Rocky Road to Cred and Clout

10 years ago, there were ques­tions and mis­steps that were ad­dressed and Gothams are a powerhouse

Variety - - Exposure | Dirt Parties Wwd Report Card Devour - STORY BY ADDIE MORFOOT

SINCE BE­COM­ING THE In­de­pen­dent Film Project’s ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor in late 2009, Joana Vi­cente has made her mark. In ad­di­tion to in­creas­ing IFP’S grant sup­port, she also helped found the Made in NY Me­dia Cen­ter and tran­si­tioned IFP from a film-based foun­da­tion to an org that sup­ports var­i­ous me­dia.

But per­haps Vi­cente’s most rec­og­nized achieve­ment is her trans­for­ma­tion of the Gotham Awards. Once known as a low-key, New York- cen­tric event, the an­nual ku­dos­fest is now seen as a cred­i­ble Academy Award bell­wether for in­de­pen­dent films.

Held in late Novem­ber, the Gothams are the first stop on the long and wind­ing road of awards sea­son. But only re­cently, un­der Vi­cente’s lead­er­ship, has the kud­ofest be­come a crit­i­cal early cam­paign event for un­der­dog con­tenders.

From 2014 through 2016 the Gothams hon­ored “Bird­man,” “Spot­light” and “Moon­light” re­spec­tively. Each film went on to gar­ner an Os­car for best pic­ture. Last year, Jor­dan Peel’s “Get Out” took home the screen­play Gotham be­fore gar­ner­ing the Os­car in the same cat­e­gory.

In 2013, Matthew Mc­conaughey won the lead ac­tor Gotham for “Dal­las Buy­ers Club.” Prior to the cer­e­mony, Leonardo Di­caprio and Bruce Dern were favorites. Post- Gothams, Mc­conaughey be­came the Os­car fron­trun­ner and even­tu­ally won.

“When [Mc­conaughey] won the Os­car, that was a very im­por­tant mo­ment for us,” Vi­cente says. “It changed the level of the tal­ent at­tend­ing the show and how dis­trib­u­tors looked at us.”

This year’s 28th Gotham Awards on Nov. 26 marks Vi­cente’s fi­nal show as exec direc­tor. In Au­gust she was named ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor and co-head of the Toronto Intl. Film Fes­ti­val.

In ad­di­tion to Mc­conaughey’s win, Vi­cente's proud­est Gotham mem­o­ries in­clude two lead ac­tress ac­cep­tance speeches from Brie Lar­son and Is­abelle Hup­pert in 2013 and 2016 for “Short Term

Proud Perch Saoirse Ro­nan takes the stage to ac­cept the best ac­tress award for "Lady Bird" at last year's IFP Gotham Awards in New York.

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