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Ballast dominates 18th Gotham Indie Film Award noms

The IFP announced the nominees for the 18th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards and not surprisingly, it is Lance Hammer’s Ballast that came out on top with four noms: Best Feature, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor and Best Ensemble Performance.

The IFP announced the nominees for the 18th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards and not surprisingly, it is Lance Hammer’s Ballast that came out on top with four noms: Best Feature, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor and Best Ensemble Performance. Hammer’s eloquent rendering of a fractured family tree is such a solid film that we can expect a repeat pattern in nominations for the Indie Spirit Awards.
 
While nominations in many of the categories hold up well (Best Ensemble and both Breakthrough categories), it is the Best Feature category’s exclusion of Antonio CamposAfterschool and Ramin Bahrani’s Chop Shop and the inclusion of The Visitor and Frozen River that makes me wonder if the four person nominating committee had a different mandate for their selection process. While McCarthy’s film certainly has a collection of strong moments and Frozen River counts on a fine white-trash perf from Leo, they are both stale when compared to Campos and Bahrani’s execution, style and narrative strengths of their portraits. For the record, Campos deservingly picked up two noms: one for Breakthrough Director and the other for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You, while young actor Alejandro Polanco will get to wear some fine threads at the December 2nd party for his debut in Bahrani’s film. Ballast, Synecdoche, New York and The Wrestler all deservingly made the grade in this category.

BEST FEATURE
Ballast – Lance Hammer, director; Lance Hammer, Nina Parikh, producers (Alluvial Film Company)
Frozen River – Courtney Hunt, director; Heather Rae, Chip Hourihan, producers (Sony Pictures Classics)
Synecdoche, New York – Charlie Kaufman, director; Anthony Bregman, Charlie Kaufman, Spike Jonze, Sidney Kimmel, producers (Sony Pictures Classics)
The Visitor – Tom McCarthy, director; Mary Jane Skalski, Michael London, producers (Overture Films)
The Wrestler – Darren Aronofsky, director; Scott Franklin, Darren Aronofsky, producers (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Chris & Don: A Love Story – Guido Santi & Tina Mascara, directors; Julia Scott, Tina Mascara, Guido Santi, James White, producers (Zeitgeist Films)
Encounters at the End of the World – Werner Herzog, director; Henry Kaiser, producer (THINKFilm / Image Entertainment)
Man on Wire – James Marsh, director; Simon Chinn, producer (Magnolia Pictures)
Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired – Marina Zenovich, director; Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Lila Yacoub, Marina Zenovich, producers (THINKFilm in association with HBO Documentaries)
Trouble the Water – Tia Lessin & Carl Deal, producers/directors (Zeitgeist Films)

BEST ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE
Ballast – Micheal J. Smith, Sr., JimMyron Ross, Tarra Riggs, Johnny McPhail (Alluvial Film Company)
Rachel Getting Married – Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, Tunde Adebimpe, Mather Zickel, Anna Deavere Smith, Anisa George, Debra Winger (Sony Pictures Classics)
Synecdoche, New York – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener, Emily Watson, Dianne Wiest, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hope Davis, Tom Noonan (Sony Pictures Classics)
Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz (The Weinstein Company)
The Visitor – Richard Jenkins, Hiam Abbas, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira (Overture Films)

BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR
Antonio Campos for Afterschool
Dennis Dortch for A Good Day to Be Black & Sexy (Magnolia Pictures)
Lance Hammer for Ballast (Alluvial Film Company)
Barry Jenkins for Medicine for Melancholy (IFC Films)
Alex Rivera for Sleep Dealer (Maya Releasing)

BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR
Pedro Castaneda in August Evening (Maya Releasing)
Rosemarie DeWitt in Rachel Getting Married (Sony Pictures Classics)
Rebecca Hall in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (The Weinstein Company)
Melissa Leo in Frozen River (Sony Pictures Classics)
Alejandro Polanco in Chop Shop (Koch Lorber Films)
Micheal J. Smith, Sr. in Ballast (Alluvial Film Company)

BEST FILM NOT PLAYING AT A THEATER NEAR YOU™
Afterschool – Antonio Campos, director; Josh Mond, Sean Durkin, producers
Meadowlark – Taylor Greeson, producer/director
The New Year Parade – Tom Quinn, director; Steve Beal, Tom Quinn, producers
Sita Sings the Blues – Nina Paley, producer/director
Wellness – Jake Mahaffy, director; Jake Mahaffy, Jeff Clark, producers

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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