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Indie Spirits, Gotham Awards, DVDs

Having won Best Feature and Best Ensemble Performance at the Gotham Awards last night, Debra Granik's Winter's Bone now scores seven nominations for this year's Film Independent Spirit Awards, to be presented on February 26 — which is, of course, as tradition would have it, the night before the Oscars. Those seven: Best Feature, Director, Screenplay (Granik), Female Lead (Jennifer Lawrence), Supporting Male (John Hawkes), Supporting Female (Dale Dickey, pictured above) and Cinematography (Michael McDonough). IndieWIRE's Peter Knegt has the full list of all nominees.

Back to the Gothams and those who've won them. Best Documentary's gone to Laura Poitras's The Oath, which, by the way, didn't make the Academy's shortlist. Breakthrough Director: Kevin Asch for Holy Rollers. Breakthrough Actor: Ronald Bronstein for Daddy Longlegs. Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You: Mike Ott's Littlerock. And the Festival Genius Audience Award: Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for "Superman". IndieWIRE's Peter Knegt pretty much live-blogged the whole evening; Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci evidently made for a classy pair of hosts. In the New York Times, Melena Ryzik notes that "this year tribute awards were handed out to the director Darren Aronofsky, the Focus Features CEO James Schamus [the subject of a longish profile by Carlo Rotella for the NYT Magazine], Robert Duvall and Hilary Swank."

Nobuteru Uchida's Love Addiction has taken the top prize in this year's TOKYO FILMeX Competition. The jury, chaired by the Berlinale's Forum founder Ulrich Gregor (the other members: filmmakers Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Ning Ying, screenwriter Akane Shiratori and Hong Kong International Film Festival artistic director Li Cheuk-To): "This film develops a psychological drama through cinematic means to an extraordinary level of dramatic intensity. The use of the camera is especially remarkable just as the play of the actors. The jury also underlines the achievement to make a film of great power of expression with very limited financial means." And here's a list of the other award-winners; meanwhile, Chris MaGee wraps his coverage of the event at Toronto J-Film Pow-Wow.



"A journey through the bleak winter landscape of Tierra Del Fuego, Lisandro Alonso's fourth feature Liverpool is part road movie and part enigmatic character piece," writes Sean Axmaker, reviewing the new Kino International release. "A sailor (Juan Fernández, a non-actor that Alonso met while scouting the area and developing the script) jumps ship when his freighter docks at the frozen port of the icy southern tip of Argentina and heads inland... The beauty is in the way Alonso observes his characters moving through space and time and measures the beats between the action."

"At 35, with a striking (and strikingly coherent) body of work to his name, Alonso is a major figure in international art cinema — all four of his films have been shown at the Cannes Film Festival — but he remains too little known in the United States," writes Dennis Lim in the Los Angeles Times. "Alonso's first feature, La Libertad (2001), is a groundbreaking work in many ways, a film that doesn't simply blur the distinctions between documentary and fiction but creates and inhabits a space in between.... Los Muertos (2004), available on DVD through Facets Video, lays the groundwork for Liverpool. A story of an enigmatic journey that also happens to be an inexorable homecoming, it observes a middle-aged man named Vargas (a non-actor who shares the name of his character) on the last two days of a long prison sentence and on his first two days of freedom, as he reacquaints himself with the natural world in all its beauty and brutality. (The trajectory is echoed in Liverpool, which progresses from the enclosed space of a hulking freighter to a snowy wilderness at the edge of the world.)"

"For generations now Fantasia has been both faulted for its highbrow pretensions and derided as low-brow kitsch, frequently by the same critics and sometimes in the same sentence," writes Dave Kehr in the New York Times. "But this 1940 animated feature from Walt Disney remains unassailable, a cultural artifact that stands beyond simple categorization, perhaps Hollywood's closest brush with the avant-garde.... After a 10-year home-video moratorium, Fantasia returns this week in a magnificent Blu-ray edition, featuring a brilliance of color and clarity of sound that have probably not been recaptured since the film's premiere at the Broadway Theater in New York City on Nov 13, 1940." At his own site, he notes that he's "always had a special affection for Walt Disney's 1940 folie de grandeur, perhaps because it was the first film I was fully conscious of seeing as a film — to the point where, as a terrified three-year-old during the 'Night on Bald Mountain' sequence, I clearly remember looking away from the screen to find that mysterious beam of light coming from a hidden place in the rear of the balcony, the apparent source of all dreams and nightmares."

The Austin Chronicle and's Stephen Saito present holiday shopping guides and both make for fun browses whether or not you're actually looking for shopping guidance. More DVD roundups: Sean Axmaker, Mark Kermode (Observer), Paul Matwychuk and Heather Noel, Noel Murray (LAT) and Stephen Saito (IFC).



The fifth edition of Around the World in 14 Films has been on in Berlin for a few days and runs through Saturday. The idea: "From South America to Africa, through different parts of Europe to the Near East, through the Middle East and Central Asia to parts of the Far East, and on to North and Central America: 14 films representing 14 different, personal, artistic visions of 14 areas of the world." Each of the films is presented by a German director or actor who then leads a discussion. Tonight, for example, Wim Wenders will be on hand for the screening of Marcelo Gomes and Karim Ainouz's I travel because I have to, I come back because I love you.

The 34th Cairo International Film Festival opens today and runs through December 9. Ahram Online has an overview.

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