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Gotham Awards Eliminates Budget Ceiling, Opens up Categories to International Filmmakers

Adam Sandler at the 2022 Gotham Awards. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images for The Gotham Film & Media Institute)

The Gotham Film & Media Institute, Filmmaker‘s publisher, announced today significant changes to its Gotham Awards eligibility criteria, removing entirely the previous $35 million budget cap for submitted films. That means studio films like Barbie and Oppenheimer could potentially compete against smaller-scale independents, films like 2022 nominees Best Feature nominees The Cathedral and Dos Estacionnes.

Additionally in the lead-up to an awards season already impacted by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, The Gotham announced that international films will be eligible to compete alongside U.S. titles in the following categories: Outstanding Lead Performance, Outstanding Supporting Performance, Best Screenplay, and Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award. Best Feature will be limited to U.S. features only, and Best International Feature will be open to all non-U.S. features. The Best Documentary Feature category will be open to both U.S. and international titles.

From the press release:

“For the 33rd Annual Gotham Awards, we’re excited to include more voices from around the globe by expanding eligibility for the many brilliant international films and filmmakers who deserve to be in consideration this year,” said Jeffrey Sharp, Executive Director of The Gotham Film & Media Institute. “Additionally, with shifting budgets, we’ve decided to eliminate arbitrary budget caps for submission eligibility – first instituted over a decade ago – to broaden our reach in terms of recognition and accessibility to the wider community.”

“The entire Gotham team is thrilled to kick off another year of the Gotham Awards, which has the distinct role of being the first honors of the film awards season,” said Anthony Bregman, Board of Directors Co-Chair of The Gotham Film & Media Institute. “With the decision by the Board to eliminate the budget cap and make international films eligible for more categories this year, we are excited to welcome more of the world’s best storytellers and projects into the awards season conversation.”

Over the course of its history, the Gotham Awards have fluctuated in their accommodation of larger-budgeted titles. The Gotham Awards were established in 1991, but the Best Feature competitive category was not even initiated until 2004, when Sideways took home the prize. The following year the winner was Capote before controversy ensued in 2006 when The Departed (reported budget $90 million) competed alongside ultra-low-budget films such as Old Joy and Half Nelson (the winner). The following year The Gotham eschewed a formal budget cap but stated that “an economy of means” would be a selection criteria. Over the years, that language disappeared while a budget cap was reinstated, with last year’s $35 million allowing for the winning film, Everything Everywhere All at Once, to compete against lower-budget titles like the The Cathedral and Aftersun.

The submissions deadline is September 14 for the following competition categories: Best Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best International Feature, Outstanding Lead Performance, Outstanding Supporting Performance, Best Screenplay, Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award, Breakthrough Series (Over 40 minutes), Breakthrough Series (Under 40 minutes), and Outstanding Performance in a New Series.

Gotham Award nominations will be announced October 24, and the ceremony will be held November 27 at Cipriani Wall Street. Further information about the event and submissions can be found on The Gotham Awards website.

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