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IFP Gotham Awards shine light on indie cinema

Rodriguez, Lee among those honored at ceremony

NEW YORK — Jason Alexander surprised the crowd of more than 1,000 industryites at the 10th annual IFP Gotham Awards on Wednesday night when he started the show by singing the praises — literally — of independent film.

Alexander’s song-and-dance number conveyed the shabby charms of working on indie films. Though his own directing effort “Just Looking” kicked off this year’s IFP Market, Alexander saw fit to confirm his indie credentials: He has appeared “in dozens of films no one saw and for which I did not get paid,” he said.

“It’s very difficult to speak after you,” the serene Catherine Deneuve said to Alexander as she took the stage to present the Industry lifetime achievement award to Sony Pictures Classics trio Marcie Bloom, Michael Barker and Tom Bernard.

Susan Sarandon was on hand to present this year’s breakthrough actor award to “Girlfight” star Michelle Rodriguez, who seemed as affected by Sarandon’s proximity as she was to receive the award.

Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” was honored as a “New York classic” in the words of John Turturro, who along with Rosie Perez presented Lee with the annual Winstar Classic Film Tribute.

Tim Robbins paid glowing tribute to Robert Altman as he presented the Bravo lifetime achievement award to the director.

Other awards

Among other presentations: Sam Donaldson and philanthropist Lee Radziwill handed the Anthony Radziwill documentary achievement award to Aiyana Elliott for her film “The Ballad of Rambling Jack,” and Alexander passed Karyn Kusama the Open Palm Award for her film “Girlfight.”

Among those enjoying the evening’s repast and speeches were Gina Gershon, Uma Thurman, Ethan Hawke, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Harry Belafonte, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, Liev Schreiber, Ally Sheedy, Marcia Gay Harden, Fisher Stevens, Alan Rudolph, Darren Aronofsky, Barbara Kopple, Julian Schnabel, Melvin van Peebles, Tom Gilroy, Kenneth Lonergan, Fina Torres, Aviva Kemper, Christine Vachon, Jean Doumanian and John Sloss.

Among execs attending were Alliance Atlantis Motion Pictures chairman Victor Loewy, GreeneStreet Films heads John Penotti and Brad Yonover, Madstone Films’ head of feature development and production Eva Kolodner, USA Films senior VP Steven Raphael, Unapix Entertainment head Richard Abramowitz, WinStar Cinema VP of theatrical distribution Wendy Lidell and Sundance Channel exec VP of programming Liz Manne.

Bravo cybercasted the event, the fund-raising centerpiece of the IFP Market, live on BravoTV.com. Bravo Network aired it Thursday night. The IFP Market wraps today at the Angelika Film Center.

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