Friday, December 5, 2008

Sandra Talks Indies

On a cold, foggy morning here, Sandra Oh and Jason Bateman announced the nominees for the upcoming Film Independent’s Spirit Awards, with “Frozen River,” “Rachel Getting Married” and “Ballast” receiving the most love.

Sandra and Jason Bateman announcing the nominees.

The 32 films culled from 275 submissions will vie for the most prestigious trophy in the Independent film world: a bird atop a black pillar wrapped in shoe strings to symbolize the scant funds available to those making movies outside the studio system.

Ms. Oh barely concealed her glee at some nominees, while Mr. Bateman focused his attention on slowly handling unfamiliar pronunciations. While her publicist scurried beside her, ushering her toward a short red carpet inside the Sofitel hotel, Sandra Oh resisted naming her favorite films. But during the list of best feature contenders she gasped at the mention of “Frozen River,” which she called “one of the most intense thrillers I’ve ever seen.”

“And Rosemarie DeWitt,” she said of the nominee for best supporting female in “Rachel Getting Married.” “I’m excited for her as an actress.”

Themes of class, poverty and immigration run through the top films nominated this year, said Ms. Oh. That hardship has spilled into the independent film world, she added, where the divide between rich and poor is just as stark.

“Right now, we’re at such a tough place with independent films,” she said. “The divide between films made for less than $2 million and over $150 million is getting wider and wider.”

“The spirit awards are so essential to help the life of a film like ‘Ballast’ or like ‘Frozen River’ so they can gain traction and get an audience.”

Nearby, Dawn Hudson, the executive director of Film Independent, paused to chat on the red carpet. If the list of nominations here today was any indication, said Ms. Hudson, great films have risen from the muck of scant funding and a tense political climate.

“Creativity in the film world is thriving even as the funding is depressed,” said Ms. Hudson, her beaded cardigan sparkling.

“Without independent films, there wouldn’t be the creativity in Blockbusters. It’s a place where artists develop their voices,” she added.

That, said Ms. Oh, also resonates with the times. “Post election,” she said, “I’m feeling like it can be done, We can win.”

Source: NY Times

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