On Nov. 30, The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) celebrated the 25th Annual IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards at Cipriani Wall Street. IFP is the nation’s premier member organization of independent storytellers. The Gotham Awards is one of the leading awards for independent film. It signals the kick-off to the film awards season. Nominees were selected by committees of film critics, journalists, festival programmers, and film curators. Cate Blanchett was nominated for her work in “Carol.” Brie Larson was nominated for “Room.” Lily Tomlin was nominated for “Grandma” and Kristen Wiig was nominated for “Welcome to Me.” Bel Powley won for her work in “The Diary of a Teenage Girl.” Blythe Danner was nominated for best actress for her performance in “I’ll See You in My Dreams.” The film, which was released by Bleecker Street, has been a sleeper hit. Writer/director Brett Haley was also in attendance. Read our red carpet interviews below:
Shaina Moskowitz: Speak about being part of this project.
Blythe Danner: It’s such a joy to be a part of, I mean, I never thought it would be something that would be so easy. I was really nervous about it because I thought that it would be so difficult being in every scene. I’ve always been a supporting actor, I’ve never had a lead in a film. And I thought ‘I don’t know if I should do this, I don’t know if I have the stamina’ but Brent, the young man behind you, so brilliant, such insight into an older person’s journey, and just made the whole set so comfortable and it ran so smoothly. It was actually easier than I thought it would be.
SM: Speak about working with Sam Elliot.
BD: And we had to kiss the first day of the film, so you know I was a little bit edgy about that white mustache and all the rest of it. But he couldn’t have been sweeter, and it really went very well.
SM: What did you learn about yourself?
BD: I learned that I would like to be more like that character. I thought she was very rooted, she was alone, but she handled it well. She wasn’t afraid of what was ahead. I admired her.
SM: You have a great voice. Would you ever do a one woman show?
BD: I never could do a one-woman anything. To me, acting is reacting. I love to sing, but I don’t think I have the skill, talent, whatever to do a cabaret. You have to have a lot of good stories, I don’t think I’d be good at that.
SM: Speak about making the film realistic.
Brett Haley: Well unfortunately the film is not one of those walk off into the sunset films. It’s about loss and dealing with loss and how none of us can get through life unscathed. So if I made a film that pulled punches it wouldn’t be real, it wouldn’t get to the theme that I was after. The movie is at times sad, but overall I think it’s very fun and funny and hopefully life affirming and hopeful. That was definitely the idea.
SM: What inspired the film?
BH: I just imagined it, I didn’t do any research or it’s not based on anyone I know. And I know that it’s strange, people are like why did you write this movie, but it rally was just exploring those themes, and for me the vessel for the themes that I wanted to explore was a 70 year old widow, so Blythe Danner was the first person that came to mind and I’m so happy that she’s being recognized tonight. I’m super proud of her. This is her first leading role at 72, and she’s just the greatest, I love her to death.
SM: Speak about the film’s success.
BH: The movie’s done very well. We’ve made about seven and a half million but we’re a five hundred thousand dollar movie so we’re super pumped about all the attention that we’ve gotten and that we found an audience, and that people came out for it. That’s all you can really hope for when you make a movie with no studio, no production company attached, you just scrape the money together get a great cast, go premiere at Sundance. And people have really responded to the film, I hope that people continue to discover it because I feel like all of the performances, but especially Blythe’s performance is really special and will be talked about I hope in years to come. I think people will rediscover it and see one of the great actors of our generations one of the great character actors of her generation doing her first leading role at 72, and in my opinion doing amazing work.
SM: How did you get your start in film?
BH: Well I used to work for a director named John Hillcoat. He’s been a big part of my career, he’s someone I stay in touch with and really respect. But just on this carpet here there’s Todd Haynes and Tom McCarthy who are just incredible people that I’ve looked up to and admired and I love their films. It’s actually sort of the most exciting part of being here. Just being around some of the people I admire so much in this business. It’s just lovely.
SM: What’s next for you?
BH: Well hopefully another movie. We’ve already written two movies my co-writer and I who wrote “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” Marc Basch. We’ve written two films and a television show we’ve written as well. We’re just trying to get those two things going and hope something sticks to the wall that’s what we gotta do … It’s loosely based on my dad who’s a cop, and it’s based on some of his experiences as a cop in the 1970’s.
The evening was presented by euphoria Calvin Klein, the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward Office of Film, Music and Entertainment, FIJI Water, Maestro Dobel Tequila and Line 39 Wines.