Kaufman Film Wins Two Spirit Awards
Charlie Kaufman, right, directs Philip Seymour Hoffman in Synecdoche, New York
Los Angeles, CA (February 23, 2008) –
Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut – the edgy Synecdoche, New York – won two top honors Saturday at the 2009 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
Synecdoche, New York won in the best first feature film category, where the award goes to the director (Kaufman) and the producers (Anthony Bregman, Spike Jonze, and Sidney Kimmel), and received the coveted Robert Altman Award, which is given to one film's director (Kaufman), casting director (Jeanne McCarthy), and its ensemble cast (Hope Davis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Catherine Keener, Samantha Morton, Tom Noonan, Emily Watson, Dianne Wiest, and Michelle Williams). Mr. Kaufman, who wrote part of the screenplay for Synecdoche, New York at Yaddo, also was nominated in the best screenplay category. It had been announced late last year that Synecdoche, New York would receive the Robert Altman Award at this year’s Spirit Awards ceremony.
Synecdoche, New York is the story of a troubled theater director (Hoffman) who receives a MacArthur "Genius" Award and decides to use the grant to gather an ensemble cast into a huge warehouse in Manhattan's theater district, where he instructs them to live their lives in a small mockup of the city outside. As his personal life unravels, the director replaces himself with an actress and enters his constructed world as a character in the action. Synecdoche, New York premiered in competition last year at the 61st Annual Cannes Film Festival and in theaters nationwide in late October. The title of the film is a play on Yaddo's neighboring city of Schenectady, New York, where some of the action takes place, and a figure of speech meaning the acceptance of a part of the responsibility for something or a term denoting one thing used to refer to a related thing.
Although Synecdoche, New York is the first feature film written and directed by Mr. Kaufman, he made his name as the screenwriter for previous hits such as Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation, and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. He is the recipient of numerous honors for his writing, including a best original screenplay Oscar for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Film Independent is an open enrollment and non-profit membership organization that champions independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and unique vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds the audience for their projects, and works to diversify the film industry. The Spirit Awards honor those whose work demonstrates independence and creativity outside the status quo. More than 250 films were considered for the 2009 awards. Eligible films must be at least 70 minutes long, and the cost of the completed film, including post-production, must be under $20 million. Nominated films must have been shown in a commercial theater for at least one week between January 1 and December 31, 2008 or shown at one of a number of select film festivals during the same time period.
Read more about Charlie Kaufman's Synecdoche, New York here.