Telugu-Language Movie & Marisa Tomei In; Julie Christie Out: Spirit Awards

by Alt Film Guide
Telugu-language movie Vanaja Rajnesh Domalpalli
Telugu-language movie Vanaja.

There were several surprise nominees for the 2007 Spirit Awards, announced earlier today. Most notable among those were Rajnesh Domalpalli's Telugu-language drama Vanaja (above), which garnered nominations for best first feature film and best cinematography (Milton Kam); Marisa Tomei's best supporting actress nod for Sidney Lumet's thriller Before the Devil Knows You're Dead; and Marcus Carl Franklin's presence in the best supporting actor category for his performance as “Woody” in I'm Not There.

Notable for their absence were, among others, Nicole Kidman for Margot at the Wedding, Christian Bale for Rescue Dawn, Ethan Hawke for Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Mathieu Amalric for his performance as stroke victim Jean-Dominique Bauby in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Ryan Gosling for Lars and the Real Girl, veteran director Sidney Lumet for Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, and Mira Nair's The Namesake in the best feature category.

Also, Tamara Jenkins was nominated for both her direction of and her screenplay for The Savages, but the film itself failed to receive a nomination.

Sarah Polley's Away from Her wasn't submitted for the Spirit Awards – and wouldn't have been eligible in most categories, as it's a Canadian production. That explains why Julie Christie – superb as a woman suffering from Alzheimer's – is not in the running for Best Actress.

The only nominee for the Spirit Award for best feature that also received a nod in the same category from the New York-based Gotham Awards was I'm Not There (right), Todd Haynes' surreal Bob Dylan biopic, while none of the nominated Gotham documentaries can be found in the Spirit Awards list. (Though Craig Zobel's Great World of Sound, a Gotham nominee for best feature, was shortlisted as one of the Spirit Awards' five best first features.) Part of the reason for the discrepancy has to do with different eligibility rules. Sean Penn's Gotham-nominated Into the Wild, for instance, cost more than US$20 million, which made it ineligible for the Spirit Awards.

Among the expected Spirit Award nominees are I'm Not There in the best film, best director (Haynes), and best supporting actress (Cate Blanchett, above photo) categories; Juno, about a young pregnant girl looking for prospective parents for her upcoming baby, in the best feature, best director (Jason Reitman), and best actress (Ellen Page) categories; and Cristian Mungiu's Cannes Film Festival winner 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Eran Kolirin's multiple Ophir winner The Band's Visit, and Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis in the best foreign film category.

All of the above names and titles will surely be found in many U.S. critics' awards lists. They are also likely Oscar contenders. (The Band's Visit, however, is ineligible in the Best Foreign Language Film category as most of its dialogue is in English.)

Of the (very) few Spirit Award nominees I've seen, only three – Lust, Caution leads (and Golden Horse nominees) Tony Leung and Tang Wei (above), and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto – would be included in my list of best of the best of 2007.

As an aside: The best micro-budget film I saw this year, David Lewis' Rock Haven, about a Christian teenager coming to terms with his homosexuality, could not be found in the list of nominees for the John Cassavetes Award – given to features made for under $500,000. Whether or not Rock Haven was eligible, its absence from the Cassavetes Award shortlist is an unfortunate omission.

The Spirit Award winners will be announced on Feb. 23.

Note: The Gotham Award winners will be announced tonight.

Film Independent's 23rd Spirit Awards

Spirit Award nominations: Nov. 27. Spirit Award winners: Feb. 23.

BEST FEATURE (Award given to the Producer)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Jon Kilik
I'm Not There, Producers: Christine Vachon, John Sloss, John Goldwyn, James D. Stern
* Juno, Producers: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Mason Novick, Russell Smith
A Mighty Heart, Producers: Dede Gardner, Andrew Eaton, Brad Pitt
Paranoid Park, Producers: Neil Kopp, David Cress

BEST FOREIGN FILM (Award given to the director)
4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Director: Cristian Mungiu (Romania)
The Band's Visit, Director: Eran Kolirin (Israel)
Lady Chatterley, Director: Pascale Ferran (France)
* Once, Director: John Carney (Ireland)
Persepolis, Directors: Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi (France)

BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)
2 Days in Paris, Director: Julie Delpy, Producers: Julie Delpy, Christophe Mazodier, Thierry Potok
Great World of Sound, Director: Craig Zobel, Producers: Melissa Palmer, David Gordon Green, Richard Wright, Craig Zobel
* The Lookout, Director: Scott Frank, Producers: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Laurence Mark, Walter Parkes
Rocket Science, Director: Jeffrey Blitz, Producers: Effie T. Brown, Sean Welch
Vanaja, Director: Rajnesh Domalpalli, Producer: Latha R. Domalapalli

BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director)
* Crazy Love, Director: Dan Klores
Lake of Fire, Director: Tony Kaye
Manufactured Landscapes, Director: Jennifer Baichwal
The Monastery, Director: Pernille Rose Grønkjær
The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair, Directors: Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker

Todd Haynes, I'm Not There
Tamara Jenkins, The Savages
Jason Reitman, Juno
* Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Gus Van SantParanoid Park

Pedro Castaneda, August Evening
Don CheadleTalk to Me
* Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Savages
Frank LangellaStarting Out in the Evening
Tony Leung, Lust, Caution

Angelina Jolie, A Mighty Heart
Sienna Miller, Interview
* Ellen Page, Juno
Parker Posey, Broken English
Tang Wei, Lust, Caution

* Chiwetel Ejiofor, Talk to Me
Marcus Carl Franklin, I'm Not There
Kene Holliday, Great World of Sound
Irrfan Khan, The Namesake
Steve Zahn, Rescue Dawn

* Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Anna Kendrick, Rocket Science
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Margot at the Wedding
Tamara Podemski, Four Sheets to the Wind
Marisa Tomei, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
* Tamara Jenkins, The Savages
Fred Parnes & Andrew Wagner, Starting Out in the Evening
Adrienne Shelly, Waitress
Mike White, Year of the Dog

Jeffrey Blitz, Rocket Science
Zoe Cassavetes, Broken English
* Diablo Cody, Juno
Kelly Masterson, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
John Orloff, A Mighty Heart

Mott Hupfel, The Savages
* Janusz Kaminski, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Milton Kam, Vanaja
Mihai Malaimare, Jr., Youth Without Youth
Rodrigo Prieto, Lust, Caution

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (Given to the best feature made for under $500,000; award given to the writer, director, and producer)
* August Evening, Writer/Director: Chris Eska, Producers: Connie Hill, Jason Wehling
Owl and the Sparrow, Writer/Director: Stephane Gauger, Producers: Nguyen Van Quan, Doan Nhat Nam, Stephane Gauger
The Pool, Director: Chris Smith, Producer: Kate Noble, Writers: Chris Smith & Randy Russell
Quiet City, Director: Aaron Katz, Producers: Brendan McFadden, Ben Stambler, Writers: Aaron Katz, Erin Fisher, Cris Lankenau
Shotgun Stories, Writer/Director: Jeff Nichols, Producers: David Gordon Green, Lisa Muskat, Jeff Nichols

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD (Given to one film's director, casting director and its ensemble cast)
* I'm Not There
Director: Todd Haynes
Casting Director: Laura Rosenthal
Ensemble Cast: Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Richard GereHeath Ledger, Ben Whishaw, Marcus Carl Franklin, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Bruce Greenwood

Anne Clements, producer of Ping Pong Playa and Quinceañera
Alexis Ferris, producer of Cthulhu and Police Beat
* Neil Kopp, producer of Paranoid Park and Old Joy

* Laura Dunn for The Unforeseen
Gary Hustwit for Helvetica
John Maringouin for Running Stumbled

* Ramin Bahrani, director of Chop Shop
Ronnie Bronstein, director of Frownland
Lee Isaac Chung, director of Munyurangabo

Producers Award Nominating Committee: Scott Macaulay (Chair), Gina Kwon, Anne Walker-McBay, Lianne Halfon, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte

Truer Than Fiction Award Nominating Committee: John Vanco (Chair), Cara Mertes, A.J. Schnack, Dennis Lim, Laura Poitras

IFC/Acura Someone to Watch Award Nominating Committee: Scott Foundas (Chair), Effie T. Brown, Lisa Kennedy, Bryan Poyser, Maud Nadler

Rape of Nanking + Abused Haitian Workers: Oscar Documentary Semifinalists

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today the list of 15 films in the Documentary Feature category that will move forward to the next voting phase for the 80th Academy Awards. Seventy feature documentaries had originally qualified in that category. Those were watched by the Academy's Documentary Branch screening committee for the preliminary round of voting.

This year's potential Oscar nominees offer a wide range of subjects, from the portrayal of a disabled U.S. veteran fighting for an end to the Iraq War in Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro's Body of War to the high cost of (inadequate) health care in the United States in Michael Moore's Sicko.

Among the documentaries whose themes give seizures to right-wing ideologues everywhere are the study of the use of torture by American forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo in Taxi to the Dark Side by Alex Gibney; Daniel G. Karslake's For the Bible Tells Me So (top photo), about the misuse of the Bible to condemn homosexuality; and Steven Okazaki's White Light/Black Rain, about the aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

Also, Charles Ferguson's No End in Sight shows how the George W. Bush administration created – and has helped to perpetuate – the bloody Iraqi chaos; Bill Haney's The Price of Sugar, narrated by Paul Newman, follows Father Christopher Hartley, whose fight for the rights of abused Haitian workers in the Dominican Republic has brought on the wrath of locals who believe that foreign workers exist so they can be ruthlessly exploited; and Peter Raymont's A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman takes Ariel Dorfman, Chile's Cultural Adviser to Salvador Allende, on a trip to the country from where he had to flee decades earlier following Augusto Pinochet's U.S.-backed military coup. (Dorfman's comments about tapped telephone wires remain quite relevant, and not only in Chile.)

And finally, Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman's Nanking tells the story of a small group of foreigners who saved thousands of Chinese during the “Rape of Nanking” in the late 1930s, when members of the Japanese Imperial Army – doing their bit for their country – ransacked the city, murdering and raping tens of thousands of people. (Japanese right-wingers to this day insist that the massacre never took place.) Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen, and Nicole Newnham's The Rape of Europa, for its part, shows how the Nazis pillaged Europe's cultural heritage. (Surely there are German right-wingers who deny that ever happened.) The documentary is narrated by Joan Allen.

Still on a political plane, but with different approaches, are Sean Fine and Andrea Nix's War/Dance, about how three children from a Uganda refugee camp struggle to compete in that country's national music and dance festival; Richard Robbins' Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, an attempt to convey the feelings of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan through their letters; and Tony Kaye's Lake of Fire, which reportedly provides a balanced take on both sides of the abortion issue.

Tricia Regan's Autism: The Musical, about a group of autistic kids putting on a show, and Weijun Chen's Please Vote for Me, about third graders competing for the role of class reporter (as in one who reports on others who misbehave) at their school in China's Wahun province, seem to be the only feel-good documentaries in competition.

The 15 films are listed below in alphabetical order:

Autism: The Musical.

Body of War.

For the Bible Tells Me So.

Lake of Fire.


No End in Sight.

Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience.

Please Vote for Me.

The Price of Sugar.

A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman.

The Rape of Europa.


Taxi to the Dark Side.


White Light/Black Rain.

Five of the above films will receive Oscar nominations.

The 80th Academy Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 22, 2008, at 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time, in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

The Oscar ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2008, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center. In the US, it'll be televised live by ABC.

Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submissions

A record 63 countries, including newcomers Azerbaijan and Ireland, have submitted films for consideration in the Foreign Language Film category for the 80th Academy Awards.

(See Oscar 2008: Best Foreign Language Film Shortlist)

The 2007 submissions are:

Argentina, “XXY,” Lucia Puenzo, director;

Australia, “The Home Song Stories,” Tony Ayres, director;

Austria, “The Counterfeiters,” Stefan Ruzowitzky, director;

Azerbaijan, “Caucasia,” Farid Gumbatov, director;

Bangladesh, “On the Wings of Dreams,” Golam Rabbany Biplob, director;

Belgium, “Ben X,” Nic Balthazar, director;

Bosnia and Herzegovina, “It's Hard to Be Nice,” Srdan Vuletic, director;

Brazil, “The Year My Parents Went on Vacation,” Cao Hamburger, director;

Bulgaria, “Warden of the Dead,” Ilian Simeonov, director;

Canada, “Days of Darkness,” Denys Arcand, director;

Chile, “Padre Nuestro,” Rodrigo Sepulveda, director;

China, “The Knot,” Yin Li, director;

Colombia, “Satanas,” Andi Baiz, director;

Croatia, “Armin,” Ognjen Svilicic, director;

Cuba, “The Silly Age,” Pavel Giroud, director;

Czech Republic, “I Served the King of England,” Jiri Menzel, director;

Denmark, “The Art of Crying,” Peter Schonau Fog, director;

Egypt, “In the Heliopolis Flat,” Mohamed Khan, director;

Estonia, “The Class,” Ilmar Raag, director;

Finland, “A Man's Job,” Aleksi Salmenpera, director;

France, “Persepolis,” Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud, directors;

Georgia, “The Russian Triangle,” Aleko Tsabadze, director;

Germany, “The Edge of Heaven,” Fatih Akin, director;

Greece, “Eduart,” Angeliki Antoniou, director;

Hong Kong, “Exiled,” Johnnie To, director;

Hungary, “Taxidermia,” Gyorgy Palfi, director;

Iceland, “Jar City,” Baltasar Kormakur, director;

India, “Eklavya - The Royal Guard,” Vidhu Vinod Chopra, director;

Indonesia, “Denias, Singing on the Cloud,” John De Rantau, director;

Iran, “M for Mother,” Rasoul Mollagholipour, director;

Iraq, “Jani Gal,” Jamil Rostami, director;

Ireland, “Kings,” Tom Collins, director;

Israel, “Beaufort,” Joseph Cedar, director;

Italy, “The Unknown,” Giuseppe Tornatore, director;

Japan, “I Just Didn't Do It,” Masayuki Suo, director;

Kazakhstan, “Mongol,” Sergei Bodrov, director;

Korea, “Secret Sunshine,” Chang-dong Lee, director;

Lebanon, “Caramel,” Nadine Labaki, director;

Luxembourg, “Little Secrets,” Pol Cruchten, director;

Macedonia, “Shadows,” Milcho Manchevski, director;

Mexico, “Silent Light,” Carlos Reygadas, director;

The Netherlands, “Duska,” Jos Stelling, director;

Norway, “Gone with the Woman,” Petter Naess, director;

Peru, “Crossing a Shadow,” Augusto Tamayo, director;

Philippines, “Donsol,” Adolfo Alix Jr., director;

Poland, “Katyn,” Andrzej Wajda, director;

Portugal, “Belle Toujours,” Manoel de Oliveira, director;

Puerto Rico, “Love Sickness,” Carlitos Ruiz, Mariem Perez, directors;

Romania, “4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” Cristian Mungiu, director;

Russia, “12,” Nikita Mikhalkov, director;

Serbia, “The Trap,” Srdan Golubovic, director;

Singapore, “881,” Royston Tan, director;

Slovakia, “Return of the Storks,” Martin Repka, director;

Slovenia, “Short Circuits,” Janez Lapajne, director;

Spain, “The Orphanage,” J.A. Bayona, director;

Sweden, “You, the Living,” Roy Andersson, director;

Switzerland, “Late Bloomers,” Bettina Oberli, director;

Taiwan, “Island Etude,” Chen Huai-En, director;

Thailand, “King of Fire,” Chatrichalerm Yukol, director;

Turkey, “A Man's Fear of God,” Ozer Kiziltan, director;

Uruguay, “The Pope's Toilet,” Enrique Fernandez, Cesar Charlone, directors;

Venezuela, “Postcards from Leningrad,” Mariana Rondon, director;

Vietnam, “The White Silk Dress,” Luu Huynh, director.

Nominations for the 2008 Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2007 will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network.

Christian de Portzamparc
Christian de Portzamparc to design A.M.P.A.S.'s Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Christian de Portzamparc to Design Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will be designed by the French architecture firm Atelier Christian de Portzamparc. (Image: Christian de Portzamparc.)

The Casablanca-born Christian de Portzamparc, a graduate of Paris' École Nationale des Beaux Arts and winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1994, designed the Cité de la Musique, the headquarters for the press group Le Monde, the Musée Bourdelle, and the Café Beaubourg in the French capital, in addition to the French Embassy building in Berlin, the Crédit Lyonnais tower in Lille, the Philharmonie Luxembourg, and the Musée Hergé in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. In the United States, de Portzamparc designed the LVMH Tower (the Moët Hennessy-Louis Vuitton headquarters) in New York City.

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures to show how 'film both reflects and shapes world culture'

In a press release, the Academy's Architect Selection Subcommittee chair Jeannine Oppewall was quoted as saying that “in part, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will demonstrate how film both reflects and shapes world culture, not just American culture. So we researched and interviewed leading architects from all over the world to see who could best express the Academy's vision of the museum. Ultimately, it was de Portzamparc who seemed the most in tune with that vision, and we know he and his team will have an exciting, creative approach to bringing it to fruition.”

The Academy wants the Museum of Motion Pictures to be located next to its Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study at Vine Street and Fountain Avenue in Hollywood. A planned museum campus will span nearly eight acres.

Work on the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is slated to begin in 2009.

Christian de Portzamparc photo: AFP / Jean-Pierre Muller.

48th Thessaloniki Film Festival Awards - Golden Alexander

The 48th Thessaloniki Film Festival was held between November 16-25, 2007.

In Shangjun Cai's The Red Awn, after a five-year absence a middle-aged man (Yao Anlian) returns to his hometown to reclaim his house but is told that he is, as per the local registry, officially dead. The living dead man must then regain his place both in society and within his family, as he must now become reacquainted with his young son (Lu Yulai).

Golden Alexander Award for Best Film: The Red Awn / Hongse Kangbaiyin(China) by Shangjun Cai

Shot in one continuous take, Spyros StathopoulosPVC-1 is a based-on-a-true-story drama about a kidnap victim (Merida Urquia) who is turned into a human time bomb after her family fails to pay for her ransom.

Silver Alexander Award: PVC-1 by Spyros Stathopoulos (Colombia)

Best Director: Veiko Ounpuu for Autumn Ball (Estonia)

Best Actor: Alberto Sornoza for PVC-1 (Colombia)

Best Actress: Anna Lalasidou for Elli Makra - 42277 Wuppertal (Greece)

Best Screenplay: Thanos Anastasopoulos and Vassilis Raisis for Correction(Greece)

Artistic Achievement Award: Jonas Cuaron for Año Uña / The Year of The Nail(Mexico)

FIPRESCI (International Film Critics) Award for a film in the International Competition Section: PVC-1 by Spiros Stathoulopoulos, Colombia / Greece / USA

For a film in the Greek Films section: i EPISTROFI (THE HOMECOMING) by Vassilis Douvlis, Greece


For a film in the International Competition section: PVC-1 by Spiros Stathoulopoulos, Colombia / Greece / USA

For a film in the Greek Films 2007 section: EL GRECO by Iannis Smaragdis, Greece

For a film in the Balkan Survey section: BEYNELMILEL (THE INTERNATIONAL) by Sirri Sureyya Onder and Muharrem Gulmez, Turkey

For a film in the Greek Films DigitalWave section: YAGONAN: THE DARK DAYS OF DOOM by Yagos Raftopoulos, Greece

HUMAN VALUES AWARD for a film in the Independence Days ID-07 section: SZTUCZKI (Tricks) by Andrzej Jakimowski, Poland





CROSSROADS - Co-production Forum Award: THE POLICEMAN by Navad Lapid, Israel - Producers Edgar Tenembaum, Geraldine Michelot

BALKAN FUND - Script Development Awards:

RIO - Writers: Nicolas Panoutsopoulos & Argyris Germanidis - Director/Producer: Nicolas Panoutsopoulos, Greece
THE POOR LITTLE THINGS - Writer: Onder Cakar - Director: Ayhan Hacifazlioglu - Producer: Sevil Demirci Cakar, Turkey
FIRST OF ALL, FELICIA - Writers/Directors: Melissa De Raaf & Razvan Radulescu -Producer: Ada Solomon, Romania
MOTHER - Writer/Director: Juraj Lerotic - Producer: Dana Budisavljevic, Croatia


METASTASES -Director: Branko Schmidt -Producer: Stanislav Babic, Croatia
SOME OTHER STORIES- Writers/ Directors: Ana Maria Rossi / Ines Tanovic /Maria Dzizeva / Hanna Slak / Ivona Juka - Producer: Nenad Dukoc, Serbia / Montenegro

International Competition Jury: Jirí Menzel, Director (CzechRepublic), President; Lucrecia Martel, Director (Argentina); Yasmin Ahmad, Director / Producer / Actress (Malaysia); Michael Fitzgerald, Producer (USA); Nae Caranfil, Director (Romania); Fred Roos, Producer (USA); Olga Brumas, Poet / Professor (Greece)

FIPRESCI Jury: Alin Tasciyan, President (Turkey); Pablo Utin (Israel); Shahla Nahid (France); Raghavendra Mirle (India); Dimitris Babas (Greece)

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