wrestler

    Best Foreign Film                 Sony Pictures Classics
    The Class                         Director: Laurent Cantet

    Best Documentary                  Magnolia Pictures
    Man on Wire                       James Marsh


    THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY             2
    FOCUS FEATURES                    2
    IFC FILMS                         1
    MAGNOLIA PICTURES                 1
    OVERTURE FILMS                    1


Joining host Dawn Hudson, Executive Director of Film Independent, were Master of Ceremonies Steve Coogan, and Honorary Chair Alec Baldwin.

Presenters and musical performances included: Jessica Alba, Christina Applegate, Elizabeth Banks, Jason Bateman, Thomas Haden Church, Bradley Cooper, Bryan Cranston, Claire Danes, Laura Dern, Zooey Deschanel, Cameron Diaz, Aaron Eckhart, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Teri Hatcher, Anne Hathaway, Taraji P. Henson, Emile Hirsch, Robyn Hitchcock, Sir Ben Kingsley, Melissa Leo, Lucy Liu, Andie MacDowell, Michelle Monaghan, Sandra Oh, Mary-Kate Olsen, Ellen Page, Robin Wright Penn, Rosie Perez, John C. Reilly, Giovanni Ribisi, Tarra Riggs, Blair Underwood, Kerry Washington, John Waters, Rainn Wilson, Evan Rachel Wood, and ZO2.

Celebrity Guests and Nominees included: Maryse Alberti, Darren Aronofsky, Justine Bateman, Dustin Lance Black, Michael Bolton, Rose Byrne, Laurent Cantet, Keisha Castle Hughes, Wyatt Cenac, Penelope Cruz, Hope Davis, Dana Delaney, Jonathan Demme, Rosemarie DeWitt, Melonie Diaz, Illeana Douglas, Eliza Dushku, James Franco, Jon Hamm, Lance Hammer, Werner Herzog, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, Charlie Kaufman, Catherine Keener, Ellen Kuras, Anthony Mackie, John Malkovich, James Marsh, Tom McCarthy, Charlie McDermott, Dominic Monaghan, Tom Noonan, Jim Myron Ross, Josh Peck, Lori Petty, Marc Platt, Heather Rae, Jeremy Renner, Eric Roberts, Howard A. Rodman, Mickey Rourke, Harris Savides, Haaz Sleiman, Mena Suvari, Jeffrey Tambor, Misty Upham, Rachel Weisz, Jennifer Westfeldt, Michelle Williams, Debra Winger, Adam Yauch, and many, many more…


Film Independent’s Spirit Awards is a celebration honoring films made by filmmakers who embody independence and who dare to challenge the status quo. Televised in millions of homes and covered internationally by the press, the Spirit Awards has become the vanguard event in independent film, recognizing the achievements of independent filmmakers and promoting independent film to a wider audience.

Selected from more than 250 submissions, awards are given in the following categories: Best Feature, Best First Feature, Best First Screenplay, Best Director, Best Screenplay, John Cassavetes Award (given to the best feature made for a budget under $500,000), Best Male Lead, Best Female Lead, Best Supporting Male, Best Supporting Female, Best Cinematography, Best Foreign Film, and Best Documentary.

The Spirit Awards Nominating Committees apply the following guidelines in making its selections:

1. Uniqueness of vision

2. Original, provocative subject matter

3. Economy of means (with particular attention paid to total production cost and individual compensation)

4. Percentage of financing from independent sources

Eligible films must be at least 70 minutes long, and the cost of the completed film, including post-production, must be under $20 million. Films must have been shown in a commercial theater for at least one week between January 1 and December 31, 2008 or shown at one of the following festivals in 2008: Film Independent’s Los Angeles Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, New York, Sundance, Telluride, or Toronto.

After the committees select the nominees, the members of Film Independent, as well as the members of IFP, cast the final votes. Voters attend nominee screenings and view nominated films through Netflix before selecting the winners.

This year’s nominees for Best Feature were Ballast, Frozen River, Rachel Getting Married, Wendy and Lucy, and The Wrestler. Best First Feature nominees were Afterschool, Medicine for Melancholy, Sangre de mi Sangre, Sleep Dealer, and Synecdoche, New York.

Last year’s Spirit Award winners included Juno, which won Best Feature, Best Female Lead ( Ellen Page), and Best First Screenplay ( Diablo Cody), The Savages, which won Best Male Lead ( Philip Seymour Hoffman), and Best Screenplay ( Tamara Jenkins), and Once which won Best Foreign Film; and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which won Best Director ( Julian Schnabel), and Best Cinematography ( Janusz Kaminski), and The Lookout, which won Best First Feature. August Evening received the John Cassavetes Award for the Best Feature made for under $500,000.


Film Independent is a non-profit membership organization that champions independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds the audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. Anyone passionate about film can become a member, whether you are a filmmaker, film industry leader, or a film lover.

With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent also offers free Filmmaker Labs for selected writers, directors, and producers; provides cut-rate services for filmmakers; and presents year-round networking opportunities. Film Independent’s mentorship and job placement program, Project:Involve, pairs emerging culturally-diverse filmmakers with film industry professionals.

Film Independent produces the Los Angeles Film Festival, celebrating the best of American and international cinema, and the Spirit Awards, a celebration honoring films and filmmakers that embody independence and dare to challenge the status quo.

For more information or to become a member, visit FilmIndependent.org

SOURCE Film Independent

Source: newswire

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