Highlights From The 28th Annual IFP Gotham Awards

<> on November 26, 2018 in New York City.

Check out some of our interviews from the 28th Annual IFP Gotham Awards.

The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) hosted its annual ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. The Premier Sponsor of the 2018 IFP Gotham Awards was The New York Times, and the Platinum Sponsor was GreenSlate. The Official Water Partner was FIJI Water, the Official Chocolate Partner was Lindt Chocolate and the Official Wine Partner was Robert Hall Winery. Lindt gifted each attendee with its custom designed “Award Show” box with over 20 delectable LINDOR Milk Chocolate truffles inside just in time for the holidays. The Gotham Awards gifted a half case each of Robert Hall’s red and white wine to all the tribute honorees and presenters.

Winning the award for Best Actor was Ethan Hawke for his performance in First Reformed. Scoring a second award for First Reformed was veteran writer/director Paul Schrader who won the Best Screenplay award.

The Knockturnal: What does this award mean to you?

Paul Schrader: A very gratified rounding out of something I started to do 50 years ago. Sometimes it works out that way.

The Knockturnal: Tell me what inspired the film besides your Sunday school experiences.

Paul Schrader: I had a religious upbringing, training, schooling. And I had written about spiritual films. But I never thought I would make one. And I never did. And then about three years ago after talking with Pawel Pawlikowski, I gave him an award for Ida, I realized it’s now time. The time to write a spiritual film that you said you would never write. And that’s how it got started.

The Knockturnal: Did you also visualize Ethan Hawke in the lead role?

Paul Schrader: Somewhere in the writing of the script he started to come into my mind, yes.

The Knockturnal: What are you doing next?

Paul Schrader: I’m hoping to do a film with Ethan and Willem but we’ll see.

The IFP Gotham Audience Award, voted by IFP members, went to Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Morgan Neville’s intimate – and massively popular – documentary on Fred Rogers.

The Knockturnal: Tell me what it means to be honored by the Gothams, tonight.

Morgan Neville: It means I’m cool. I mean I’ve been making films for a long time. I love the Gothams. I’ve been to the Gothams. I’ve been on the jury for the Gothams. I never won a Gotham before. This is actually very meaningful because Gothams honor films that are really by filmmakers or film-lovers, by artists who appreciate the craft of film-making.

The Knockturnal: Did you ever have a moment where said, “How can I make a documentary about such a nice guy?”

Morgan Neville:  Yes. Big time. Fred Rogers is the quintessential two-dimensional character. So how do you make a film about somebody who is cardboard, ya know; but, of course, the reality is he’s not cardboard, he was an incredibly complex person who just showed a certain part of himself to the public; but to me it was more this instinctual feeling of, “Oh my God. This is the voice I’m missing in my life. I’m missing in the culture. Where are the adults? Mister Rogers is an adult who can teach us how to be nice to each other again.” That was really kind of this feeling that I had and I wanted to make the film.

The Knockturnal: Your movie is really connecting with people.

Morgan Neville: In a big way, which I didn’t know. I wanted to make the film because I felt like it was important; but I think a lot of people are starving for some kindness in our culture. We live in toxic times and people are craving somebody who actually speaks to our better angels and Mister Rogers is that.

The Knockturnal: What’s next?

Morgan Neville: I do a show called Ugly Delicious on Netflix. We are working on season two. A show called Abstract; we are doing season two. I haven’t picked my next documentary. I’m looking avidly.

If Beale Street Could Talk was nominated for Best Feature. We spoke with star Stephan James on the red carpet.

The Knockturnal: What does being at the Gothams mean to you?

Stephan James: It means everything. It’s a special thing because you sort of remember the roots of this film that started as an indie film, a little tiny dream that Barry had to adopt this novel. It has all come to life. Its grown legs … so it’s a dream.

The Knockturnal: It’s a beautiful book. How did you immerse yourself in bringing the book to life?

Stephan James: What’s so remarkable about James Baldwin is that he puts so much on the page. As an actor it’s everything you could ever want. There’s so much material for you to look at. We pretty much had the novel in our back pockets while making this film. For me, my biggest inspiration was the story of Kalief Browder, a young man who, in New York in 2010 was sentenced to three years in prison for the theft of a backpack, a crime that he didn’t commit so he ends up spending two and a half years in solitary confinement. For me, his story spoke to so many other young men in this country who are going through some of the same things. I wanted to be a vessel, to send that message, to speak for so many voiceless young men.

The Knockturnal: What was the biggest challenge, then? 

Stephan James: I think that it’s just honoring the material, being truthful to the material. Again, luckily Baldwin’s words resonated so heavily today and almost eerily that he had written these words in 1974. They meant so much in 2017, so much in 2018. It’s just about telling the truth and making sure that we’re adapting Baldwin for the first time the right way.

Crystal Moselle was nominated for Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award for Skate Kitchen from Magnolia Pictures.

The Knockturnal: What does this nomination mean to you?

Crystal Moselle: I just feel honored that I created this piece of work that people are recognizing.

The Knockturnal: And you come from a documentary filmmaking background. But this is your first scripted feature. Tell me about that transition.

Crystal Moselle: The transition to scripted felt incredibly intuitive for me because I like to collaborate with people I’m working with, and in documentary you really have to step back and observe. And I like to work with people more.

The Knockturnal: So what was the biggest challenge in doing this?

Crystal Moselle: Every step of the way was a challenge. (laughs) It was so challenging. Every step there was something that would freak me out and make me feel inadequate, and then you get over it. And then you become stronger and you learn. You work things out.

The Knockturnal: How are the Wolfpack kids doing, by the way?

Crystal Moselle They’re doing great. I was at their house for Halloween. They had their yearly Halloween party.

The Knockturnal: Aren’t several of them in the movie business?

Crystal Moselle Some of them are working in the camera department, as PAs. One works at a movie theater. They’re all kind of doing their own thing.

The Knockturnal: What’s next for you?

Crystal Moselle: I’m potentially going to do a TV show.

The Knockturnal: You created it?

Crystal Moselle Yeah. And I have a film that I’m writing with my father. It’s based on his time working at a mental hospital in the mid-70s.

The Knockturnal: Sounds kind of dark, actually.

Crystal Moselle: It’s dark.

Oscilloscope Laboratories Madeline’s Madeline was nominated for Best Feature. Helena Howard was nominated for Breakthrough Actor. The film was directed by Josephine Decker and produced by Krista Parris and Elizabeth Rao. Check out our interviews below:

The Knockturnal: What does it mean to be nominated.

Josephine Decker: First of all, it’s a lot of fun to be here, because I feel like you work long and hard on these movies and then it’s really nice to be invited to celebrate the work that you’ve been putting in. Also, I think we just feel really humbled that such an unconventional film and an unconventional process is being lauded alongside my favorite filmmakers. It’s a big honor to be in the best picture category.

The Knockturnal: What inspired the movie?

Josephine Decker: This one (Helena Howard) inspired the movie. I saw her do a monologue at a teen arts festival in New Jersey. It floored me, and I cried. Then she cried. I had no notes as the judge of this festival. I chased her down the hall and was like, “Let’s make some work together.” Yeah, that was the beginning. Then it was about many things.

The Knockturnal: How was the collaborative process for you?

Helena Howard: Very collaborative and amazing. Josephine is awesome. She’s a beautiful person inside and out. She’s such a great director to get to know and work with. This was my first movie.

The Knockturnal: What’s next for both of you?

Josephine Decker: I’m directing a feature film called Shirley. It’s a historical fiction about the writer Shirley Jackson who wrote The Lottery. Elizabeth Moss is in it. We’re just editing that now.

The Knockturnal: Elizabeth Moss is a big deal.

Josephine Decker: She’s a great, great actress and great human being too. Yeah, we had fun. It’s really nice to get to come and celebrate our film. If you’re ever gonna make a work with a person, I recommend you make it Helena Howard, because she’s a very special human to get to know and really blew my mind open. We spent two years collaborating to make the scripts for this.  It was really special now that it’s coming out into the world.

Helena Howard: I did a short with Aly Migliori and also I just finished a film with director Stephen Kijak and actors Joe Manganiello and Ellar Coltrane and some other actors.

HBO’s Sharp Objects was nominated for Breakthrough Series – Long Form. We spoke with EP Jessica Rhoades on the red carpet.

The Knockturnal: How did you come to produce HBO’s Sharp Objects?

Jessica Rhoades: I was running television for Blumhouse, and we had the rights to the book that Jason and Charles had grabbed as a feature, and it was Marti Noxon who had said, “This is a TV series.” And so I got very lucky. It’s like my second day. Jason was like, “I think we’re going to do this as a TV show.” And I had been a Marti fan forever, so it was the dream for me.

The Knockturnal: And Blumhouse is like one of the hottest studios on the block right now. How did you start working for them? 

Jessica Rhoades: I was running TV when they were a production company, and I’m a producer through and through, so they just transitioned to a studio, and I went back independent, so I produced Sharp Objects as an EP independently. And I now produce The Affair, as well, for Sarah Treem, and The Village, upcoming mid season on NBC.

The Knockturnal: So how was working with Amy  Adams on this?

Jessica Rhoades: The secret that is about to be out of the bag is that as exquisite as an actress Amy is, she’s as incredible a producing partner. She has the most incredible producer’s brain, and like you don’t even want her to take that producing hat off sometimes, put on the acting hat. She’s amazing.

The Knockturnal: What was a highlight of the whole experience working on the show?

Jessica Rhoades: Oh my god. There’s so many. I honestly think there were some really late nights, and some really dark scenes, and the way you kind of shake it off is you laugh, and you giggle, and Amy and I would dream about margaritas, and chips and salsa, and you just crack up, and those are the moments that you remember from the making of.

The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) honored two-time Emmy Award-winning television host, bestselling author, filmmaker and activist Sandra Lee with the “Made in NY” Award during the 2018 IFP Gotham Awards ceremony. Lee is best known for her 27 books, iconic lifestyle magazine and her food/lifestyle series Semi-Homemade which ran for 15 seasons and was filmed in New York City. In 2015, Lee was diagnosed with early stage cancer and decided to document her journey. She allowed unrestricted camera access for the making of HBO’s Documentary Short, Rx: Early Detection, A Cancer Journey with Sandra Lee. The film was shot on a single tiny hand-held camera primarily in New York City and chronicles her most private at home and hospital moments along with her unfiltered surgical procedures.

“It is an incredible award, because this is an incredible room to be in. But “Made in NY” is one of those awards that’s just an iconic award, and normally they give it to real movement makers. Spike Lee, Lee Daniels, Whoopi Goldberg, Meryl Streep, those are all movement makers. And for this film to be able to be in that company is pretty incredible. So, my goal, hopefully with the power of this room, is to bring to the forefront that cancer is a crisis. Like AIDS was a crisis, it’s not any longer. And we need to focus on cancer like we did AIDS, and we need to eradicate it because it’s affecting our children now, younger and younger, that’s where the epidemic is coming from,” Lee told us on the red carpet.


The 28th Annual Gotham Award recipients are:

For Best Feature, presented by Patricia Clarkson

The Rider

Directed by Chloé Zhao

Produced by Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Mollye Asher, and Chloé Zhao

Released by Sony Pictures Classics

The Best Feature jury included Judy Becker, Geoffrey Fletcher, Jon Hamm, Catherine Keener, and Bill Pohlad.

For Best Documentary, presented by Keegan-Michael Key 

Hale County This Morning, This Evening

Directed by RaMell Ross

Produced by RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes, and Su Kim

Released by The Cinema Guild

The Best Documentary jury included Rachel Grady, Alan Jacobsen, Asif Kapadia, Ross Kauffman, and Dawn Porter.


For the IFP Gotham Audience Award, presented by Mj Rodriguez

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Directed by Morgan Neville

Produced by Morgan Neville, Caryn Capotosto, and Nicholas Ma

Released by Focus Features

The Audience Award was voted for on-line by IFP members.


For Best Actor, presented by Alessandro Nivola

Ethan Hawke in First Reformed

Released by A24

The Best Actor jury included Lisa Cortés, Alexa Fogel, Alessandro Nivola, Mike White, and Constance Wu.


For Best Actress, presented by Kieran Culkin

Toni Collette in Hereditary

Released by A24

The Best Actress jury included Sean Baker, Malcolm D. Lee, Sam Levy, Alix Madigan, and Gabourey Sidibe


For Best Screenplay, presented by Rupert Friend

Paul Schrader for First Reformed

Released by A24

The Best Screenplay jury included Stephen McKinley Henderson, Phyllis Nagy, Whit Stillman, Michael Taylor, and DeWanda Wise.


For Breakthrough Actor, presented by Regina Hall

Elsie Fisher in Eighth Grade

Released by A24

The Breakthrough Actor jury included Anna Boden, Effie Brown, Chris Messina, Zac Stuart Pontier, and Lois Smith.


For Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director, presented by Barry Jenkins

Bo Burnham for Eighth Grade

Released by A24

The Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director jury included Wren Arthur, Natasha Lyonne, Matthew Porterfield, Kathryn Schubert, and Alfre Woodard.


For Breakthrough Series – Long Form, presented by Amy Seimetz and Taylor Schilling

Killing Eve

Executive Produced by Sally Woodward Gentle, Lee Morris, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge

BBC America

The Breakthrough Series – Long Form jury included Radha Blank, M. Blair Breard, Tatiana Maslany, Amy Seimetz, and Samira Wiley.


For Breakthrough Series – Short Form, presented by Amy Seimetz and Taylor Schilling

195 Lewis

Created by Rae Leone Allen and Yaani Supreme

Executive Produced by Chanelle Aponte Pearson

The Breakthrough Series-Short Form award was voted for on-line by IFP members


Special Jury Award for Ensemble Performance, presented by Cynthia Nixon

The Favourite

Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz

Released by Fox Searchlight Pictures


Photo Credit:

Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images

Craig Barritt / Getty Images

Bill Davila/Startrakshoto http://startraksphoto.com


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