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SPIRITS GO SIDEWAYS

The 2005 Independent Spirit Awards were announced this afternoon at the IFP Los Angeles’s annual ceremony on the beach in Santa Monica. For the major awards, it was a virtual sweep by Sideways — Alexander Payne’s smart comedy won six prizes. Other winners, listed below, include Garden State, The Motorcycle Diaries, Mean Creek, the filmmaker Jem Cohen, the producer Gina Kwon, and doc filmmakers Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman.

Here are the winners:

Best Picture
Sideways (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Producer: Michael London

Best Director
Alexander Payne
Sideways (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Best Screenplay
Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor
Sideways (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Best First Feature
Garden State (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Director: Zach Braff
Producers: Pamela Abdy, Gary Gilbert, Dan Halsted, Richard Klubeck

Best First Screenplay
Joshua Marston
Maria Full of Grace (HBO Films/Fine Line Features)

John Cassavetes Award
(For the Best Feature made for under $500,000)
Mean Creek (Paramount Classics)
Writer/Director: Jacob Aaron Estes
Producers: Susan Johnson, Rick Rosenthal, Hagai Shaham

Best Debut Performance*
Rodrigo de la Serna
The Motorcycle Diaries (Focus Features)
*Actors making their first appearance in a feature film

Best Supporting Female
Virginia Madsen
Sideways (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Best Supporting Male
Thomas Haden Church
Sideways (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Best Female Lead
Catalina Sandino Moreno
Maria Full of Grace (HBO Films/Fine Line Features)

Best Male Lead
Paul Giamatti
Sideways (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Best Cinematography
Eric Gautier
The Motorcycle Diaries (Focus Features)

Best Foreign Film
The Sea Inside (Fine Line Features)
Director: Alejandro Amenabar

Best Documentary
Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (IFC Films)
Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky

Gina Kwon, producer of Me and You and Everyone We Know and The Motel, received the eighth annual Bravo/American Express Producers Award, which honors producers who, despite highly limited resources, demonstrate the creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce quality independent films. The winner of the Producers Award received an unrestricted grant of $20,000 funded by Bravo and American Express.

Jem Cohen, director of Chain, won the eleventh annual Turning Leaf Someone To Watch Award, a $20,000 grant created to honor a director of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition. The award is funded by Turning Leaf Vineyards.

Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman, directors of Born Into Brothels, won the eighth annual DIRECTV/IFC Truer Than Fiction Award, presented to an emerging director of non-fiction features. The award is accompanied by a $20,000 unrestricted grant funded by DIRECTV and IFC.

A Special Distinction Award was given to the ensemble cast of Mean Creek: Rory Culkin, Ryan Kelley, Scott Mechlowicz, Trevor Morgan, Josh Peck, and Carly Schroeder. The nominating committee was struck by these young actors who turned in performances so uniformly unselfish and so intricately in tune with each other that it became impossible to single any one of them out from their extraordinary achievement together.
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