IFP taps thesp for breakthrough gong

Gyllenhaal to receive honor at Gotham Awards on Sept. 26

The Independent Feature Project/New York will present Maggie Gyllenhaal with the breakthrough actor award for her performance in Steven Shainberg’s “Secretary,” the Sundance entry acquired by Lions Gate.

Nod, to be presented at the Gotham Awards on Sept. 26 at Pier Sixty in Chelsea, is for a breakthrough performance in an independent film acquired and/or released theatrically or via TV broadcast between September 2001 and September 2002.

In addition, the third annual Anthony Radziwill documentary achievement award will be presented to “Two Towns of Jasper,” co-directed by Marco Williams and Whitney Dow.

Feature-length doc concerns the 1998 racially motivated murder of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas. A collaborative effort between a black and white filmmaker, it records the divergent experiences of black and white Jasper residents during the three trials of the local men charged with chaining Byrd to the back of a truck and dragging him to his death.

The doc had its first industry screening as a work-in-progress at the IFP Market.

“Secretary” is an offbeat romantic comedy about a twisted relationship between a lawyer and his assistant, adapted from the short story by Mary Gatskill.

“Maggie Gyllenhaal has shown astonishing depth onscreen in a variety of independent films,” said Michelle Byrd, executive director of IFP/New York. “As a New York resident and an actor who continues to push the envelope, she defines what the Gotham Award stands for.”

Gyllenhaal is the daughter of screenwriter Naomi Foner (Academy Award nominee for “Running on Empty”) and director Stephen Gyllenhaal (“The Waterdance”), and the sister of actor Jake Gyllenhaal. She has appeared in “Donnie Darko,” “Riding in Cars With Boys” and “Cecil B. Demented.” “Secretary” is Gyllenhaal’s first starring role and will be released by Lions Gate on Sept. 20. Upcoming films include “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” helmed by George Clooney; “Casa de Los Babys,” directed by John Sayles; and “Adaptation,” helmed by Spike Jonze.

The Anthony Radziwill documentary award was established in memory of Lee Radziwill’s son to recognize an emerging New York filmmaker whose first or second feature-length doc signals an extraordinary talent. Anthony Radziwill, an Emmy-winning documentary producer, succumbed to his 10-year battle with cancer at the age of 40 in August 1999. Last year’s recipient was Edet Belzberg’s Academy Award-nominated “Children Underground.”

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