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Spirits, Without a Home, Fight Against a Stacked Deck

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik February 23, 2007 at 2:49AM

Spirits, Without a Home, Fight Against a Stacked Deck
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On the eve of the 2005 Spirit Awards, Film Independent's Dawn Hudson admitted to me, with some regret, "Films with the highest box office often win." It's the sad truth of most award shows; they're all fixed in some way or another, like the high school popularity contests we once called student elections. For this Variety article, I looked at a number of the underdogs in this year's Spirits race, those films that have struggled to find distribution or continue to remain unattached.

While it would be nice to see, for instance, "A Lion in the House," the 225-minute docu nominee about cancer-afflicted children, win against other contenders such as "The Road to Guantanamo," "My Country, My Country," and "The Trials of Darryl Hunt," how many Film Independent voters are really going to vote that way?

It's true this year's Spirit nominees are on the whole much lower profile and more decidedly indie than previous years, but do Arin Crumley ("Four Eyed Monsters"), Aaron Platt ("Wild Tigers I Have Known) or Michael Simmonds ("Man Push Cart") really stand a chance in the best cinematography category against Guillermo Navarro ("Pan's Labyrinth")? Even in a year that's seeing several newcomers enter the spotlight, they've still got the deck stacked against them with the modest ticket sales of movies like "Half Nelson," "Friends with Money," and "The Dead Girl" stealing the edge from films that haven't been marketed yet such as "Wriscutters: A Love Story," "Chalk," "Stephanie Daley," and "Steel City."

And don't even get me started on "Little Miss Sunshine"...