IFC Films led the Film Independent 2007 Spirit Award nominations with nine nods including three for American Gun.

Fox Searchlight earned seven nominations, five of them for Little Miss Sunshine including feature, director for Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, and supporting male nods for Alan Arkin and Paul Dano.

First Look Studios made an emphatic statement about its revitalised ambitions, earning six nods with three apiece going to A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints and The Dead Girl.

THINKFilm's Half Nelson took five nominations including feature, director for Ryan Fleck, and actor for Ryan Gosling.

Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth is a Spanish-language feature but found itself in play for feature alongside American Gun, The Dead Girl, Half Nelson, and Little Miss Sunshine.

Foreign language nominees are Romania's 12:08 East Of Bucharest, The Blossoming Of Maximo Oliveros Auraeus Solito from The Philippines, Argentina's Chronicle Of An Escape, French-Algerian-Moroccan-Belgian co-production Days Of Glory, and Germany's The Lives Of Others.

UK films The Queen, Venus, Notes On A Scandal and The History Boys all failed to make the cut.
The spirit of Robert Altman lingered over the event as the late director was nominated in the director category for A Prairie Home Companion, alongside Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris for Little Miss Sunshine, Ryan Fleck for Half Nelson, Karen Moncrieff for The Dead Girl, and Steven Soderbergh for Bubble.

Gosling will contest male lead with Aaron Eckhart for Thank You For Smoking, Ed Norton for The Painted Veil, Ahmad Razvi for Man Push Cart, and Forrest Whitaker for American Gun.

Toby Jones did not receive a nomination for playing Truman Capote in Infamous, however Daniel Craig is among supporting actor nominees for playing Perry Smith in the film, and goes head-to-head with Arkin and Dano for Little Miss Sunshine, Raymond J Barry for Steel City, and Channing Tatum for A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints.

The female lead category comprises Shareeka Epps for Half Nelson with Catherine O'Hara for For Your Consideration, Elizabeth Reaser for Sweetland, Michelle Williams for Land Of Plenty, and Robin Wright Penn for Sorry, Haters. Maggie Gyllenhaal was a notable exception for her role in Sherrybaby.

Neil Berger earned a screenplay nod for The Illusionist and will contest the category with Nicole Holofcener for Friends With Money, Ron Nyswaner for The Painted Veil, Jason Reitman for Thank You For Smoking, and Jeff Stanzler for Sorry, Haters.

Nominees for the John Cassavetes Award for best feature made for under $500,000 are Chalk, Four Eyed Monsters, Old Joy, Quinceanera and Twelve And Holding.

Documentary nominees are A Lion In The House, My Country, My Country, The Road To Guantanamo, The Trials Of Darryl Hunt, and You're Gonna Miss Me.

Nominees for the 13th annual IFC/Acura Someone to Watch Award for 'a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received appropriate recognition' are So Yong Kim for In Between Days, Julia Loktev for Day Night Day Night, and Richard Wong for Colma: The Musical. The award includes a $50,000 unrestricted grant funded by IFC and Acura.

Nominees for the 11th annual Axium Truer Than Fiction Award for 'an emerging director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant attention' are Adele Horn for The Tailenders, Eric Daniel Metzgar for The Chances Of The World Changing, and AJ Schnack for Kurt Cobain About A Son. The award includes a $50,000 unrestricted grant funded by Axium International.

The 10th annual Axium Producers Award will be contested by Julie Lynn for Nine Lives and 10 Items Or Less, Alex Orlovsky and Jamie Patricof for Half Nelson and Point & Shoot and Howard Gertler and Tim Perell for Shortbus and Pizza. The award includes a $50,000 unrestricted grant, funded by Axium International.

A Special Distinction Award will go to David Lynch and Laura Dern for their collaborative work. All awards will be presented at the Spirit Awards ceremony on Feb 24, 2007.

'We are proud to spotlight this year's eclectic mix of filmmakers and artists who are unafraid to take risks,' Film Independent executive director Dawn Hudson said. 'The foundation of independent film has always been to push the envelope both in subject matter and film-making, and this year is no exception.'

Hudson announced the inaugural Spirit Awards Short Film Contest in partnership with IFC Media Lab, in which entrants are invited to submit a film up to 90 seconds long on the theme 'What does independence mean to you'' Entrants can upload their films to ifc.com/medialab and the winning film will air live during the awards ceremony.