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‘FARGO’ BY A NOSE

Coen bros. pic leads IFP noms list with 6

New York Film Critics picture winner “Fargo” led the list of nominees with six citings including picture at the announcements Thursday of the 1997 Independent Spirit Awards ballot. Close behind with five mentions were the period gangster drama “The Funeral” and last year’s Sundance Grand Prize winner “Welcome to the Dollhouse.”

Presented annually by the Independent Feature Project/West, the Indie Spirits are the specialized arena’s Oscar equivalent. However, in a year in which indie productions have dominated critics association prizes and Golden Globe noms, the Spirit slate seems less like an alternative to the mainstream than in the past.

“We’re very pleased and proud of this year’s slate,” IFP/West exec director Dawn Hudson said. “Looking at the list truly reflects the talent, diversity and strength of the independent sector.”

In addition to “Fargo,” “Funeral” and “Dollhouse,” the picture slate comprises John Sayles’ “Lone Star” and the offbeat Western “Dead Man” from filmmaker Jim Jarmusch. This year 107 features were submitted for consideration to the awards nominating committee with 21 films figuring into the 11 categories it presents to American indies. An additional 35 movies were entered in the foreign-film category.

This year’s nominees reflect a tightening up of the guidelines for eligibility, specifically as it relates to the section of “economy of means” and rules that provide for inclusion as a U.S. indie if two of the three chief creators – producer, director, writer – are American citizens or permanent residents. High-budget absentees include Woody Allen’s “Everyone Says I Love You,” the Robert Altman-directed “Kansas City” and the screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Emma.”

“Fargo” and “The Funeral” were the only films to receive nods for picture, direction and screenplay. The top individual winner was Stanley Tucci of “Big Night,” who was cited three times for his leading performance, co-writing the script.

In the distribution ranks, Sony Pictures Classics led the field with 18 nominations spread out over five titles. Miramax movies received 15 spots on the ballot with October next with eight and Gramercy and Orion releases each receiving seven citings. Fox Searchlight and New Line got single mentions with the former’s “She’s the One” totally shut out and the latter a surprise no show in foreign for the critically acclaimed “Shine.”

A complete list of nominees follows:

FEATURE

“Dead Man” – Miramax, producer: Demetra J. MacBride

“Fargo” – Gramercy, producer: Ethan Coen

“The Funeral” – October, producer: Mary Kane

“Lone Star” – Sony Classics, producers: R. Paul Miller, Maggie Renzi

“Welcome to the Dollhouse” – Sony Classics, producer: Todd Solondz

FIRST FEATURE

Campbell Scott, Stanley Tucci – “Big Night” (Orion)

Mary Harron- “I Shot Andy Warhol” (Orion)

Lisa Krueger – “Manny & Lo” (Sony Classics)

Billy Bob Thorton – “Sling Blade” (Miramax)

Steve Buscemi – “Trees Lounge” (Orion)

DIRECTOR

Joel Coen – “Fargo”

Abel Ferrara – “The Funeral”

David O. Russell – “Flirting With Disaster”

Todd Solondz – “Welcome to the Dollhouse”

Robert M. Young – “Caught”

ACTRESS

Maria Conchita Alonzo – “Caught”

Scarlett Johansson – “Manny & Lo”

Catherine Keener – “Walking and Talking”

Frances McDormand – “Fargo”

Renee Zellweger – “The Whole Wide World”

ACTOR

Chris Cooper – “Lone Star”

William H. Macy – “Fargo”

Chris Penn – “The Funeral”

Tony Shalhoub – “Big Night”

Stanley Tucci – “Big Night”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Queen Latifah – “Set It Off”

Elizabeth Pena – “Lone Star”

Mary Kay Place – “Manny & Lo”

Lili Taylor – “Girls Town”

Lily Tomlin – “Flirting With Disaster”

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Kevin Corrigan – “Walking and Talking”

Benico Del Toro – “Basquiat”

Matthew Faber – “Welcome to the Dollhouse”

Gary Farmer – “Dead Man”

Richard Jenkins – “Flirting With Disaster”

DEBUT PERFORMANCE

Jena Malone – “Bastard Out of Carolina”

Heather Matarazzo – “Welcome to the Dollhouse”

Brendan Sexton Jr. – “Welcome to the Dollhouse”

Arie Vereen – “Caught”

Jeffrey Wright – “Basquiat”

SCREENPLAY

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen – “Fargo”

Jim Jarmusch – “Dead Man”

David O. Russell – “Flirting With Disaster”

John Sayles – “Lone Star”

Nicholas St. John – “The Funeral”

FIRST SCREENPLAY

Suzan-Lori Parks – “Girl 6”

Lisa Krueger – “Manny & Lo”

Michael Scott Myers – “The Whole Wide World”

Steve Buscemi – “Trees Lounge”

Stanley Tucci, Joseph Tropiano – “Big Night”

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Roger Deakins – “Fargo”

Ken Kelsh – “The Funeral”

Robby Muller – “Dead Man”

Bill Pope – “Bound”

Rob Sweeney – “Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day”

FOREIGN FILM

“Breaking the Waves” – October (Denmark)

“Chungking Express” – Miramax (Hong Kong)

“Lamerica” – New Yorker (Italy)

“Secrets & Lies” – October (U.K.)

“Trainspotting – Miramax (U.K.)

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