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Last updated: June 25, 2010
Copyright 2006 Michael R. Colford.
All rights reserved

current nominations ceremonyarchives
special awards • ballot

2007, 13th Annual Awards, March 18, 2007

 
 

Best Movie

Winner!CachéCaché - Michael Haneke has been making art house audiences feel uncomfortable for over a decade. From the first scene in Caché, we know that this film is going to be no different. Some have said that the film is a metaphor for international politics and each character represents a global superpower. Others take a different tack saying that it is about the longstanding damage of cruelty. Any way you see the film, Hanaeke’s masterful filmmaking is at work to ensure that you will not be able to quickly shake off Caché. --im
 
Duck SeasonDuck Season - The essential factors contributing to the success of Duck Season are simplicity, clarity and focus. All three are key elements in the writing, the acting, the editing and the cinematography. A few opening shots establish the place, a middle class housing project in Mexico City. In the film essentially nothing happens other than a few video games being played, a pizza delivered, and some brownies baked. Sparse, well thought-out dialogue traverses a variety of subject matter and bares a great deal of emotion. The acting is straightforward, never overwrought. Director Fernando Eimbcke is painstaking with nearly every frame of this film. In spite of the filmmaker’s dedication to detail and precision – not to mention that most of the action takes place in a very small apartment - the film retains abundant airiness and never looses its ability to amuse. --bk
 
Half NelsonHalf Nelson - Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden’s first feature film depicts the story of Dan Dunn, a twenty-something inner-city junior high school teacher who is looking to inspire his students while at the same time trying to overcome his crack addiction. Dan’s conflict is best shown through his relationship with Drey, a student in his class who learns about his drug problem. In most films, the teacher would be the guiding force in helping the student overcome a life of poverty and bad decisions. In this case, the teacher has his own baggage to overcome, and his struggle provides an interesting parallel to that of his student. With inspired performances by Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps, Half Nelson works as a film because its characters are flawed, and this realism highlights the depth of the characters’ conflicts. Director Fleck captures the melancholy emotions of his film well with wonderful cinematography and a great score by Broken Social Scene. --gc
 

Inland EmpireInland Empire - Lynch famously claimed this three-hour plunge into the digital video unknown was about “a woman in trouble” and left it at that. Well, how else could one sum up such a challenging but never-less-than-fascinating mélange of gradually shattering personas, pop culture kitsch (with a sinister Hollywood bent) and human-sized rabbits? It often feels like an improvised, avant-garde remix of Lynch’s previous film Mullholland Dr., encapsulating multiple storylines and characters (many of them played by Laura Dern) as if they were part of one person’s ongoing nightmare. Inland Empire doesn’t try to make sense or offer much narrative closure, but as it builds towards a nearly ethereal conclusion, Lynch continues to confound our expectations while suffusing this dream with transcendence and a little rapture. --ck

 
ShortbusShortbus - Over three years in the making, director John Cameron Mitchell's erstwhile "Sex Film Project" hit the screens last year as Shortbus. The bold purpose of the film was to demystify sex by presenting authentic, explicit sex acts performed by the main actors in a fictional film. Mitchell and company certainly deliver on that promise, but also managed to create – through an improvisational screenwriting process – a hilarious, touching, and soul-satisfying love letter to post-9/11 New York. While the ensemble stumbles its way through sexual hang-ups, obsessions, and secrets, they find the security to connect with those they've lost the ability to communicate with: their lovers, their neighbors, and ultimately themselves. No matter what thoughts viewers bring to the cinema, it's hard to deny that the most provocative film of the 2006 is also one of the top feel-good films of the year. In oh so many ways. --sc
 
Sorry, HatersSorry, Haters - How many films try to impress you with ‘big twists’ in the plot? How many films try to be ‘unconventional’? How many films actually succeed at both without making either
device the central point to the film? I can think of only one and it’s nominated for the best film of the year. Sorry, Haters opens with Phylly (played by Robin Wright Penn) emptying lots of her money from an ATM and getting into a cab driven by Mohammed (played by Abdel Kechiche). She asks him to just drive uptown with no real destination at first. The path that unfolds for the characters through the film is amazing to behold. Director Jeff Stanzler stated that he wanted to make a film with an Arab man in the lead that addresses the emotional impact of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The film succeeds in this very easily and not in any way one would expect. The script is top-notch, the leads are phenomenal, and the story has an immense amount of impact. Many people have stated that they felt a sense of ‘hyper-emotion’ or ‘hyper-reality’ while watching the events of 9/11 unfold; this film taps back into those senses. This is not an easy film to watch unfold, nor does it deal with pleasant topics, but it is amazing at producing emotion in even the most cynical and jaded of viewers. --clk
 

Buried Treasure

It's a Tie!

Winner!Iron IslandIron Island - Writer/Director Mohammad Rasoulof creates a very compelling film. It is an Iranian film-- a country not on the map of many film lovers-- that captures a look at a highly stylized society: Persian squatters living in a huge, decaying oil tanker. This setting alone is majestic enough for viewing, but the story and the characters also give the viewer plenty to enjoy. The squatters are under the command of Captain Nemat and the viewer is never quite sure what to make of his motives- is he creating this world out of the kindness of his heart, his selfish greed, or somewhere in between? What shall happen to the denizens of the ship when it is purchased by an outside group? Is such a society sustainable? Utterly overlooked by most of the film world, this is an outstanding piece of
art and deserves a much bigger audience than it has held to date. --clk
 
Winner!Night of TruthThe Night of Truth - Rwanda is the model for the fictitious country in The Night of Truth. Director Fanta Régina Nacro makes powerful statements about the quest for power, the insidious craving for war, and the futility of life for those caught in the middle. The effect is Shakespearean. Colonel Theo, leader of an opposition faction, has invited the President, his wife and their entourage of military guards to his compound to make peace between the warring factions. The Colonel’s wife does not want armed men in her village; she knows too well that the men that make peace also make war. The President’s wife, however, has revenge on her mind. War may be a man’s game but The Night of Truth demonstrates that women, given the chance, are often complicitous. The film’s conclusion is horrific and shocking, one that no filmgoer will ever forget. --bk
 
The AuraThe Aura - From the director of the 2000 heist flick Nine Queens comes this story of an epileptic taxidermist who believes he can execute the perfect crime. Slowly unfolding into a veritable thriller, Espinosa (Ricardo DarÍn) races through twist after twist as his plans unravel in the underworld of southern Argentina's backroads and dark wood. His seizures, moments he describes as being overcome by an aura, punctuate the action—bringing Espinoza moments of clarity in which he can observe, but is powerless to act. The moody, noirish thriller was director Bielinsky's final film; he passed away suddenly in July at age 47. --synopsis courtesy of the MFA
 
51 Birch Street51 Birch Street - Filmmaker Doug Block videotaped his parent’s 50th wedding anniversary as a project to supplement his freelance work recording other people’s weddings. When his mother abruptly died shortly thereafter and his father made a startling announcement three months later, he had the genesis for a documentary. In the tradition of cinema essayists like Ross McElwee and Chris Marker, Block employs interviews with relatives, newfound, illuminating artifacts and his own recollections to re-examine a marriage that was not all what it appeared to be. Candidly and searchingly, he also compels us to apply the provocative, far-reaching questions he raises to own our lives. --ck
 
The IntruderThe Intruder - Claire Denis' latest cinematic challenge is about journeys, both internal and external. The external journey is easier, with the aging Louis Trebor (Michel Subor) moving from the mountains at the France/Switzerland border, through Korea, and onto Tahiti. His physical journey corresponds with his internal one moving from a man with a mysterious, shady past to a search for a lost son. Intertwined with the journeys is the sensuousness of the physical. Trebor spends long hours lounging in the sun; elaborate streamers at the christening of a freighter twist elegantly in the wind; Béatrice Dalle's Queen of the Northern Hemisphere exults as she dogsleds through a sun-dappled winter wonderland. Trebor is lost, drifting through a life that once had violent purpose and meaning, and like Trebor's life, Denis' film drifts through locations, times, and images, weaving color-saturated clips of one of Subor's earlier films, extended shots of an expansive ocean, and a smiling infant being carried through the wilderness. Allow yourself to drift along with Denis and you may find yourself being subtly rewarded. --mrc
 
Mutual AppreciationMutual Appreciation -
 

Best Director

Winner!Michael HanekeMichael Haneke for Caché - In his latest thriller, Caché (Hidden), Michael Haneke draws wonderful performances from his stars, Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil, once again proves himself a master at ratcheting up suspense levels, mixes the shocking and the mundane, and explores potent political and societal issues. He is becoming a master at spinning out these multiple threads in his work, which makes rich viewing for those who watch his movies. Haneke was nominated in this category in 2003 for The Piano Teacher. --jp
 
Pedro AlmodóvarPedro Almodóvar for Volver - In the new film from Almodóvar, Penelope Cruz plays a young mother named Raimunda who must conceal the death of her husband upon learning that her teenage daughter has stabbed her stepfather when he attempted to sexually abuse her. At the same time, Raimunda’s family must cope with the death of a beloved aunt who has served as a mother figure for Raimunda and her sister. Yet as somber as the film may sound, Almodóvar has placed his film in a small Spanish village where the men die young, the widows gossip, and the ghosts of deceased relatives are a common occurrence. Within this blend of melodrama and comedy, Almodóvar has crafted a beautiful film. From the wonderful ensemble cast to the beautiful cinematography, the director delivers a moving experience and impressively captures the complexity of emotions that exist between mothers, daughters and sisters. --gc
 

Fernando EimbckeFernando Eimbcke for Duck Season - Duck Season (Temporada de Patos) tells the story of a day in the life of two boys, 14-year-old Flama (Daniel Miranda) and his best friend Moko (Diego Catano). What starts out as just another ordinary, boring day playing video games in Flama’s apartment becomes transformative as well with the arrival of Flama’s pretty teenage neighbor, Rita (Danny Perea) and pizza delivery man Ulises (Enrique Arreola). The strength of this low-key, black-and-white film comes from director Eimbcke’s ability to draw in the audience by capturing the smallest details of the characters’ lives and emotions with realism, humor, and compassion. As the film progresses, the viewer comes to identify with each character and can’t help but feel personally affected by their revelations. --ad

 
David LynchDavid Lynch for Inland Empire - Some feared that letting famed director David Lynch loose with a video camera, lacking the restraint of the cost of a traditional film production, would result in a maddening, incomprehensible mess. Instead, Lynch continues his recent string of impeccably creative and formalistically challenging films. Inland Empire follows in an almost direct line from Lost Highway to Mulholland Dr. as Lynch continues to address issues of identity and the loss of it. The typically difficult to describe story centers around an actress (played by longtime Lynch collaborator Laura Dern) who takes on a new role and, in turn, finds her self taken over by the role. Yes, Inland Empire is maddening and, to some extent, incomprehensible but it's far from a mess. --nh
 
Deepa MehtaDeepa Mehta for Water - Director Deepa Mehta's lovely film – the final film in a controversial trilogy beginning with Fire and Earth - is an extremely important chapter in the world-wide history of ways in which women are consistently mistreated in their respective cultures. The subject of the film is the practice of sequestering of widows, ostensibly for cultural and religious reasons, although the true reasons are almost always economic. Mehta tells her story primarily through the eyes of an eight year old widow, giving the viewer a simplistic, uncontaminated view of the situation. While Water is visually stunning, Mehta does not allow its beauty to diminish her powerful political message. --bk

Best Actress

Winner!Robin Wright PennRobin Wright Penn for the role of Phoebe in Sorry, Haters - How great is it taht Robin Wright Penn keeps tackling interesting, challenging roles, when she could surely take her talents to the safe, Hollywood roles that many actresses populate and make more money doing it. She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Chlotrudis Award last year for a small role in Nine Lives. This year she's got a role that is worthy of this fearless actor's talent. Sorry, Haters' Phoebe is a psychologically damaged woman, struggling to find her way in a world forever changed by the events of September 11, 2001. The choices she makes, and the actions she takes will shock some, but through it all, Penn makes Pheobe human, even as she's making her somewhat inhuman. It's a powerfully, breathless performance that just knocks you out of your seat. So visceral and emotionally raw is Penn's performance that many people, including some important critics, couldn't handle the film and thwarted it's chances for even it's planned limited release. Chlotrudis is proud to be a supporter of Sorry, Haters, and Robin Wright Penn deserves a good part of that recognition. --mrc
 
Maggie CheungMaggie Cheung for the role of Emily Wang in Clean - We know Cheung as a fabulous Hong Kong action star and as a devastatingly romantic muse. However, in this gritty, complicated film about addiction and redemption (directed by her ex-husband Olivier Assayas), she arrestingly shows us how mortal and vulnerable she can be. To the well-worn role of the junkie struggling to stay sober so she can forge a relationship with her estranged child, Cheung radiates all the power and wrenching emotion you’d expect, but, in keeping with the film’s attitude and tone, she underplays as much as she exerts, lending her character nuance and gravitas. She leaves an utterly real impression—her triumphs and setbacks all feel fully earned. --ck
 
Laura DernLaura Dern for the role of Nikki Grace/Susan Blue in Inland Empire - In Inland Empire, Dern once again teams up with director David Lynch. She plays Nikki Grace, an actress who has been hired to play the role of Sue, a young woman who is cheating on her husband. It is also possible that Dern is playing Sue, who copes with the struggles of her own life by living vicariously through the fantasy world of Nikki Grace. Although the audience is never quite certain where the film is going from one scene to another, Dern always keeps the audience involved, whether she’s dancing the Locomotion or conversing with junkies on a street corner. In the hands of a lesser actress, it is doubtful that the film would have come together. With Dern in his arsenal, Lynch succeeds in bringing a unique, original film to the screen and leaves audiences with an experience to remember. --gc
 
Shareeka EppsShareeka Epps for the role of Drey in Half Nelson - Shareeka Epps demonstrated unusual talent in Gowanus Brooklyn, the 19 minute short film that was the precursor of Half Nelson. Keeping her on in the complicated role of Drey, was a very wise move. Drey is an alienated teen caught up in the confusion of a workaholic mother and drug dealing family members and friends. She catches one of her teachers and basketball coach doing drugs in the bathroom after basketball practice. Instead of turning him in she befriends him, ironically drawing strength from her troubled personal life. Epps handles Drey’s conflicted emotions well, creating an extraordinarily memorable character. --bk
 

Sandra HüllerSandra Hüller for the role of Michaela Klingler in Requiem - Sandra Hüller’s performance is sublime as Michaela in Requiem, an intensely religious young woman who decides that the seizures, mania and hallucinations she suffers from are demonic possession. Hüller successfully carries the viewer into her struggle. Her physically and emotionally intense performance is impressive and surprisingly thought-provoking. This is definitely an actress to keep an eye out for! --im

 
Ellen PageEllen Page for the role of Hayley Stark in Hard Candy - 2002's Chlotrudis Breakthrough Award winner Ellen Page doesn't disappoint in her first out-and-out starring role... and it's a doozy. Hayley Stark is a 13-year-old girl who is on the hunt. She's after an Internet predator who does terrible things to young girls. At least this is what Hayley believes. Page looking both tough and vulnerable takes on a challenging role; one where the audience's allegiance ebbs and flows as the tension and the violence escalates. While some say Hayley seems almost too competent, Page does a magnificent job letting us see through the cracks from time to time, reminding us that this is an adolescent girl, even as she performs her next terrifying act. In a year that also saw Ellen Page don black leather to appear in the latest X-Men film, it's great to see her future work swing back to the independent milieu that will give her some roles that she can really sink her teeth into. --mrc
 

Best Actor

Winner!Vincent LindonVincent Lindon for the role of Marc Thiriez in La Moustache - At the beginning of this film, Marc asks his wife if she would recognize him without his moustache. She laughs when she says she only has known him with it. He shaves it off. No-one in his life seems to care or even notice that he has done so. When he starts to confront those close to him about this, a very perplexing and existential story unfolds. The central themes of the film are never explicit; they appear only through Marc’s internal journey. Thus, there is a lot of weight on Lindon’s shoulders and his portrayal is a delight as his character struggles with many difficult questions: how do others ACTUALLY perceive us? How do we perceive them? How close do we actually get to those closest to us? Through it all, Lindon acts in a more subdued manner than film’s strangeness might suggest, yet through it all we see the pain, the questioning, and ultimately the acceptance that Marc goes through. Though mostly restrained, it is thoroughly compelling, entertaining, and thought-provoking performance. --clk
 
Daniel AuteuilDaniel Auteuil for the role of Georges Laurent in Caché - Playing an unlikable character is never easy but Daniel Autueil always rises to the task with as much skill as with his more sympathetic roles. In this meditative drama punctuated by shocking moments and creeping menace, Auteuil plays Georges Laurent, a successful Parisian who has his world turned upside down, and some painful childhood memories excavated, by the arrival on his doorstep of a mysterious videotape. The tape simply shows that his family's is being watched by an unseen observer. Why or how is never fully revealed, despite Georges' best efforts to unearth the perpetrator. --nh
 
Gael García BernalGael García Bernal for the role of Stéphane Miroux in The Science of Sleep - In Michel Gondry’s The Science of Sleep, Gael García Bernal plays Stéphane, a man who has difficulty distinguishing his dreams from reality. In bringing Gondry’s vision to the screen, Bernal displays the same charm, vulnerability, and frustration that have made him a favorite of acclaimed Spanish-language directors such as Pedro Almodovar and Alfonso Cuarón. With this performance, Bernal confirms that his skills are not limited to his native language – a test that has proven challenging for many foreign actors. --gc
 
Ryan GoslingRyan Gosling for the role of Dan Dunne in Half Nelson - In Half Nelson, Ryan Gosling portrays one of the most difficult strains of characters: the sympathetic hypocrite. Dan Dunne is a young, white teacher who uses innovative, radical methods to engage the mostly black, inner-city students in the Brooklyn middle school where he works. By using current, relevant examples from his students’ lives, he persuades them to deeply examine not only history and their place in it, but their own lives and the choices they face. But what his students don’t know is that Dan isn’t able to apply the same tools of self-reflection due to his crippling addiction to drugs. Gosling makes us alternately cheer and cringe for Dan from one scene to the next thanks to his honest, natural, and fully-committed performance. And refreshingly, we never get the sense that the actor is commenting on the character’s behavior – good or bad. --sc
 
Guy PearceGuy Pearce for the role of Charlie Burns in The Proposition - Guy Pearce is saddled with a Solomonic choice in this grim and graphic view of 19th century Australian colonials and their version of “frontier justice”. Pearce is Charlie Burns, member of an outlaw gang of brothers accused of an horrific crime – raping and murdering a pregnant woman, killing her family, burning their farm to the ground. After Charlie and his sensitive younger brother Mikey are captured by the law, Charlie is offered the proposition: Clemency, if he finds and kills their criminally feral older brother Arthur (leader of their gang) within 9 days. If Charlie does not meet this deadline, Mikey will be executed. Pearce epitomizes a man driven to desperation by a devil’s bargain. Beaten and bruised, skin burnt by sun and wind, exhaustion and self-doubt etched in his face, the viewer cannot resist the urge to forgive this man for the sins he must commit to save young Mikey. Pearce brings this tragedy to the audience with a laconic elegance – every action inexorably leading to a brutal denouement. --kp
 
Ray WinstoneRay Winstone in the role of Captain Stanley in The Proposition - When Ray Winstone first appears as Captain Stanley in the Australian Outback wester The Proposition, he is the villain, putting the pressure on one character while abusing that characters little brother. Winstone plays Stanley as a self-righteous, frightening bully in those opening scenes, but not much later his transforms his character as we see him as a loving husband who will do anything to protect the innocence of his wife. A little later we see him as a just man who wants to do the right thing and spare others any unnecessary pain. Stanley is a complex character, and Winstone allows us to see all these elements that add up to a man doing his best in a difficult situation. In this stylized, almost mythic tale, Winstone relies on understatement putting all his emotions into his eyes and his facial expressions in a powerful performance. This is Winstone's second nomination in the Best Actor Category following Sexy Beast in 2002. --mrc
 

Best Supporting Actress

Winner!Carmen MauraCarmen Maura for the role of Irene in Volver - While Penelope Cruz has been understandably lauded for her role in Almodovar's newest film, it is a supporting role that really guides the film and lends it much of its drama. Carmen Maura, familiar to Almodovar fans from her roles in some of his earlier films, plays the supposedly dead mother of Cruz and, indeed, spends a good portion of the film pretending to be or being mistaken for a ghost. Maintaining an air of frivolity during the course of a film that touches upon issues that range from murder to child abuse is no easy challenge but Maura, and the rest of the cast, make it look as easy as pie . --nh
 
Grace ZabriskieGrace Zabriskie for the role of Visitor #1 in Inland Empire - Grace Zabriskie has never looked scarier than the first few seconds of her appearance in Inland Empire. Her eyes have a strange, unnatural cast as she scuttles toward the estate-mansion occupied by actress Nikki Grace (Laura Dern). Zabriskie sets the tone of the film, arriving uninvited and offering cryptic clues on Nikki’s new film, insinuating an eerie sense of prescience into a world where time is out of order, all roles are re-plays of the past, and characters are carved into caricatures. Looming, claustrophobic close-ups of Zabriskie’s face draw an almost rabbit-like appearance from her prominent over-bite and pale, expressionless eyes. Although her one scene, early in the film, is brief, her aspect lingers with you long after the final credits roll. --kp
 
Charlotte GainsbourgCharlotte Gainsbourg for the role of Stéphanie in The Science of Sleep - Is there any more thankless role than the supporting love interest of a quirky leading man in a romantic comedy? Like her Chlotrudis-nominated predecessors, Virginia Madsen in Sideways and Emily Watson in Punch-Drunk Love, Charlotte Gainsbourg pulls off such a convincing, well-rounded performance that becomes as essential to the film as the more solidly-written lead male actor’s. As Stéphanie in The Science of Sleep, Gainsbourg gives us reason to believe that her male counterpart Stéphane can transport the magic of dreams into a mundane daily existence. Only because of her subtle, delicate, and thoroughly charming presence, the film is fully realized and we are filled with the same wide-eyed fascination as Stéphanie. --sc
 
Catherine O'HaraCatherine O'Hara for the role of Marilyn Hack in For Your Consideration - The mockumentray is a trendy form among film school students these days; but what they don't get is that if you don't have extremely skilled actors, the gag falls flat. Not so for the team that invented the franchise and this latest effort, in which washed-up, old-school Hollywood actors get caught up in false hype about their very forgettable movie. Catherine O'Hara plays Marilyn Hack, an actress who's reached that point in her career where she's playing dying moms. Frumpy and greying, dressed in casual duds, she takes her work seriously and feel self-conscious about having to "age"
for her latest role, the matriarch in a smarmy Southern pic called HOME FOR PURIM. When a headline-hngry entertainment pundit makes it known there's a rumor of an Oscar nod for the film, and for Hack in particular, she falls for it. As often happens with her characters, there is real emotion and depth lurking beneath the funny mannerisms. Vanity is perhaps the saddest trap for the aging actor and this is liek watching a train wreck. Dying her hair is just the beginning; Hack is seen at one point, just prior to the official nominations announcement, in a tight sparkly sheath that even Christina Aguilera would find tacky, blonde hair extensions, heavy gloss on collagen-enhanced lips and what must be a dangerous amount of Botox. Surely O'Hara did not have surgical enhancement for this role, but what's amazing is that she looks exactly like she has. Now that's acting. --pa
 
Zoe WeizenbaumZoe Weizenbaum for the role of Malee Chuang in Twelve and Holding - Zoe Weizenbaum plays Malee, a lonely preteen girl being raised by a single mom who is a very busy psychotherapist. In the aftermath of the death of one of her close friends Malee feels the need for unconditional love. She establishes a rapport with one of her mother’s clients, confusing his friendship with sexual attraction and romance. Weizenbaum captures the psychological desperation of her character, making her preposterous actions believable and frightfully poignant. --bk
 

Best Supporting Actor

Winner!Jack Earle HaleyJack Earle Haley for the role of Ronnie J. McGorvey in Little Children - As Ronnie J. McGorvey in Little Children, Jack Earle Haley does the nearly impossible – he turns a morally repugnant human being into a very sympathetic character. Ronnie is a child molester who lives with his doting, aged mother. She worries about his ability to take care of and restrain himself once she is gone. Those worries are sadly put to the test. Haley performs some outrageous scenes with amazing delicacy. There is something almost telepathic in how he conveys his inward turmoil to his audience without ever going over the top. A virtuoso performance. --bk
 
Enrique ArreolaEnrique Arreola for the role of Ulises in Duck Season - The charming Mexican comedy, Duck Season, gives us Enrique Arreola as a put-upon, sad sack pizza deliverer who comes to life taking his revenge on two teenaged boys trying to stiff him for delivering their pizza two minutes late: He whips them on Xbox, their own turf. Like the three teenagers who are his companions in this apartment and through this afternoon, he carries a secret to which he finds an answer by day's end. In portraying this transformation, learning how to grow up and be free at the same time, Arreola simply but deftly conveys to us the pleasure of epiphany.--jp
 
Robert Downey, Jr.Robert Downey, Jr. for the role of James Barris in A Scanner Darkly - Substance D and government surveillance of civilians: it's business as usual for Philip K. Dick, whose work is difficult to adapt to a traditional film narrative. Even with the rotoscoping method director Richard Linklater employs, in which live action is painted over yielding trippy visuals (did I just see that?), the acting performances shine through here, perhaps because professionals are employed to do what amateurs did in WAKING LIFE. Robert Downey, Jr. plays Barris, a ne'er do well who, with Woody Harrelson, sponges off Keanu Reeves' character Bob Arctor. All three are hooked on Substance D, a drug that has become wildly popular and addictive in this southern Cali of the mind. Downey's bug-eyed kinetics are perfect for a character who lives outside the lines (and is frequently drawn that way), and the he's letter-perfect at conveying the drug-induced ravings and sudden bursts of crazy that seem to typify Sunstance D's effects. I'm not one of those cynics who will say Downey's good at playing a drug addict because he's been one; I am merely thankful he's back doing what he's so damn good at. --pa
 
Richard GriffithsRichard Griffiths for the role of Hector in The History Boys - Richard Griffiths has the possibility of adding a Trudie to his shelf of Olivier, Drama Desk, and Tony awards for the role of Hector in the The History Boys. Having originated the role on stage, Griffiths was thankfully able to cement his audacious/unguarded performance on celluloid. As every boy’s favorite teacher, brings humanity to playwright/screenwriter Alan Bennett’s iconoclastic character, illustrating the self-delusion, wisdom, weakness, and honor that exist in all our personal heroes. --sc
 
Danny HustonDanny Huston for the role of Arthur Burns in The Proposition - Another strong performance from Danny Houston! He is Arthur Burns, the eldest of the brothers Burns, Irish immigrants turned criminals in the Australian Outback of the 1880s. Houston has very little screen time but when he is there, all eyes are on him. He successfully walks the line of being an intensely loving and protective older brother and a terrifying, unhinged murderer creating a character both complex and compelling. --im
 
Nick NolteNick Nolte for the role of Albrecht Hauser in Clean - Nobody plays world-weary like Nick Nolte. Nobody. He has been derided for this when potentially inappropriate (e.g. his villainous role in Ang Lee’s Hulk), but when the character calls for that self-induced emotional brow-
beating, it’s immense. Witness his portrayal of Albrecht Hauser, father-in-law to Clean’s central character Emily Wang. Old and tired, he’s lost his son to drugs, losing his wife to disease, and still trying to maintain faith that Emily can be a mother to her son (and his grandson) after her own prison time for her drug addiction. Nolte may have played characters dependent on emotional melodrama before, but rarely does a role feel so convincing for him. --clk
 

Best Original Screenplay

Winner!Nick CaveThe Proposition, screenplay by Nick Cave -
 
Michael HanekeCaché, screenplay by Michael Haneke - For a serious psychological thriller, Caché has a lot of fun jovially messing with us. It initially presents itself as a mystery concerned with who’s secretly watching a bourgeois couple before it eventually reveals itself as something far more unconventional and internal. Along the way, Haneke’s screenplay proceeds at a deliberate but unnerving pace, following lengthy, talky scenes of seemingly little consequence with shrewdly executed twists jolting enough to take your breath away. In fact, one is so genuinely shocking that you can’t help but gasp out loud at its audacity. Thrills laden this intricately make each subsequent viewing of the film an eye-opening experience, especially once you figure out where to look. --ck
 
Jonathan RaymondKelly ReichardtOld Joy, screenplay by Joanathan Raymond & Kelly Reichardt (left) - This nearly plotless wonder follows two once-close friends, settled-down Mark (Daniel London) and the more carefree, rambunctious Kurt (Will Oldham). When Kurt rolls into town, they go on an impromptu road trip to camp in Oregon's Cascade Mountain range. As the landscape changes dramatically, the film's leisurely rhythms and lengthy tracking shots go hand in hand to express a remarkably complex sense of distance that has accumulated between the two men over time. Reichardt's film is like a requiem, subtly expressing melancholy and regret over this country's current state of affairs. Daringly offering few resolutions, it also wisely acknowledges that we can't always recapture what has been lost. --ck
 
Bernd LangeRequiem, screenplay by Bernd Lange - Requiem is a remarkable film, not only for the performances of its cast, but for the adaptation of true events by Bernd Lang as well. The screenplay for Requiem cares just as much for the real life grounding of the story as it does for the drama of it. Based on the case of a woman who was convinced by her faith that she was possessed by a demon from hell ­ despite some clear indications that she was suffering from mental illness. Graciously, the film leaves it open to question which of these may be the real truth of the situation ­ or if they are even mutually exclusive. --nh
 

Jeff StanzlerSorry, Haters, screenplay by Jeff Stanzler - That Jeff Stanzler had the courage to write such a contreversial screenplay speaks volumes. That he creates a story that keeps the audience guessing until the very last moment of film is a rarity in this day of the "surprise ending." Stanzler wrote Sorry, Haters based on some true emotional reactions he saw in his friends after September 11, 2001. While some may say the actions and emotions of the character Phoebe aren't realistic, many of us know that people deal with psychological trauma in very different ways. Phoebe plays with our emotions, drawing us in a making us feel sorry for her, then turning around and slapping us in the face, and back, and forth again. SORRY, HATERS is a seamless blend of plot and characterization that will leave viewers shaken and shaking heads as the credits roll. --mrc

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Winner!Frank Cottrell BoyceTristram Shandy, a Cock and Bull Story, screenplay by Frank Cottrell Boyce, based on the novel by Laurence Sterne - A complex, self-relflexive comedy can be a glory to behold. That goes double when it’s an adaptation of an entirely unfilmable work. Like Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation, Frank Cottrell Boyce’s screenplay about an attempted film adaptation of the bawdy eighteenth-century, nine-volume novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is an unpredictable, zany mess of a story. And that’s just beautiful. But unlike Adaptation, the screenplay of Tristram Shandy actually manages to bear a strong resemblance the original work. Like the narrator of the novel, the characters in the film (representing the actors we’re watching in the film) face the frustration of telling an impossible story while attempting to glorify their own blemished, inadequate talents. And it’s a truly uproarious, side-splitting spectacle when they fail at every attempt. --sc
 
Richard LinklaterA Scanner Darkly, screenplay by Richard Linklater, based on the novel by Philip K. Dick - Richard Linklater’s commitment to staying true to Philip K. Dick’s paranoid yet personal novel, A Scanner Darkly, is the reason that this adaptation is so successful. Linklater combines Dick’s view of the future – with its surveillance, drug addiction, and fear ¬– with the ethereal rotoscoping animation he first used in Waking Life. The result is a delirious yet relevant film and like nothing you have ever seen before. --im
 
Tony GrisoniBrothers of the Head, screenplay by Tony Grisoni, based on the novel by Brian Aldiss - Tony Grisoni adapted sci-fi novelist’s Brian Aldiss’ story of conjoined twin brother rock stars, a novella considered unfilmable due to its stylized format as well as vivid illustration. However, Grisoni finds the key theme and tone, and weaves old and new strands of plot, characterization and setting together into a compelling, odd, hypnotic film that closely resembles its literary older sibling. --bc
 
Alan BennettThe History Boys, screenply by Alan Bennett, based on his play - Playwright Alan Bennett adapts his own award-winning play of Eighties era high school boys in northern England studying for the UK equivalent of the SATs or college boards. Bennett manages to open up what had been a one-set play, adding backstory glimpses into the boys’ home lives and neighborhoods, as well the teachers. The added context informs all that is at stake in the struggle of traditional teaching and the New Education for the hearts and minds of these boys, and the boys’ own determination to improve themselves. --bc
 
Todd FieldTom PerrottaLittle Children, screenplay by Todd Field (left) and Tom Perrotta, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta - An affluent, seemingly innocuous suburb provides the backdrop for this dark, funny (but mainly dark) intertwined narrative. One thread follows Sarah (Kate Winslet) and Brad (Patrick Wilson), two young parents in mismatched marriages attempting a compulsive, misguided affair; the other profiles Ronald (Jackie Earle Haley), a middle-aged pedophile living in their neighborhood who just wants to be left alone. Perotta adapted his novel with director Field; together, they successfully make this distinct, contained world come alive onscreen without a hint of melodrama or Hollywood hokum. The compassion and care they give to its denizens lifts their film above any American Beauty knockoff that comes to mind. --ck
 
Emmanuel CarrèreLa Moustache, screenplay by Emmanuel Carrère, based on the novel by Emmanuel Carrère and Jérôme Beaujour - Smart stories don’t give you all the answers to your questions; brilliant ones give you questions that have no answers. Such is the case with Emmanuel Carrère’s adaptation of La Moustache, the novel he co-wrote with Jérôme Beaujour. When the main character, Marc, shaves off his trademark mustache and no one notices, not even his wife, the questions start coming hard and fast. Did he ever have a mustache? Is everyone out to get him? Are they all deluding themselves? Is Marc? But it’s not the answers to these questions that are important. It’s the incredible realization that these are the same questions philosophers, psychologists, and – well, all human beings have asked for eons about identity, relationships, and perception. --sc
 

Best Visual Design

Winner!The Science of SleepThe Science of Sleep - Director Michel Gondry proves, in The Science of Sleep, that the cracked world view he gave us in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind wasn't just a one off. Featuring a television production studio made of cardboard, an office with ever changing dimensions, characters with gigantic hands, and downright surreal animation, the movie's visuals blend real world and dreamworld so seamlessly that the viewer quickly realizes, and accepts, that in main character Bernal's world, they are one and the same. --jp
 
Brothers of the HeadBrothers of the Head - This dreamy, disturbing little Herkimer diamond of a film is not what it seems. A metacinematic fake documentary? A fantastical rockumentary? In any case it owes much to the photography of Anthony Dod Mantle, whose work on Dogme films like Celebration, Mifune and Julien Donkeyboy, not to mention 28 Days Later, Dogville and recently The Last King of Scotland, has established him as one of the most innovative and talented cinematographers in recent memory. Perhaps because Mantle is an Englishman who worked for many years in Scandinavia, Brothers of the Head has a look that oozes nostalgia, memory and a bittersweet sense of place. The conjoined twins of the title are born in obscurity in the of Norfolk, and brought to a huge mansion in Oxfordshire where they are groomed to become rock musicians and take the British punk scene by storm. But flashback snippets of the rainy, colorless flatlands of their youth serves to ground their meteoric trajectory in an inescapable muck of pain and loneliness; the spark and flame of their talent (for they do have some) is drowned in willful self-pity brought on by endless scrutiny. Directors Lewis Pepe and Keith Fulton create an entirely convincing period piece that smartly refuses to valorize its subjects, and subtly incriminates itself: intimate, unflinching, invasive, the documentary destroys. --pa
 
Inland EmpireInland Empire - What can be said about a three hour nightmare that is mystifyingly complex, maddeningly confusing and completely mesmerizing? David Lynch has achieved something momentous here but I can’t tell you what it is. No, I mean I really can’t. I only know watching it was as exciting and entrancing as any experience I’ve had in a movie theatre. Although some critics have pointed out what seems (to them) to be sub-standard cinematography, the occasional fuzzy quality of the visuals to me (particularly in Grace Zabriskie’s scenes, with her cloven cheekbones and aquatic eyes) enhances the trademark oddities and bent beauty Lynch is known for. Although some viewers may miss Lynch’s saturated color and carefully staged tableaux, it’s as if he chose to melt all sixty-four crayons together rather than grind down eight or nine favorites into stubs. Beneath every scene, Lynch’s impeccable use of sound makes us slowly lose our bearings. One crystal clear segment which repeats several times is the bunny theatre piece that looks like a sixth grader’s diorama. But are they bunnies or, as salon.com critic Stephanie Zacharek reportedly believes, donkeys? And why are they ironing clothes like something out of a Lorraine Hansberry play? Is Laura Dern’s character a glamorous movie star whose life spirals out of control? Or a whore who daydreams between fixes? Is sexual ownership all there is to love and marriage? It doesn’t matter what Lynch is saying; what matters is that you listen. Here is the shadow self, dolled up for a lunch date on Rodeo Drive. Here is the music of the spheres, knowing the dying breaths of junkies are as melodious as birdsong at twilight. --pa
 
Iron IslandIron Island - There is not much to work with, just a rusty old ship and a group of squatters. What could be visual about it? One must see this film to fully understand the importance of visual design - a film such as Iron Island is a poster child for true visual artistry. Hundreds of other filmmakers would probably have filmed the same script in unremarkable fashion. Together, Director/Production Designer Mohammad Rasoulof and Cinematographer Reza Jalali create a film of singular beauty, contrasting serenity with chaos and claustrophobic conditions with wide open spaces. The scene with bright yellow oil barrels hurling through a bright blue sky and tumbling into the sea is among my most unforgettable visual moments…..EVER. --bk
 
The Piano Tuner of EarthquakesThe Piano Tuner of Earthquakes - Few other contemporary filmmakers create a more complete visual world than the Quay Brothers. This team of directors have been making short films and music videos for years and have influenced dozens of other film artists. With their second feature film, Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, the pair adds new tools to their formidable repertoire, experimenting with digital backdrops and computer effects while still maintaining their handmade aesthetic. The film tells the story of a nefarious doctor who abducts an opera singer and takes her to his mysterious island. When a piano tuner is invited to the island to prepare for a big performance, he believes he is close to being reunited with a lost love. --nh
 
WaterWater - Water is indeed the word, for this film virtually pours its images and story over the audience. It seems almost every shot in the film includes water in some form: River banks on which funeral pyres burn, where flowers and ashes float; women bathe fully-clothed in public open-air baths; rain cascades from monsoon skies; a very young girl is ported across a lake to have her innocence torn away Dutiful Hindu women and girls are consigned to live in shabby shame after the death of their husbands because the practice of suttee has been outlawed, they are jailed in an ashram, tyrannized by the eldest of the widows and forced into prostitution with a wealthy “patron”. Water represents social changes as effluent and disruptive as the floodwaters of the Ganges. Cinematographer Giles Nuttgens gives a liquid quality to the lighting in every scene – even the poorest of supplicants is bathed in glorious light and saturated colors. --kp
 

Best Performance by an Ensemble Cast

Winner!Little Miss SunshineLittle Miss Sunshine - Little Miss Sunshine has the emblematic ensemble, with characters free of stereotype, with traits sufficiently unique to make each one memorable, and yet not so outlandish that one character stands out from the others. It doesn't hurt, too, that the cast, featuring veterans Alan Arkin, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, and Greg Kinnear and relative newcomers Paul Dano and Abigail Breslin, meshes like a well-oiled machine. A high point in the history of dysfunctional family, road trip comedies. --jp
 
Duck SeasonDuck Season - Although the credits list 8 roles, the film belongs to four characters – Flama (Daniel Miranda), his friend Moko (Diego Catano), Rita (DannyParea) a neighbor in the apartment complex, and Ulises (Enrique Arreola) the pizza delivery man. The cast is beautifully balanced and utterly believable. Flama and Moko are young teenage boys, who immediately make new plans for the money left by Flamo’s mother for picking up the dry cleaning. Rita is a slightly older girl who asks to use their oven in order to bake a (disastrously bad) birthday cake. They order a pizza from a shop that promises delivery within 20 minutes or the pizza is free; Ulises is 11 seconds late… The contest of wills over payment is humorously played out, and each character reveals conflicts in conversations that wander from kissing to candy to the painting of ducks on the wall. The boys are lively, bored, and obnoxious by turns, the dialogue is so natural and fresh it seems improvised on the spot. Ulises as the sole adult anchors the scenes as he describes his dream of breeding parakeets, offers his advice on love, family and happiness, and rises to the challenge of the video-game soccer championship. --kp
 
For Your ConsiderationFor Your Consideration - When you first hear that Christopher Guest is working on a new film, you don’t care so much about the plot or subject matter so long as Guest brings together the same wonderful cast that has worked with him since Waiting for Guffman. In his latest film, For Your Consideration, the cast and crew of a small indie film get swept up in the excitement that results from rumors that their little film could be nominated for an Academy Award. With that set-up, the ensemble takes the situation and the characters and don’t look back. Whether it’s the interplay between Eugene Levy’s delusional agent and Harry Shearer’s principled actor or the mindless banter between entertainment correspondents Fred Willard and Jane Lynch, you can’t help but appreciate that Guest has brought together some of the best comic actors working today and we hope to see more collaborations in the future. --gc
 
The History BoysThe History Boys - Alan Bennett’s filmscript based on his stage play tells the story of a group of outstanding students who are chosen to spend an extra month preparing for their Oxford admissions gauntlet. The talented cast of this film also performed in the stage version in London, giving an advantage many film roles aren’t normally afforded: plenty of rehearsal. Some of these actors are familiar to indie viewers: Richard Griffiths (Withnail’s eccentric, mad uncle in Withnail and I, Harry Potter’s mean, muggle uncle in the Harry Potter films) as Hector, the hyper-literary theatre-loving tutor whose wandering hands land him in trouble; Stephen Campbell Moore (Adam in Bright Young Things) as Irwin, the newbie teacher who captivates the students with his creative classroom methods; Frances de la Tour (Madame Maxime in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and countless British films and TV shows) as the sympathetic but smoldering Mrs. Lintott; and James Corden (Rory in Mike Leigh’s All or Nothing) as the lazy, wise-cracking Timms. Very impressive indeed are Samuel Barnett as the sweet-voiced, sexually-confused Posner, whose flawless, genuine renditions of songs like “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” are among the film’s finest moments. Dominic Cooper as the arrogant, flirtatious Dakin, and Jamie Parker (who reprises “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” over the end credits) as the level-headed, mercurial Scripps who wants to join the seminary. Camaraderie, sexual tension and antagonism vie for top billing but ultimately the ensemble works so beautifully because the individuals are so beautiful. --pa
 
Russian DollsRussian Dolls - Russian Dolls is a sequel to the 2002 film L'auberge Espagnole, a romantic comedy about an international group of students in a Barcelona graduate school. Flash forward five years and we find the same cast struggling - in various European cities - to find their respective footholds in life, often making poor choices and hurting their friends in the process. Fear not, there are joyous moments, too. These actors work well together and have a way of truly engaging their audience. Their exuberance is truly infectious. --bk
 

Best Documentary

Winner!This Film Is Not Yet RatedThis Film Is Not Yet Rated - Director Kirby Dick aims his lens at the film world, but this is no ordinary self-reflective navel gazing. He sets his sights on understanding the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) - the organization that provides films with their ratings. Many directors have been vocal about the MPAA’s rating system-- the secrecy of its members’ qualifications and selection, the supposed inconsistency of various films’ ratings, and the haphazard appeals. Here, Dick interviews many directors who make their case in often amusing tales. However, Dick also takes action by hiring a private investigator to uncover the identities of the ratings’ board members and this film also shows the results of that investigation. Many times as humorous as it is enraging and informative, this film should be labeled as a ‘must-see’ for anyone who is even a casual fan of film in general. --clk
 
Born into Brothels10th District Court - In this deceptively simple and compelling documentary, two mostly static cameras record the proceedings in a Parisian courtroom overseen by tart-tongued, but incredibly human, Judge Michèle Bernard-Requin, meting out carefully crafted punishments. The transgressors brought before her offer their defenses (their lawyers seem rarely to defend them), insisting that they acted correctly, ignorance of the law, assuming society's rules didn't apply to them, but in the end, they all are convicted and left with their assorted penalties. Again, their reactions describe an arc, from passive acceptance through attempted bravado to militant defiance. With nearly unflappable grace, Judge Bernard-Requin makes it all work. Fascinating! --jp
 
49 Up49 Up - The “Up Series” (Seven Up!, Seven Plus Seven, 21, 28 Up, 35 Up 42: Forty-Two Up and 49 Up) has achieved iconic status for documentary filmmaking by tracking the same group every seven years from childhood into middle age. Tony is a kid from the East End, once a rough-and-tumble section of London, now home to many immigrants from Africa and Asia. Jackie, Sue and Lynn hail from similar backgrounds. Simon and Paul were living in a children’s home when the series began. Nick is from a farm in the North Country. Paul and Neil are products of the middle class. Susan is from a wealthy family but is a product of a broken home. John, Andrew and Charles are public school kids who had their sights set on Oxford and Cambridge from infancy. While missing some of the surprise turns of the earlier films, 49 Up is better edited than some of the others and is also more satisfying in a visceral sense. This is human architecture on display. --bk
 
Jesus CampJesus Camp - is an investigative and observational film about Pastor Becky Grady’s “Kids on Fire” summer camp in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota. The camp trains Christian youth from age 6 and up to spread the word of God and Christianity and to be “soilders for God’s Army”. Directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady approach the subject with the investigative filmmaking style they brought to their previous film, Boys of Baraka. Depending on how you feel about the content, Jesus Camp is either deeply upsetting or insightful. It undeniably warns America: “know thyself.” --im
 
Shut Up and SingShut Up & Sing - Rarely has a documentary been so politlcal, yet so entertaining and fun at the same time, and much of the credit for the latter goes to the film's subjects, The Dixie Chicks. Director Barbara Kopple was certainly in the right place at the right time, when several years ago during a concert in London, Nathalie Maines, the lead vocalist of the Chicks made a disparaging comment about our President, George W. Bush. Who could predict that the best-selling female musical group in rock history would suddenly find their devoted fans of the Country/Western market turning on them. And it was more than just burning their CD's and banning them from C/W radio stations. Things reached a dramatic peak when Maines received a death threat before a concert. More than the politics, Shut Up & Sing is also a top-notch music documentary about the growth and maturation of a band as the Dixie Chicks are forged in the flames of controversy and come out stronger as a musical outfit in the end. Not being a fan of the Chicks beforehand, I was surprised to find myself buying their new CD and shouting their praises after the film. Now that's the sign of a good documentary. --mrc
 
Sisters in LawSisters in Law - Winners of the 2005 Cannes C.I.C.A.E. Award, Florence Ayisi and Kim Longinotto offer a remarkable and uplifting view into the Family Courts and Criminal Justice System as meted out in the chambers of Court President/Judge Beatrice Ntuba, in Kumba, South West Cameroon. The Women Lawyers Association of Kumba offer representation for Muslim women and children who have been abused, beaten, raped and worse in a culture where these crimes (committed mostly by men) are considered acceptable under Sharia law. There is humor and kindness in this court, as well as a clear determination to protect those too weak to protect themselves in a society that views women and children as the property of the male members of the household, and turns a blind eye toward domestic violence. The court officers project genuine empathy to the victims as they lecture the perpetrators on the error of their ways. Despite the moments in which we cringe to see a little girl covered in scars, or to hear a woman describe her husband’s repeated forcible sexual demands, the directors offer the viewer tangible hope that re-education and true equality for all in the eyes of the law is attainable through a court such as this one. --kp
 
Sisters in LawStreet Fight - In his documentary film Street Fight, director Marshall Curry covers the 2002 mayoral race in Newark, New Jersey between longtime incumbent Sharpe James and rising newcomer Cory Booker. Fans of political documentaries have certainly seen films about young idealists who fight City Hall to better the community. But in this case, the young idealist is an Ivy League-educated African-American and his opponent is a savvy, experienced African-American politician who has no intention of giving up his power. Addressing questions of race, poverty, political corruption, and generational conflict, Street Fight proves masterful in depicting the challenges of attempting to achieve progress through the political system. --gc
 

Best Short Film

Chlotrudis Award Winner!

A Troublesome DesireTrina's Collections by Ellen Lake (USA - 6 minutes) - This short documentary celebrates SF resident Trina Robbins (writer/producer of Go Girl! Comics) and her eclectic collections: girl action figures, super heroines, vintage aprons, rubber bath tub toys, saints, tikis, hawaiiana, and more.

Ellen LakeEllen Lake received her MFA from Mills College in Oakland, California in 2002, where she studied sculpture, film & video, and installation. She is currently working on a series of experimental shorts about collecting. She is the recipient of Bay Area Video Coalition's 2005 Mediamaker Award. Trina’s Collections has been shown at the Roxie Cinema and the Lab in San Francisco, Works/San Jose, Spark Contemporary Art Space in Syracuse, 24 Hour Film Festival and Reel Venus Film Festival in New York City, and the Arizona State University Short Film and Video Festival.

Audience Award!

The Wine BarThe Wine Bar by Christian Remde (USA - 12 minutes) - On a winter night in New York City, an average guy, Henry, wanders into an upscale wine bar looking for a beer. Obviously out of place, Henry innocently offends both the snooty Bartender and Evelyn, the pretty young woman quietlyChristian Remde reading next to him. When Steven, Evelyn's hotheaded boyfriend, comes in looking for a fight, Henry decides to take matters into his own hands.

Christian Remde is an award winning editor and motion graphics artist who’s work has been seen worldwide through clients like Sony, Pepsi, Disney and Miramax. He produced the acclaimed short film, The Petting Zoo and co-wrote the screen adaptation of Peter Straub’s Shadowland. The Wine Bar is Christian’s first narrative directing effort.

 
AlmanacAlmanac by Bruce Knapp (USA - 9 minutes) - With a year's worth of backyard timelapse footage as the back drop, the film chronicles a tenant's relationship with his landlady during her descent into senility.

Bruce KnappRaised near Princeton, NJ, Bruce Knapp studied animation and film at The Rhode Island School of Design. He served as editor in several animation studios before moving up to producer for such series as "Doug", "PB&J Otter", "Sheep In The Big City" and "Codename: Kids Next Door". His personal films include “Time to Check the Radios”, “Time Shift”, “Side Walk” and "Almanac". He is also left handed.

 
Forgetting BettyForgetting Betty by James Anderson and Robert Postrozny (USA - 10 minutes) - Forgetting Bettyweighs the joys of living life against the fears of aging when a 96-year-old widow spends a fleeting day with her grandson.

Robert Postrozny has worked extensively in the media and creative arts for over a decade. One of the principle founders of Post Films, Robert Postrozny and James AndersonRobert has also co-founded a number of other companies and organizations. Robert's talents range from being a published writer to an award-winning painter and actor. James Anderson has worked in film and theatre arts all his life. As an actor, he has performed lead roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford, with the National Youth Theatre at the Glyndebourne Opera House, as well as on television and independent film. He also writes for stage and screen, and has been published in the British press.

 

In the Tradition of My FamilyIn the Tradition of My Family by Todd Davis (USA - 15 minutes) - Billy wants a better scar than the one his father gave him; a tradition of violence that goes back generations is threatened when one father hesitates to indoctrinate his son into the insanity.Todd Davis

Todd Davis holds an MFA degree in Film Production from Boston University. In The Tradition of My Family is his graduate thesis film. He received a merit scholarship from B.U. for his outstanding work, and was a teaching assistant for four semesters of the course 'Directing the Theatrical and Television Film.' He was named runner-up for The Most Promising New England Filmmaker award at the 2006 Boston Underground Film Festival.

 

Portrait AsPortrait As by Claire Fowler (UK - 7 minutes) - A visual portrait of the disabled avant garde filmmaker Stephen Dwoskin, as represented by his environment. The film is a very personal movement through Steve’s past and present, as seen through the house he has lived in for the last 30 years and the objects within it that both surround and representClaire Fowler him- as an individual living with a disability, and as an artist-filmmaker who has enjoyed a long and successful career.

Claire Fowler is an artist who makes 16mm films, video works and print. Her short films have been screened at venues around the UK including the Whitechapel gallery and 291 gallery in London. They have also been shown across Europe, and more recently in the US.

 

ExpatsPuppet by Patrick Smith (USA - 6 minutes) - A young man fabricates a simple sock puppet, not knowing the abuse the entity will soon inflict upon it's creator. Through an escalating series of torture, the possessed puppet takes on the embodiment of fear and willful self-destruction.

Self taught animator Patrick Smith made Patrick Smithhis directorial debut in the Emmy nominated MTV animated series "Down-town." He went on to direct several seasons of the popular series "Daria." Currently, Smith is working full time on independent films. His films have been featured on MTV, several Spike and Mikes collections, Avoid Eye Contact (The best of NYC), and over a hundred international film festivals. Patrick's film Handshake was an official enty in the 6th Annual Chlotrudis Short Film Festival.

 
HandshakeSome Dreams Come True by Christopher Kenworthy (Australia - 7 minutes) - Conrad meets Christopher Kenworthy the girl of his dreams at his wedding - but she isn't the bride. On the most important day of his life, he must make the most important decision of his life.

Christopher Kenworthy has directed many hours of commercial video, two TV comedy pilots and a few hours of drama. He’s the author of The Digital Video Production Cookbook and two novels. The Australian Film Commission sent him to Cannes in 2002, to learn about the industry.

 

SoundsNick PalmerSounds by Nick J. Palmer (USA - 9 minutes) - A terrifying break-in forces an aging mother to face a shocking secret about her son.

Nick Palmer recently graduated from UCLA with a BA in English. He's an award-winning, San Francisco-based filmmaker and photographer who has been making films since he was in grade school. He is currently in pre-production for his latest short, while he finishes up a pair of feature-length screenplays.

 

The Story of BubbleboyThe Story of Bubbleboy by Sean Ascroft (Australia - 6 minutes) - In a stab-happy world, a sad outcast wrestles with his demons.
The story of Bubbleboy is a film about being trapped by the past and redeemed by the future

Sean Ascroft's love of all things cinema has been fired through the years by many things: A farmer bellowing after him “Hey kid, check the gate”, seeing his mother wrapping Christmas presents with “and that’s a wrap.” His 22 years in the advertising industry and countless boozy lunches has brought up seemingly innocent remarks such as “Is that in focus?” Even his grandma ruffing his hair and saying he’s the “best boy” bought a smile to his face. However, the one remark Sean is still eager to hear is “And the winner is…Sean Ascroft.”

 

Til Death Do Us PartTil Death Do Us Part by Bryan Nest (USA - 6 minutes) - A bride dumped on her wedding day decides to jump off a fifteen story building. She throws her wedding ring off first and it happens to fall in a mans cup he is obsessed with fate andBryan Nest coincidence. Now the man must talk her off the ledge to find out if she is his soul mate or not.

Bryan Nest is a twenty-three year old filmmaker from Portland, Oregon. He has a degree in marketing and telemedia communication from Oregon State University, where he produced and directed a live television talk show and made music videos for the college television station. He has worked in news television for several years and has recently made the transition into film by going to graduate school at Chapman University in Orange, California with an emphasis in directing.

 

Special Awards

 

Career-So-Far Award

Tracy WrightThe Chloe Award for 2006 was given to Tracy Wright. Here is Michael Colford's introduction of Tracy Wright entitled The Elusive & Talented Tracy Wright presented at the 13th Annual Chlotrudis Awards Ceremony.

"I am a librarian.  Finding information is what we do.  But let me just tell you, Tracy Wright is one elusive public figure.  I spent hours searching the web and some electronic databases just to come up with a few random snippets of information like, Tracy Wright appeared in ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW.  Hmmm… I knew that.  Tracy Wright was onstage in Daniel MacIvor’s “Beautiful View.”  Check… got that too.  Oh here’s a good one, Tracy Wright co-founded the Augusta Company in 1989 with Don McKellar and Daniel Brooks.  Well guess what, I knew that too.  You can’t even get Tracy’s agency or management information on IMDBPro, so we must resort to harassing her famous friends in order to contact her.  Thanks, Don, by the way.

So clearly there is this talented actress running around north of the border and beyond, quietly doing some outstanding work and no one is talking about it.  Well, it’s time for that to change.  The Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film is talking about Tracy Wright, and we want the world… or at least, the indie film world… to know about her.  Chlotrudis is honoring Tracy’s “Career-so-far,” but ironically, it’s a career that we’ve really only got access to about half of… and that’s just her film and TV work.  There’s a whole other career Tracy’s got going on in the theatre that we can only know about through brief snippets on the web.  Fortunately, the film and television work that we have seen is enough to know this is a career worth honoring.

Tracy Wright makes every film she appears in better.  Whether she appears in a single scene, or in a substantial role as part of an ensemble cast, she makes that film more enjoyable.  Take Bruce McDonald’s HIGHWAY 61, her feature film debut that was released in 1991.  Tracy plays Margo, a spaced out, self-involved rock star who doesn’t appear until ¾ of the way through the film.  She has very few lines, but her presence is riveting in all of the scenes she appears in.  I’ve found that Tracy plays a lot of her scenes silently, and it’s clearly one of her strengths to communicate without speaking.  She appeared in some short films, some directed by her friends like Don McKellar and Daniel MacIvor, and she had a role in Jeremy Podeswa’s little-seen first film, ECLIPSE, but it was her next film that I first really noticed her.  Not in an, oh my god, who is that actor?  She is amazing! I need to see everything she’s ever done Way, but in a hmmm, she was really good, I’m going to file that performance away in my head without really knowing it and when I next see her, I’m going to say, Hey, that was that woman who was in Patricia Rozema’s WHEN NIGHT IS FALLING.  In WHEN NIGHT IS FALLING, Tracy plays Tory, girlfriend/partner to Don McKellar’s Timothy, a couple who run an avant garde circus that is hitting financial difficulties.  Tory admits to Timothy that sometimes she longs to just run away from the circus to a quiet life in the suburbs.  Tracy’s deadpan delivery as a harried circus manager tricks you into pigeon-holing her character, so when she shows some real compassion towards the films conclusion, it is a sweet revelation.

Tracy Wright

Chlotrudis next really gets to see Tracy in her first major role, courtesy of Don McKellar’s directorial debut, LAST NIGHT.  It was here when my mind woke up and noticed that this is the same actress who played in both of the previous films I have mentioned.  The name Tracy Wright now takes residence in my brain.  In LAST NIGHT, Tracy plays Donna, a lonely woman working for the gas company, keeping things running by herself as the world counts down towards its final night.  She has been left by her boss, the only person she thinks she has a connection with, until, during her final hours, she decides to let go and find what life has to offer.  Tracy’s Donna is frumpy and awkward, but she’s also competent, self-aware and funny.  In an extended scene during the midpoint of the film, Tracy wanders through the empty offices of the company, singing along to the radio, checking to make sure everything is running, and finally taking one quick moment to vent her frustration at her absent boss.  It’s a heart-breaking and humorous moment all at once, brought to life by an accomplished actress who doesn’t need to speak a word to convey the complex emotions she’s feeling.

Tracy appeared briefly but notably in a couple of films in the following year, playing a punk, ex-girlfriend in Jeremy Podeswa’s THE FIVE SENSES and a nun in Bruce McCulloch’s SUPERSTAR.  We’ll return to Tracy’s film work in a moment, but I must now mention her outstanding work on television, most notably the much-beloved, short-lived Canadian series, TWITCH CITY.  Tracy appeared in two episodes as Dizelle, a wacky, cat-obsessed conspiracy theorist who turns series regulars Curtis, played by Don McKellar, and Hope, played by Molly Parker lives briefly upside down.  Tracy is flat-out hysterical as the crazed Dizelle, and in this scene one has to wonder if there’s a little improvisation going on.  Note the reactions of her co-stars at the conclusion of the scene.

Tracy plays Tabitha, the recently ex-girlfriend of lead character Rick in Don McKellar’s second directorial effort, CHILDSTAR.  In her few scenes, Tracy conveys a weariness and finality in her relationship with Rick, yet it’s clear that there is still love between them as well, in the way she looks at him with such sadness, even while insulting him.  I have to briefly mention her two extremely brief cameos in another Canadian series, SLINGS & ARROWS, where I believe she only has two lines in two different episodes, but even then they are memorable. 

In 2005, we got a pleasant surprise when Tracy appeared in a substantial role in Miranda July’s debut film, ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW.  Tracy plays Nancy Herrington, a cool, professional gallery curator who is secretly involved in an internet romance.  In another of her most fully realized roles, Tracy conveys a sadness and loneliness masked by a hard façade, and does so in some remarkable scenes where once again, she doesn’t speak at all, and lets her movements and facial expressions reveal so much.  Chlotrudis members can only wait in anticipation for our chance to see MONKEY WARFARE, where she and Don play aging activists railing half-heartedly against the system.  Advance word from the three members who caught this film in Toronto last year is exceedingly positive, and the rest of us will get to enjoy another substantial role from Tracy very soon.

Since information on Tracy was so elusive, I contacted some of our mutual friends to get their thoughts on her talents.

Chlotrudis Body-of-Work Award winner Daniel MacIvor said, “Tracy Wright is a woman of huge heart, fearsome talent, and a more profound cool than the love child of Patti Smith and Lou Reed.  She is indeed the real deal.”  I have to add that Daniel then said to me, “I was thrilled when I heard you were honouring those two.  I love them and love you guys even more than before for loving them.”

Chlotrudis Advisory Board member, and winner of a Special Visionary Director’s Award, Patricia Rozema said, “Tracy is very hard to write this kind of thing for because she has such a keen nose for falseness I would hear her rolling her eyes all the way here in Toronto. The first thing that comes to mind is that Tracy is sometimes shockingly honest. But after the surprise is gone, you can breathe better and deeper, like clean air has swept through the place.  This would only be interesting or maybe useful if she weren't also very, very loving. 

“Something else one might forget to mention in a context like this was brought up by my three year old daughter, who is also her goddaughter. I asked her  what kind of person Tracy is and she thought for a moment and said, ‘Tracy is a Tracy Wrightperson with hair.’

“Congratulations Trace, on all of the above.”

I will leave you with this powerful scene from ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW that brings together so many of Tracy’s outstanding qualities as an actress.  It’s a scene that I’m sure many of you will remember, and it’s heartbreakingly sweet. 

On behalf of the Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film, I am so happy to present the Career-So-Far Award to Tracy Wright.