...on their nomination for the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award for an independent film with a budget under $500,000.
The first recipient of this award was The Blair Witch Project in 2000. It seems they've since lost their appreciation for genre films.
I didn't watch the awards, not really, but RJ saw enough that he got me to catch the Cassavetes Award section of the re-airing. The Signal was the only genre contender, an excellent movie made for only $50,000 and, to my mind, the obvious choice--it represents the very spirit of low budget, using creativity, crew enthusiasm, clever shortcuts and a packed, short schedule to produce something that plays big, feels smart, and looks fantastic. I'm not going to claim outright that there's a bias in the Spirit Awards against genre films, as I haven't even seen the other movies, but they didn't look that great. My only piece of evidence is one that couldn't have affected the decision-making process:
Presenter Sandra Oh expertly announced each nominee and delivered its synopsis with solemn respect and admiration. Except for The Signal, of course, whose fantastical, violent plot she described with patently sarcastic disdain. You got the sense that she wanted to spit into a napkin when they cut away to the trailer.
Grr. What did you ever do for zombies, Oh?
Watch this space for an interview with Justin Welborn, the star of The Signal and Dance of the Dead and all-around dramaturgical fireball.