There isn’t a whole lot of significance to the Gotham Independent Film Awards outside of their claim to be “the first honors of the film awards season.” Especially now that they’ve eliminated the category of Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You, which highlighted undistributed gems most worthy of awareness, there’s not much distinction either.
But the Best Documentary nominees are selected by a jury of people I respect, including Hot Docs Director of Programming Charlotte Cook and Camden International Film Festival Executive Director Ben Fowlie. As usual, the five contenders are a varied and unpredictable bunch. And as always, they’re not to be looked at by Oscar prognosticators. Typically there’s maybe one Gotham nominee that is also an Oscar nominee, and the winners have never matched up. My guess is the overlap this year could be Our Nixon, as I stand by my prediction that The Act of Killing will be snubbed.
The Audience Award competition is more interesting, because there are a lot more titles, including the very popular 20 Feet From Stardom and the Sundance and Toronto audience winner The Square, mixed with fiction films. And we get to decide the winner. Voting begins today, and you get to pick five nominees — all docs if you wish. Go to the Indiepix website to make your choices now.
Here are the five Gotham Nominees for Best Documentary:
The Act of Killing
Joshua Oppenheimer, director; Signe Byrge, Joshua Oppenheimer, producers (Drafthouse Films)
The Crash Reel
Lucy Walker, director; Julian Cautherly, Lucy Walker, producers (HBO Documentary Films)
First Cousin Once Removed
Alan Berliner, director and producer (HBO Documentary Films)
Let the Fire Burn
Jason Osder, director and producer (Zeitgeist Films)
Penny Lane, director; Brian L. Frye, Penny Lane, producers (Cinedigm and CNN Films)
And here are the 25 Audience Award documentary choices (out of 34 choices total!):
A Will For the Woods
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs
Best Kept Secret
Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey
Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story
Good Ol’ Freda
How to Make Money Selling Drugs
Inequality for All
Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings
Life According to Sam
My Name is Faith
Running Wild: The Life of Dayton O. Hyde
The New Black
The Short Game
This Ain’t No Mouse Music!
Twenty Feet From Stardom
Two: The Story of Roman & Nyro