Gotham Awards Give Hope to True Indies

Five of the films entered in this year’s Gotham Awards don’t have distribution. But "the most vital category," Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You, can save them from obscurity, according to The New York Sun. Nominees are selected by the editors of Filmmaker Magazine, who are fed titles by festival programmers from across the country.

"How many thousands of films are simply not released each year?" said Michelle Byrd, the executive director of the New York-based Independent Features Project, which facilitates the Gothams. "We wanted to create an award that really speaks to the kinds of filmmakers who would ideally be a member of IFP, who are out there making great works of art, but perhaps don’t have the kind of corporate support, or the support of a classic division of a major studio, that you sometimes need to get your film out there."

Two years ago, Caveh Zahedi’s "I Am a Sex Addict" was picked up by IFC Films after regaining momentum at the Gothams. Just last Friday, the second winner of the "Best Film Not Showing" award, Steve Barron’s "Choking Man," opened for its premiere theatrical run at Cinema Village (it continues screening this week), backed by distributor International Film Circuit. And starting Friday, this year’s five nominees will be screened for the public in a special four-day showcase at the Museum of Modern Art.