'Sunshine' spreads joy

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The sun shone on "Little Miss Sunshine" at the 2007 Film Independent's Spirit Awards. The Fox Searchlight release, about quirky family members struggling with their concepts of success, claimed the top prize as best feature Saturday at the annual indie-community event, which honors films produced for less than $20 million (HR 2/26).

"Sunshine" also picked up awards for the directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris; supporting male actor Alan Arkin, who plays the family's uninhibited grandfather; and screenwriter Michael Arndt, who was given the trophy for best first screenplay.

In a show of solidarity, all five of the film's producers took the stage, with Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa — who were denied inclusion in the film's best picture nomination by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — leading off the thank-yous before passing the baton to David Friendly, Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf.

"All five of us producers want to thank first of all Michael Arndt for his excellent script," Berger said.

Added Yerxa: "Many of us, I think, have long felt that this Spirit Award is the highest honor in America for film today, and I must say never more so than today."
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