’12 Years a Slave,’ ‘Fruitvale Station’ To Compete With Music Docs for Gotham Audience Award

Unusual list of finalists pits two films about the African-American experience against documentaries on music and high school

“12 Years a Slave” and “Fruitvale Station” are among the final five films in the running for the Audience Award at the 2013 Gotham Independent Film Awards, the Independent Filmmaker Project announced on Thursday.

In an unusual shortlist made up of two hard-hitting films about the African-American experience, two music documentaries and a doc about a Newark high school, Steve McQueen’s “12 Years” and Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale” are by far the highest-profile films.

Also read: TheWrap Screening Series: ‘Fruitvale’ Director Ryan Coogler Says Black Films Have ‘Plenty of Room to Go’ (Video)

The other shortlisted films, which were narrowed down from the 36 eligible films that won audience awards at 50 U.S. or Canadian film festivals, were Samantha Buck’s “Best Kept Secret,” Ramona S. Diaz’s “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey” and Tadashi Makamura’s “Jake Shimabukro: Life on Four Strings.”

The five finalists were selected by audience votes between Oct. 24 and Nov. 5, and many films conducted online campaigns to get their fans to flood the ballot box.

Final voting will begin on Thursday and run through Nov. 24. The winner will be revealed at the Gotham Awards on Dec. 2.

The finalists:

“12 Years a Slave”
Steve McQueen, director; Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Bill Pohlad, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Anthony Katagas, producers
(Fox Searchlight Pictures)

“Fruitvale Station”
Ryan Coogler, director; Nina Young Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker, producers
(The Weinstein Company)

“Best Kept Secret”
Samantha Buck, director; Danielle DiGiacomo, producer
(Argot Pictures and P.O.V./American Documentary)

“Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey”
Ramona S. Diaz, director; Capella Fahoome Brogden, Ramona S. Diaz, producers

“Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings”
Tadashi Nakamura, director; Donald Young, producer
(Center for Asian American Media and PBS