Oscar Buzz, Gotham Noms for Chicago Indie SAINT FRANCES
November 12, 2020 by Screenmag
For a small Chicago indie that has had an unbelievable festival and awards run, this week might be the biggest yet. The critically acclaimed SAINT FRANCES, which made its World Premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in March of 2019, is now at the precipice of the independent film world, with two nominations from the prestigious Gotham Awards, as well as a boost of Oscar buzz for the team.
First, the Gotham Awards. SAINT FRANCES director Alex Thompson has been nominated for the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award while actor (and writer) Kelly O'Sullivan has received a nomination for Breakthrough Actor. It's a remarkable achievement for this low-budget independent feature, that catapulted onto the national scene after winning Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Voice and the coveted Audience Award at SXSW following its 2019 World Premiere in Austin.
"I was surprised and totally delighted and grateful for the film to be recognized on that level," Kelly O'Sullivan told SCREEN. "So many talented people worked so hard to make the movie and get it out there, especially with its release being pivoted to online because of COVID. We know Alex and my nominations are really for the entire team that made SAINT FRANCES."
Director Alex Thompson was equally surprised and honored. "Kelly told me the news. I'd slept in, and literally waking up to it, not even having to turn on my phone, was a great feeling," Thompson told SCREEN. "Learning the other films and filmmakers nominated was humbling."
Here is the trailer for the Gotham Award nominee and SXSW Audience Award winner SAINT FRANCES:
Oscar Buzz Building?
As IndieWire's Zack Sharf notes in his article today, the Gotham nominations can lead to Oscar glory for features. "While the Gotham Awards don’t always overlap with the Oscars, they often play a key role in elevating films into the overall awards conversation since the ceremony is the first of the season. Past acting winners like Adam Driver (MARRIAGE STORY), Awkwafina (THE FAREWELL), Ethan Hawke (FIRST REFORMED), and Toni Collette (HEREDITARY) all had Oscar momentum following the Gothams, with Driver nabbing an Oscar nom for Best Actor. Noah Baumbach’s MARRIAGE STORY won last year’s Gotham Award for Best Feature on its way to a Best Picture nom at the Oscars. The Gotham Best Documentary winner AMERICAN FACTORY repeated at the Oscars."
And to that point, Variety this week included SAINT FRANCES in its prestigious list of features in contention for the Oscars and major accolades throughout the upcoming awards season. Click here to check out the full article from Clayton Davis.
"We’re so incredibly honored to be in the conversation during this awards season with our small homegrown indie that could," Producer James Choi told SCREEN. "From all the incredible Chicago actors, to the immensely talented crew and everyone who lent a helping hand, the recognition by Variety and the Gotham Awards noms represent the vibrancy of the Chicago film community. I’m humbled and so proud of the team behind SAINT FRANCES and, of course, Alex and Kelly, the driving force behind the film for their well deserved nominations."
Choi concluded, "This is just the beginning, and I believe we’re seeing a shift in what independent films can be and do in the industry at large."