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'Brokeback' wins honors at independent film awards

Written by: Staff

LOS ANGELES, Mar 5 (Reuters) The gay cowboys of ''Brokeback Mountain'' lassoed the best feature prize at the Independent Spirit Awards, the art-house world's equivalent of the Oscars, a day before the picture competes for a leading eight honors at the Academy Awards.

Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee was named best director for the his work on the acclaimed drama, but the film had to share the spotlight with three other double-winners that will also vie for Oscar glory.

''Capote'' took home the awards for male lead (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and screenplay (Dan Futterman); ''Transamerica'' won for female lead (Felicity Huffman) and first screenplay (Duncan Tucker); and ''Crash'' picked up honors for supporting male (Matt Dillon) and first feature.

There is traditionally little crossover with the Academy Awards, since the Oscars generally favor big studio films. But this year could prove the exception as ''Brokeback Mountain'' has swept virtually every awards show.

Nobody was jinxing their chances by making grand forecasts about the Academy Awards.

''I don't want to speculate too much, 'cos it will get me crazy,'' said Dillon, who was Oscar-nominated for his supporting role as a sexually abusive cop in ''Crash.'' Hoffman, the favorite to win the best actor Oscar for his role as novelist Truman Capote, described his Spirit Award win as ''ludicrous ... I've been given enough.'' Huffman was happy that ''Transamerica,'' in which she plays a preoperative transsexual, was bringing ''inclusiveness and understanding (to) people that are disenfranchised.'' She faces stiff competition for the best actress Oscar from Reese Witherspoon, who played country singer June Carter in ''Walk the Line.'' LITIGATING PRODUCERS The two victories for ''Crash'' forced two of its dueling backers to share the spotlight, amid litigation over withholding profits and producer credits. Producers Cathy Schulman and Tom Nunan are suing the film's financier, Bob Yari, alleging in part that he withheld millions in profits.

Schulman and Yari shared the podium backstage in the press area without acknowledging each other, and screenwriter Bobby Moresco angrily deflected questions about the litigation.

Yari, a real estate developer, has filed separate suits against the Producers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which organizes the Oscars, for allegedly denying him a fair procedure when they ruled against his producing credit on ''Crash.'' He said he would still be ''ecstatic'' if the film won the best picture Oscar.

In other categories, the controversial Palestinian suicide-bomber drama ''Paradise Now'' won for best foreign film, and the big-business morality tale ''Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room'' won for best documentary. Both are competing for Oscars in their respective fields.

The Independent Spirit Awards, now in their 21st year, honor low-budget films based on such criteria as original, provocative subject matter and the degree of independent financing.

The Independent Spirit for supporting female went to Amy Adams, for her role as a kind-hearted southern belle in ''Junebug.'' She will also compete for an Oscar.

The leading Independent Spirit nominee, the family drama ''The Squid and the Whale,'' was beaten in all of its six categories.

The Independent Spirit Awards are organized by Film Independent, a group that nurtures indie filmmakers, and winners are determined by the group's 9,000 members nationwide.


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