Vanessa Juarez
March 02, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Film Independent’s Spirit Awards, explained Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro at the Feb. 24 ceremony, are ”the storm before the storm.” But it was all Little Miss Sunshine at the affair, held the day prior to the Academy Awards in a massive tent by the Santa Monica beach.

F-Bombs Away Designer flip-flops aside, the most telling proof that this wasn’t the Oscars came from host Sarah Silverman, who said the F-word at least 10 times in her opening monologue while getting busy with an imaginary wheel of cheese. (Don’t ask.)

Mistaken Identity Shareeka Epps scored a surprise Best Female Lead victory for her debut in Half Nelson, and the 17-year-old didn’t even mind that presenter Felicity Huffman called her ”Shakira” twice. ”I don’t think she realized she got the name wrong,” laughed Epps, who also won a lifetime Netflix membership at the gift lounge. All-night rom-com marathon at Shareeka’s house, everybody!

Let Freebies Ring Wait, gift lounge? Yep, Minnie Driver, Sharon Stone, and Matt Dillon feted indie film by…grabbing free Palm Treo 680s, chocolate Altoids, and Ugg boots. ”I think it’s really odd,” said Rosario Dawson, whose opinion didn’t stop her from snagging a pair of Juicy Couture sunglasses from the backstage swag suite. ”It’s around people’s birthdays, so I’m like, ‘That might be a gift for so-and-so.”’ Alan Arkin was more frank about his very first freebie experience: ”I want more stuff!” And he promptly got it.

Good Day Sunshine Arkin’s Best Supporting Male award was the best free loot he bagged all afternoon — and he pinched it from fellow nominee/costar Paul Dano, who joked that Arkin ”told me I have no chance.” Sunshine also took home Best Picture, which led one of the film’s producers, David T. Friendly, to marvel: ”Our goal was to sell the movie at Sundance. We thought that was spiking the ball in the end zone.”

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