By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Indie World Domination?
Today, the IFP New York announced that its Gotham Awards – which used to actually be attached to an event on the indie film calendar, IFP’s NY Market – will be moving into the awards season with a Dec 1 awards show in New York.
Meanwhile, IFP West, which runs the Independent Spirit Awards, will announce their nominations, despite a near-three-month holding pattern until the actual awards, just the day before, on November 30.
So tell me… when did the renegades turn into a bunch of gussied up street walkin’ attention whores?
Make no mistake, critics groups across the land are happy to bend over deeply to take on a few celebrities at their various celebrations. Virgins are not roaming the awards landscape. But this is so overt! And combined with the notion that this is about celebrating the independent spirit… well, this is the independent spirit that led Harvey Weinstein into the $100 million movie business. And if that is what IFP wants to be about, they, like Harvey, will have to deal with a whole lot of serious competition.
The irony, of course, is that the Independent Spirit Awards have traditionally been an Oscar-chance killer, not a positive influencer. Academy members, like normal people, see that someone is getting their due and tend to look to other worthy people to support who have not yet been given the accolades of their peers.
What are the good folks at Focus Features thinking, putting Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind into the “Special Award” slot at the newly front-whor… uh, front-running Gotham Awards that their 21 Grams had last year at the Indie Spirits… which was one small factor in the film essentially tanking at the Oscars… nominations for Naomi Watts and Benecio del Toro, but not for the director or the screenplay, which was outgunned in the campaign by Dirty Pretty Things and Finding Nemo… two excellent scripts that should have easily been outgunned by 21 Grams.
Jim Carrey gives a sensational performance in Eternal Sunshine… award worthy. But is a nomination on Tuesday and a “special award” on Wednesday the road right to ScorseseVille, circa 2002?
Likewise, will Don Cheadle, who IFP is clearly hoping will be launched into – or be perceived as having been launched into – an Oscar nomination by being their Gotham Actor Award recipient, make the cut or be put on the shelf for having already been feted “enough” for his practically-every-frame Hotel Rwanda star turn?
And what is the IFP going to do for the rest of the independents that cost more than $16 million? How many films are going to start lying about their price tags in order to make that dubious cut? (I know of one film that seems to be leaning that way and may destroy its now-very-real Oscar chances by trying to have it both ways… even though its price tag is on the record in publication after publication.)
Of course, IFP already fails to recognize foreign language films outside of the foreign language category. Who do they represent? And why are they leading the way to the Hollywood mainstream when the mainstreaming of the indie business seems to be leading to a real crisis of purpose?
Does Dawn Hudson really want to be the Jack Valenti of indie?
I hope not. I have great respect for Valenti and what he’s done for the business, but he was there to do something for The Business, not to be the ambassador of film that was always his charming façade. When indies go that way, are they really going to be indies anymore?
I have a definite philosophy when it comes to these things… go where everyone else is not. The IFP has the platform to make a real difference for small films, but they seem so anxious to play with the big boys that they become just another log on a bunch of already raging fires. What is the point of that?
I love Lost in Translation… I am thrilled that Shohreh and Djimon got awards from someone… but if the Indie Spirits are to be the sandy kid sister of the Academy Awards, who is really going to care?
And though everyone will wander over to watch what’s up at The Gotham Awards this December 1 (like Christmas music in September), IFP seems comfortable becoming the Paris Hilton of industry events… no institutional memory of why the attention is so valuable and can be so useful… just a craving for it, no matter what you have to do and who is videotaping it.