Look who's stepping up to the mike

Un-Oscars Independent Spirit Awards will have as host that independent spirit of Baltimore, director John Waters.


January 12, 2001|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN FILM CRITIC

This year's Independent Spirit Award, feisty cousin to the Oscars, should prove even more off-center than usual. Organizers have hired Baltimore's own John Waters to serve as host.

"I feel like Buddy Hackett and Satyajit Ray," Waters said yesterday. (Hackett, of course, is a perennial second banana and Friars Club mainstay, while Ray was a revered Indian filmmaker.) "I gave the keynote speech two years ago, so I guess I impressed them enough to invite me back."

The Spirits, held annually in Santa Monica on the day before the Oscars, honor films made outside the Hollywood mainstream, although the definition of "outside the mainstream" has been stretched pretty thin of late; see the list of nominees below. The atmosphere is a lot more loose, the dress a lot less formal and the audience a lot less massive.

"It's a hipper event, but sometimes a lot of the same people show up at both awards shows," Waters says, noting that last year he presented an award alongside Hilary Swank, who would go on the following day to win a Best Actress Oscar for "Boys Don't Cry" (Waters says that Swank mistook Steve Buscemi for him earlier in the day - a common mix-up).

"Everyone here is `edgier than thou,' that's what my speech is going to be about," Waters says.

He described the Spirits as "very L.A. It's the day before the Oscars, it's got all the movie stars and everybody gets to meet each other. It's the kind of stars I want to meet. Plus, they give away lots of good free stuff."

The nominees for the 2001 Independent Spirit Awards, to be handed out March 24, include:

Best Feature: "Chuck and Buck"; "Requiem for a Dream"; "George Washington"; "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai"; "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

Best Male Lead: Javier Bardem, "Before Night Falls"; Adrien Brody, "Restaurant"; Billy Crudup, "Jesus' Son"; Hill Harper, "The Visit"; Mark Ruffalo, "You Can Count On Me."

Best Female Lead: Joan Allen, "The Contender"; Ellen Burstyn, "Requiem For a Dream"; Sanaa Lathan, "Love and Basketball"; Laura Linney, "You Can Count On Me"; Kelly MacDonald, "Two Family House."

Best Director: Ang Lee, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"; Christopher Guest, "Best In Show"; Darren Aronofsky, "Requiem For a Dream"; Miguel Arteta, "Chuck and Buck"; Julian Schnabel, "Before Night Falls."

Best Foreign Film: "Dancer In the Dark"; "In the Mood For Love"; "The Terrorist"; "A Time for Drunken Horses"; "The War Zone."

Waters' take on the nominations: "I was always hoping `Dude, Where's My Car?' would sweep the thing."

Film Festival news

The dates for this year's Maryland Film Festival have been set. The third annual celebration of all things cinematic will take place May 3-6.

Founding director Jed Dietz has juggled the festival's management structure, with three new appointments: Dan Krovich, a volunteer at the first two festivals, has been named Programming Administrator; local underground film impresario Skizz Cyzyk has been named Programming Manager; and Mary Kerr, a graduate of the University of Maryland College Park and a programmer for the Los Angeles Film Festival, has been named Industry Advisory Council Chair.

One more bit of news: the Maryland Film Festival will become lead sponsor of Microcinefest, Baltimore's annual underground film festival.

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