Lance Hammer's Ballast is nominated for best feature, director, breakthrough actor and ensemble performance at IFP awards, 22 films nominated in six categories.

Lance Hammer's Ballast leads the pack in the 18th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards with four nominations for best feature, director, breakthrough actor and ensemble performance.

Six titles earned two nominations apiece. They were: Afterschool, Frozen River, Rachel Getting Married, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Visitor and Synecdoche, New York. The awards will take place in New York on December 2.

A total of 22 films received nominations from IFP, the first body to issue nominations in the film awards season.

The six categories are: best feature, documentary, breakthrough director, breakthrough actor, ensemble performance and Best Film Not Playing At A Theatre Near You.

For the first time the winner of the Best Film Not Playing At A Theatre Near You will receive a cash award of $15,000. The award is provided by the non-profit group Artists Public Domain and brokerage firm D R Reiff & Associates.

IFP executive director Michelle Byrd noted that nearly half of the nominees were directorial debuts and said 2008 had been an 'extremely strong year for an immensely diverse group of film-makers'.

The 18th Annual Gotham Independent Film Award nominees are:

Best Feature:

Ballast; Frozen River; Synecdoche, New York; The Visitor; and The Wrestler.

Best Documentary:

Chris & Don: A Love Story; Encounters At The End Of The World; Man On Wire; Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired; Trouble The Water.

Best Ensemble Performance:

  • Ballast (Micheal J Smith Sr., JimMyron Ross, Tarra Riggs, Johnny McPhail);
  • Rachel Getting Married (Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin, Tunde Adebimpe, Mather Zickel, Anna Deavere Smith, Anisa George, Debra Winger);
  • Synecdoche, New York (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Samantha Morton, Michelle Williams, Catherine Keener, Emily Watson, Dianne Wiest, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hope Davis, Tom Noonan);
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz); and
  • The Visitor (Richard Jenkins, Hiam Abbass, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira).

Breakthrough Director:

  • Afterschool (Antonio Campos);
  • A Good Day To Be Black & Sexy (Dennis Dortch);
  • Ballast (Lance Hammer);
  • Medicine For Melancholy (Barry Jenkins); and
  • Sleep Dealer ( Alex Rivera).

Breakthrough Actor:

  • Pedro Castaneda (August Evening);
  • Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married);
  • Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona);
  • Melissa Leo (Frozen River);
  • Alejandro Polanco (Chop Shop);and
  • Micheal J Smith Sr (Ballast).

Best Film Not Playing At A Theatre Near You:

Afterschool; Meadowlark; The New Year Parade; Sita Sings The Blues; Wellness.