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Indie Spirits Move Their Awards Show

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 19, 2009 at 5:35AM

The biggest story out of the recent New York Film Festival had nothing to do with the movies shown at that 17-day fest. No, the subject of heated discussion wasn't the opening night selection Wild Grass or Lars von Trier's Antichrist: it was the change of venue of the opening night party. The indie world did not convene on Tavern on the Green as it had for more than thirty years. In a budget-cutting move, new Film Society of Lincoln Center chief Mara Manus saved $150,000 by cutting back the list and throwing a more intimate party at the new Alice Tully Hall.
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Thompson on Hollywood

The biggest story out of the recent New York Film Festival had nothing to do with the movies shown at that 17-day fest. No, the subject of heated discussion wasn't the opening night selection Wild Grass or Lars von Trier's Antichrist: it was the change of venue of the opening night party. The indie world did not convene on Tavern on the Green as it had for more than thirty years. In a budget-cutting move, new Film Society of Lincoln Center chief Mara Manus saved $150,000 by cutting back the list and throwing a more intimate party at the new Alice Tully Hall.

Similarly, Los Angeles' indie community is crestfallen that their annual Saturday pre-Oscars Santa Monica tent ritual has been moved to Friday night March 5 at LA Live in downtown Los Angeles.

[John Waters at the Indie Spirits, 2009.]

Thompson on Hollywood

"We wanted to do something very special and different for the 25th Anniversary by holding the only late-night awards show, where our audience can tune-in live at 11:00 pm on the East Coast," stated Film Independent executive director Dawn Hudson. "Our new venue will still have the laid-back, no-holds-barred atmosphere that only the independent film community can create."

This isn't just another annual award show. It's a social event, in the daytime, the day before the Oscars, on the beach. And the Indie Spirits really takes place outside the tent, before, during and after the show, where the attendees: agents, producers, directors, writers, actors, distributors and journalists all hang out. And after the prizes are handed out for the year's best in indie cinema, everyone repairs for serious drinks and noisy chatter down the beach at IFC's annual party at Shutters. It just won't be the same.

Sure, some folks will make the trek to a tent downtown. But while Hudson saw an opportunity to take advantage of both the Indie Spirits' 25th anniversary and the economy to save thousands of dollars and grab a prime time "live and uncut" IFC cable slot, she knows that it's likely she'll be back at the beach in 2011. On the other hand, the year of the Writers Strike, Vanity Fair saw strong reason to opt out of its annual Oscar party. Now they're back--in a smaller venue.

Good Hollywood rituals are hard to lose.

[FIND's Dawn Hudson at the Indie Spirits, 2009.]

This article is related to: Awards, Independents, Oscars, Indie Spirits


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.