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2000 IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards

SANTA MONICA, Calif., March 25, 2000 — Instead of the Shrine Auditorium, it’s a tent on the Santa Monica beach. Instead of evening gowns and tuxedos, it’s sundresses and morning suits. And instead of “Titanic”-size contenders, the films in contention for the IFP/West’s 15th Annual Independent Spirit Awards cost — at most — less than Julia Roberts’ salary.

But many of the nominees were also looking forward to the Academy Awards the next evening; nominees Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny (both of “Boys Don’t Cry”) and Richard Farnsworth (“The Straight Story”) enjoyed the afternoon sun before suiting up for the Oscar red carpet. Consequently, they all walked off with awards.

The event also saw an eclectic group of directors, from Robert Altman to Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino to John Waters, David Lynch to Pedro Almodóvar. Soderbergh just directed the studio moneymaker “Erin Brockovich,” but says he still considers himself an independent filmmaker.

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“That [independent] definition changes daily,” Soderbergh said. “[But] I had as much control over ‘Erin Brockovich’ as I did over ‘The Limey.’ I don’t see the difference.”

Film critic Roger Ebert remembers when the Spirit Awards began in much smaller venues — “in someone’s living room” — and likes how far it’s come.

“There’s a lot of networking going on, a lot of catching up, people keeping up each other’s spirits,” Ebert said. “A lot of encouraging going on.”

Others in attendance included “Tumbleweeds” stars Janet McTeer and Kimberly J. Brown; “The Limey’s” Peter Fonda, Terence Stamp and Lesley Ann Warren; “The Straight Story’s” Farnsworth, David Lynch and Harry Dean Stanton; “American Beauty’s” Chris Cooper, Mena Suvari and Wes Bentley (nearly unrecognizable in beard and sunglasses); John Cusack, Lynn Redgrave, Jeff Bridges, Bill Pullman, Don Cheadle, Eric Stoltz, Denise Richards and emcee Jennifer Tilly.

Here’s a list of the winners:

Best Feature: “Election”

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Best First Feature (Over $500,000): “Being John Malkovich”

Best First Feature (Under $500,000): “The Blair Witch Project”

Best Director: Alexander Payne (“Election”)

Best Female Lead: Hilary Swank (“Boys Don’t Cry”)

Best Male Lead: Richard Farnsworth (“The Straight Story”)

Best Supporting Female: Chloë Sevigny (“Boys Don’t Cry”)

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Best Supporting Male: Steve Zahn (“Happy, Texas”)

Best Debut Performance: Kimberly J. Brown (“Tumbleweeds”)

Best Screenplay: Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor (“Election”)

Best First Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman (“Being John Malkovich”)

Best Cinematographer: Lisa Rinzler (“Three Seasons”)

Best Foreign Film: “Run Lola Run” (Germany)

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