Independent film has become a growing force in mainstream cinema. There used to be a large chasm between indies and mainstream, where only the most lucky could jump the divide into financial success. Now, it's a lot more common. Indie cinema has gained mainstream cred, to the point where they're not a stepping-stone for no-name talent, but a vehicle for well-known actors to re-invigorate their careers. It is, therefore, not surprising that big business has begun to find its way into the indie world, and as the divide lessens, some are not happy with it.

The IFP is an organization created in 1979 that exists to promote American, independent film production. They're also the group that brings us the Gotham Awards. At its inception, the awards were for independent productions with "a little local flavor." But that was sixteen years ago. Today, it's more like the Oscars with an amalgam of cheap, independent features and large, pricey productions. The mission statement seems to be lost, as former IFP member Tim Hope rues: "I don't know what the Gotham Awards mean anymore."

When the awards are held tonight, the little guys will be up against big competition. Low budget dramas like Half Nelson are set to compete against the $40 million Marie Antoinette and $90 million The Departed for best picture. Michelle Byrd, executive director of IFP, is said to want no limits on what can qualify, which is strange coming from someone who heads an organization created to help independent film. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top tonight. While everyone is wondering if big budget will beat out small budget, I'm anxious to see who will take the ensemble category, which has the likes of For Your Consideration and A Prairie Home Companion competing against the very Gotham and very naked Shortbus.