Lesser known pix may get advocates

When even the San Diego and the Las Vegas film critics started to hand out and publicize their own year-end awards, critics’ groups in larger cities decided they weren’t going to be left out. This year, both San Francisco and Seattle formed groups to hand out awards. Both burgs are known as film-loving cities with quite a few well-regarded publications and name critics, giving their awards a bit of heft — although they might never attain the status of the venerable Los Angeles and New York crix groups.

“It’s a way for film critics to advocate for little movies or performances that might otherwise go overlooked, a way of championing something that might fall through the cracks,” says Seattle voting chairman Robert Horton, who writes for daily paper the Herald in Everett, Wash., and reviews for the local NPR station. Seattle’s committee was organized by film appreciation society Parallax View.

Horton stresses that voters will be required to have a track record writing in Seattle. He says the 24-member voting committee skewed younger than some critics groups, as evidenced by its voting “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” as best picture runner-up to “Far From Heaven.”

The San Francisco Film Critics Circle was formed to help area critics “be a little bit more collegial,” according to Mary Pols of the Contra Costa Times, as well as to advocate with the studios for earlier and better organized screenings.

“Studios are excited by any opportunity to win another award,” Pols says. “San Franciscans love movies, (and) there are lots of documentary filmmakers here.”

She says the group, now with 15 members, will emphasize credibility and require a large number of print reviews for membership. In future years, the group plans to award an honor to a local filmmaker and host a ceremony.

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