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.]
"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.]