New York, NY (October 20, 2011) – The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers announced today the nominees for the Gotham Independent Film Awards™. Signaling the kick-off to the film awards season, IFP’s Gotham Independent Film Awards™ nominations were given to a total of 24 films across six competitive categories for Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor, Best Ensemble Performance, and Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.

The Gotham Awards’ ceremony will be held on Monday, November 28th at Cipriani Wall Street. In addition to the competitive awards, Charlize Theron, Gary Oldman, David Cronenberg and Tom Rothman will each be presented with a career tribute.

As the first major awards ceremony of the film season, the Gotham Independent Film Awards™ provide critical early recognition and media attention to worthy independent films. Previous winners for Best Feature and Best Documentary include WINTER’S BONE (2010), THE OATH (2010), THE HURT LOCKER (2009), FOOD, INC (2009), FROZEN RIVER (2008) and TROUBLE THE WATER (2008). The awards are also unique for their ability to assist in catapulting award recipients prominently into national awards season attention, including recent winners and ultimate Oscar® contenders: feature winners WINTER’S BONE (2010) and THE HURT LOCKER (2009); Breakthrough Actors Melissa Leo (2008), Ellen Page (2007), Rinko Kikuchi (2006) and Amy Adams (2005).

Primary criteria for nomination consideration includes American (US-based or US-born directors and producers), feature-length films made with a point of view. Additional criteria include independently distributed films made with an economy of means. For a complete list of criteria, see http://gotham.ifp.org.

Selecting this year’s nominees were 21 film critics, journalists, and curators (see list below). Separate juries of writers, directors, actors, producers, editors and others directly involved in making films will determine final award recipients.

“The high caliber of this year’s Gotham Awards nominees’ work is truly remarkable,” said Joana Vicente, Executive Director of IFP. “This extraordinary group of filmmakers and talent, both established and new, are breaking barriers and finding fresh, innovative ways to engage audiences through unique storytelling. We’re passionate about shedding light on well deserved independent cinema and excited to begin what is sure to be a momentous awards season.”

The nominees for the 21st Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards are:

Best Feature

Beginners
Mike Mills, director; Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Miranda de Pencier, Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, producers (Focus Features)

The Descendants
Alexander Payne, director; Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor, producers (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Meek’s Cutoff
Kelly Reichardt, director; Neil Kopp, Anish Savjani, Elizabeth Cuthrell, David Urrutia, producers (Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Take Shelter
Jeff Nichols, director; Tyler Davidson, Sophia Lin, producers (Sony Pictures Classics)

The Tree of Life
Terrence Malick, director; Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Grant Hill, producers (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Best Documentary

Better This World
Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega, directors; Katie Galloway, Kelly Duane de la Vega, Mike Nicholson, producers (Loteria Films, Picturebox, Motto Pictures and Passion Pictures; ITVS in association with American Documentary | POV)

Bill Cunningham New York
Richard Press, director; Philip Gefter, producer (Zeitgeist Films)

Hell and Back Again
Danfung Dennis, director; Mike Lerner, Martin Herring, producers (Docurama Films)

The Interrupters
Steve James, director; Alex Kotlowitz, Steve James, producers (The Cinema Guild)

The Woodmans
C. Scott Willis, director; Neil Barrett, Jeff Werner, C. Scott Willis, producers (Lorber Films; Kino Lorber, Inc.)

Best Ensemble Performance

Beginners
Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic, Kai Lennox, Mary Page Keller, Keegan Boos (Focus Features)

The Descendants
George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Robert Forster, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Nick Krause, Amara Miller, Mary Birdsong, Rob Huebel (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Margin Call
Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Aasif Mandvi (Roadside Attractions)

Martha Marcy May Marlene
Elizabeth Olsen, Christopher Abbott, Brady Corbet, Hugh Dancy, Maria Dizzia, Julia Garner, John Hawkes, Louisa Krause, Sarah Paulson (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Take Shelter
Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker, Ray McKinnon, Lisagay Hamilton, Robert Longstreet (Sony Pictures Classics)

Breakthrough Director

Mike Cahill for Another Earth (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Sean Durkin for Martha Marcy May Marlene (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Vera Farmiga for Higher Ground (Sony Pictures Classics)

Evan Glodell for Bellflower (Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Dee Rees for Pariah (Focus Features)

Breakthrough Actor

Felicity Jones in Like Crazy (Paramount Vantage)

Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Harmony Santana in Gun Hill Road (Motion Film Group)

Shailene Woodley in The Descendants (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Jacob Wysocki in Terri (ATO Pictures)

Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You

Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same
Madeleine Olnek, director; Laura Terruso, Madeleine Olnek, producers

Green
Sophia Takal, director; Lawrence Michael Levine, producer

The Redemption of General Butt Naked
Eric Strauss, Daniele Anastasion, directors and producers

Scenes of a Crime
Blue Hadaegh & Grover Babcock, directors and producers

Without
Mark Jackson, director; Mark Jackson, Jessica Dimmock, Michael Requa, Jaime Keeling, producers

New this year, IFP is proud present the inaugural euphoria Calvin Klein Spotlight on Women Filmmakers ‘Live the Dream’ grant, a $25,000 cash award for an alumnus of IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs. This grant aims to further the careers of emerging women directors by supporting the completion, distribution and audience engagement strategies of their first feature film.

The nominees are:

Jenny Deller, director, FUTURE WEATHER

Lucy Mulloy, director, UNA NOCHE

Rola Nashef, director, DETROIT UNLEADED

The 2nd Annual Gotham Independent Film Audience Award will be voted on again by the independent film community, 230,000 film fans worldwide. To be eligible, a U.S. film must have won an audience award at one of the top 50 U.S. or Canadian film festivals from November 2010 through October 2011. Voting begins today at http://gotham.ifp.org/audience_award. The nominees will be announced November 7th and the winner will be revealed at the Gotham Awards ceremony.