If you wanted your film to be nominated for an Independent Spirit Award this year, it helped to have ''America'' or ''American'' in the title. ''In America,'' Jim Sheridan's autobiographical drama about an Irish immigrant family living in New York's Hell's Kitchen, led the nominees with six citations, including Best Feature, Best Director, and Best Female Lead (Samantha Morton). Earning five nominations was ''American Splendor,'' the biopic of comic-book author Harvey Pekar, also up for Best Feature and Director, as well as Best Male Lead (Paul Giamatti). Also earning five nods (including Best Feature) was ''Raising Victor Vargas,'' a teen romance cast with non-professional actors, two of whom were nominated for Best Debut Performance.
Earning four citations each were two critical favorites, ''Lost in Translation'' and ''Shattered Glass.'' Up for three prizes each are ''Pieces of April,'' ''The Station Agent,'' and ''Thirteen,'' as well as the soon-to-be-released ''House of Sand and Fog'' and ''Monster.''
The Independent Spirit Awards aim to recognize the best achievements in independent filmmaking, a category that's increasingly hard to define. Most of the nominations went to the art-film divisions of the major studios, led by 20th Century Fox's Fox Searchlight (nine). Among big-studio releases, DreamWorks' ''Sand and Fog'' earned three nominations, and Warner Bros.' ''A Mighty Wind'' earned one. On the other hand, the nominating committee deemed ''21 Grams,'' from Universal's Focus division, too high-budget to be eligible, though the members did vote to give the film a Special Distinction Award.
As per tradition, the awards ceremony will be held in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica the day before the Oscars (in this case, Feb. 28) and will be broadcast live on IFC and later that evening on Bravo. No word yet on whether perennial host John Waters will return. A partial list of nominees is below:
''Lost in Translation''
''Raising Victor Vargas''
Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, ''American Splendor''
Sofia Coppola, ''Lost in Translation''
Jim Sheridan, ''In America''
Peter Sollett, ''Raising Victor Vargas''
Gus Van Sant, ''Elephant''
''American Splendor,'' Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini
''Lost in Translation,'' Sofia Coppola
''A Mighty Wind,'' Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, and the cast
''Pieces of Apri,'' Peter Hedges
''Shattered Glass,'' Billy Ray
Best Female Lead
Agnes Bruckner, ''Blue Car''
Zooey Deschanel, ''All the Real Girls''
Samantha Morton, ''In America''
Elisabeth Moss, ''Virgin''
Charlize Theron, ''Monster''
Best Male Lead
Peter Dinklage, ''The Station Agent''
Paul Giamatti, ''American Splendor''
Ben Kingsley, ''House of Sand and Fog''
Bill Murray, ''Lost in Translation''
Lee Pace, ''Soldier's Girl''
Best Supporting Female
Shohreh Aghdashloo, ''House of Sand and Fog''
Sarah Bolger, ''In America''
Patricia Clarkson, ''Pieces of April''
Hope Davis, ''The Secret Lives of Dentists''
Frances McDormand, ''Laurel Canyon''
Best Supporting Male
Judah Friedlander, ''American Splendor''
Troy Garity, ''Soldier's Girl''
Djimon Hounsou, ''In America''
Alessandro Nivola, ''Laurel Canyon''
Peter Sarsgaard, ''Shattered Glass''
Best Debut Performance
Anna Kendrick, ''Camp''
Judy Marte, ''Raising Victor Vargas''
Victor Rasuk, ''Raising Victor Vargas''
Nikki Reed, ''Thirteen''
Janice Richardson, ''Anne B. Real''
Best Foreign Film
''City of God'' (Brazil), Fernando Meirelles
''Lilya 4-Ever'' (Denmark), Lukas Moodysson
''The Magdalene Sisters'' (England/Ireland), Peter Mullan
''The Triplets of Belleville'' (France), Sylvian Chomet
''Whale Rider'' (New Zealand), Niki Caro
''The Fog of War,'' Errol Morris
''Mayor of the Sunset Strip,'' George Hickenlooper
''My Architect,'' Nathaniel Kahn
''OT: our town,'' Scott Hamilton Kennedy
''Power Trip,'' Paul Devlin