By mattdentler | Matt Dentler's Blog February 20, 2009 at 8:31AM
Thursday night in L.A. brought the annual Independent Spirit Award nominees' reception at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica. This is the time when all of us can properly prepare for Saturday's big show. It was business as usual at the Thursday reception: a "hello" speech by Film Independent (FIND) Executive Director Dawn Hudson, some more welcoming words from FIND board president Vondie Curtis-Hall, quick jokes from the show's impending host (in this case, Steve Coogan) and a special moment where the nominees stepped onstage to introduce themselves.
This is the event where folks start arriving in town for the long weekend to come. It was great to encounter the friends nominated for Spirits, like Barry Jenkins and Sean Baker and Anish Savjani and Alex Holdridge and Seth Caplan and Margaret Brown and Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen and Lance Hammer and so on and so on. While the routine of the Thursday night proceedings appeared to be nothing new, a fresh vibe came from the collection of pals waiting anxiously to know if they would walk home with Spirit Awards on Saturday.
Did it matter? Sure, it matters. Of course, it's important, and of course it can help one's career. However, I feel the Spirit Award nominees' party is the most subversive event of this long, Awards Weekend. A bunch of ragged indie film folks pile into a luxury hotel to celebrate the biggest asset indie film maintains: community. Not who wins or doesn't win, but who came to the game to play. That doesn't mean certain aforementioned friends didn't give me crap for my earlier predictions on who might win in the end. What can I say? Devoted friendship and honest award prognosticating, can sometimes be mutually exclusive.