'Hurt Locker' nabs two Gotham awards

'Food, Inc.' takes home top documentary prize

As the awards season skirmishes begin, Summit's "The Hurt Locker" has scored an early victory, picking up two trophies Monday night at the Independent Film Project's 19th annual Gotham Independent Film Awards.

The Iraq-set drama about an Army bomb squad, written by Mark Boal and produced by Boal, Nicolas Chartier and Greg Shapiro, was named best feature and captured the award for best ensemble performance.

Kathryn Bigelow, the film's director, was the recipient of a career tribute at the awards ceremony held at Cipriani Wall Street in New York.

The ensemble award was shared by the movie's cast -- Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Ralph Fiennes, Guy Pearce, David Morse and Evangeline Lilly -- and casting director Mark Bennett.

The best documentary prize went to Magnolia's "Food, Inc.," an expose of the corporate food industry that was directed by Robert Kenner and produced by Kenner and Elise Pearlstein.

Robert Siegel was hailed as breakthrough director for his helming debut "Big Fan," the First Independent Pictures release in which Patton Oswalt plays a dedicated New York Giants follower.

Catalina Saavedra was presented the breakthrough actor award for her performance as a servant who has served a Chilean family for more than 20 years in Elephant Eye Films' "The Maid," directed by Sebastian Silva.

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"You Won't Miss Me," directed, co-written and produced by Ry Russo-Young, about an out-of-control young woman in New York, was named Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You. The pic, which played the Sundance Film Festival, will receive a cash award of $5,000 provided by Reiff & Associates, a brokerage firm specializing in arts and entertainment insurance.

In addition to Bigelow, tributes were bestowed on actors Natalie Portman and Stanley Tucci and Working Title co-chairmen Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. The ceremony was hosted by comedian Kumail Nanjiani.

While the Gothams should contribute to the momentum developing around "Locker," the film will not surface today when the West Coast weighs in with the announcement of Film Independent's Spirit Award noms. The Spirits included "Locker" among its lineup of 2008 films, giving noms last year to Renner and Mackie.