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Gotham Awards laud best indie features

'Sideways,' 'Huckabees,' 'Sunrise' up for top prize

Features from a host of indie darlings — including Alexander Payne, David O. Russell and Richard Linklater — will compete for the newly created best feature honor at this year’s Gotham Awards. It’s the first year that the IFP/New York has included such an award as it looks to jazz up its annual fundraiser, the Gothams, and relaunch the event smack in the fray of awards season.

Competing for the top prize will be Payne’s “Sideways,” Russell’s “I Heart Huckabees” and Linklater’s “Before Sunrise,” as well as newcomer Shane Carruth’s “Primer” and music vid vet Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

In the Gothams’ new best docu category will be Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Jonathan Demme’s “The Agronomist,” Ross McElwee’s “Bright Leaves,” Jonathan Caouette’s “Tarnation” and Jessica Yu’s “In the Realms of the Unreal.”

Festivities are skedded for Dec. 1, and will air live on IFC from Manhattan’s Chelsea Piers.

The 14th annual gala will give this year’s Filmmaker Lifetime Achievement honor to U.K. auteur and “Vera Drake” helmer Mike Leigh.

New Yorker Films’ Dan Talbot has been tapped to receive the Industry Lifetime Achievement award, which has previously gone to onetime UA head Bingham Ray and to Sony Pictures Classics.

Winners in the new competitive categories will be selected by jury, not through IFP/New York’s membership, explained IFP/New York exec director Michelle Byrd.

“With our date change we thought we could expand our basic Gothams tribute concept and give a nod toward our proximity to awards season,” she added. “We believe that filmmaking that is more firmly in the grasp of filmmakers, and not made by committee, is the type of work that IFP/New York should celebrate.”

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