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The Independent Spirit Awards paid tribute to three well-known figures in the world of independent film, all of whom died over the past year.
Midway through the Santa Monica-set awards show, Cate Blanchett introduced a tribute to James Gandolfini, film critic Roger Ebert and her friend Philip Seymour Hoffman, whom she called “a sublimely talented actor.”
During the emotional tribute, which consisted of rotating images of all three people, 12 Years a Slave producer Brad Pitt seemed to have tears in his eyes.
The crowd gave the trio a standing ovation after the tribute.
Ebert died in April 2013 after a long battle with cancer. He was a longtime advocate of independent cinema, with both the Telluride and Toronto film festivals paying tribute to him this past year. He was a fixture at both festivals as well as Sundance, which premiered Life Itself, the documentary about the late critic, at this year’s edition.
Gandolfini died unexpectedly of a heart attack in June 2013. One of his final films, Fox Searchlight’s Enough Said, hit theaters in September and received great acclaim and a handful of awards nominations, including two Independent Spirits, for Gandolfini and for Nicole Holofcener‘s screenplay.
Hoffman died less than a month ago of a toxic mix of drugs, including heroin and cocaine. He was found with a needle sticking out of his arm in his New York City apartment. Blanchett worked with Hoffman on a number of films, and he starred in multiple indie pictures, including The Master and Capote, for which he won the best actor Oscar. Hoffman won three Independent Spirit Awards, for Capote, The Savages and Synecdoche, New York, which he shared with the film’s cast, director Charlie Kaufman and its casting director.
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