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The film “Winter’s Bone,” which was shot in the Missouri Ozarks, is grabbing more attention and accolades. Recently nominated for multiple Spirit Awards for excellence in independent filmmaking, the movie, cast, and crew could earn one or more Oscar nods. KSMU’s Missy Shelton reports.
Shelton: The voice of Ozarks native and KSMU contributor Marideth Sisco creates a chilling start to the “Winter’s Bone” movie trailer. The film features other local musicians and actors, and is based on a novel by the same name by West Plains author Daniel Woodrell. I recently sat down with Mark Biggs to discuss the film’s increased visibility and how that could impact efforts to attract more film projects to the state. Mark is the acting head of the Media, Journalism, and Film Department at Missouri State University and former chair of the Missouri Film Commission.
Mark, give us an overview of the awards that the film “Winter’s Bone” has received.
Biggs: Pretty much everybody has head that it took the grand jury prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival, but it’s also won at the Seattle International Film Festival. It’s been nominated for a Satellite Award. It won an award at the National Board of Review here in the U.S. It has been nominated for a British Independent Film Award and it won a couple of awards at the Berlin International Film Festival, which is a very important European film festival. Then, most recently, it received seven nominations, the most of any, to the Spirit Awards, which is the award designated primarily for independent films with budgets under $20 million in the U.S. The films that have won those awards have done pretty well in the Oscars: “Precious,” “The Wrestler,” “Juno,” all were Oscar contenders or winners that came out of the Spirit Award nominations.Shelton: So, this bodes well for “Winter’s Bone” going into Oscar season.Biggs: I think it does. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see “Winter’s Bone” gain one or two Oscar nods, particularly in supporting best actor and possibly for best screenplay, maybe best directing. That one might be a stretch, but I think there are a couple of opportunities for this film to be nominated for an Oscar.Shelton: The best picture category has been expanded to 10 films, as of last year. Any chance for that?Biggs: I think that’s a good point. With 10 films in the running, I think this film stands a pretty good chance. The Academy has long respected Sundance. They clearly have respected the Spirit Awards and I would expect that tradition to follow. It’s not an outside chance that “Winter’s Bone” could earn, I don’t think it will win, but could earn a best picture nod, which would be extraordinarily wonderful for the film and the filmmakers, and to a certain extent to Southwest Missouri.Shelton: It seems that it would certainly bode for efforts to bring film productions to this state.Biggs: Yes. I mean when you look at what happened two years ago. “Up in the Air” was nominated for best picture and it was shot primarily in St Louis. That was shot in the fall and “Winter’s Bone” happened in the winter, but both on tax credits for 2008, I think. And those two films have done extraordinary things. You’d think that that would bode really well, but the situation is such that Missouri’s tax credit program really hampers a lot of major films saying, “That must be a good place to shoot. Let’s go there.” It is such a small program as it now stands, and it’s under constant attack at the legislative level that until the state decides this is a good thing to be doing with tax credits, it’s going to be hard to generate huge numbers of film shooting in Missouri.
Shelton: I’ve been speaking with Mark Biggs, past chair of the Missouri Film Commission about the success of the movie “Winter’s Bone” and what it means for the state’s efforts to attract other productions to Missouri.
Additional information: The Missouri Tax Credit Review Commission, which Governor Jay Nixon appointed last summer has recommended that lawmakers eliminate the film production tax credit during the upcoming session.