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The 2011 IFP (Independent Film Project) Gotham Awards are set to take place on November 28th at Cipriana Wall Street.

The Gotham Independent Film Awards are the first honors of the film awards season and is responsible for expanding the audience of independent films.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Joana Vicente, Executive Director of the IFP, the nation’s oldest and largest not-for-profit advocacy organization for independent filmmakers, to discuss the upcoming awards ceremony.

We got the inside scoop on this year’s event, as well as the different categories that the independent films can be nominated for. In particular, we discussed one unique category, “Best Film Not Playing in a Theater Near You,” and got Joana’s take on it.

GlobalGrind: Of all the award categories, ‘Best Film Not Playing in a Theater Near You” is the one that stands out the most. Can you tell us more about this category, and do you feel these movies really should be in a theater near us?

I kind of debated if this was the best title for this catefory (laughs) because it’s kind of provocative in a way. It’s the film that should be playing in a theater near you but it’s not, and hopefully by us giving attention to this film it will be playing in a theatre near you soon. That’s part of the criteria; really looking at the films that for whatever reasons kind of fell through the cracks. They were great films that got some attention but somehow the deal didn’t work or was overlooked by the buyers.

It’s chosen by a committee that is composed by Filmmaker Magazine, editors and staff and by the film department of MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). When we try to look for films, we have a list of specific films that were put together with a lot of recommendations from film festival programmers. Then it’s like, ‘which of these films really has the potential for theatrical distribution and should be seen in the theater?’

My first Gothams was actually last year so what I did when I came on board was put together a package where we have guaranteed one week release in New York in the Village East, and we also have a grant in cash that is given to the filmmaker. We also donate some ads in the New York Times to promote the film. So, that package gives the film a kind of jumpstart.

For instance, the film that won last year went on to show in about eight different markets and really got great attention and reviews.

Check out this year’s nominees for “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.”

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

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

All of these nominees will also be screened for the public at MoMA from November 18 – 21. The winner receives a one week run at Cinema Village, ad support in the New York Times and a $15,000.00 grant.

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