When the nominations for this year's IFP Gotham Awards were announced there was widespread criticism and head-scratching as to how the traditionally indie-oriented organization had found a way to include such relatively big-budget, studio-released films as "Marie Antoinette" and "The Departed."
However, when the awards were handed out on Wednesday night it was "Half Nelson," a small-budgeted independent film, which was the night's big winner, taking home three prizes including Best Feature.
"Half Nelson" director Ryan Fleck also took home a prize for Breakthrough Director, and Shareeka Epps shared the Breakthrough Actor award with Rinko Kikuchi from "Babel."
The cast of "Babel," including Kikuchi, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Koji Yakusho, Adriana Barraza, Said Tarchani, and Boubker Ait El Caid won a prize for Best Ensemble Cast.
"Iraq In Fragments" won for Best Documentary, while "Choking Man," directed by Steve Barron, won for Best Film Not Playing In A Theater Near You, a prize for undistributed films.
Special tribute awards were given to actors Kate Winslet, Edward Norton and Tim Robbins, producers and distributors Marc Cuban and Todd Wagner, cinematographer Ellen Kuras, and directors Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
During the awards show at New York City's Chelsea Piers, host David Cross acknowledged the controversy over the nominations numerous times, such as when he jokingly referred to "The Departed" as one of "the little movies that could."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times