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Bay Area filmmaker Peter Nicks (Courtesy of International Film Circuit)

"The Waiting Room," Bay Area filmmaker Peter Nicks searing cinematic portrait on what life is really like in the chaotically busy emergency room of Oakland's Highland Hospital, is one of five features vying for best documentary in the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards.

Nominees were announced Nov. 28.

The insightful, well-made "Waiting Room," takes a fly-on-the-wall approach to follow patients, doctors and nurses as they navigate their way through an overburdened health-care institution.

The heralded feature from the Emmy-winning Nicks faces formidable challenge from contenders in its category. They are: "How to Survive a Plague," chronicling the influential actions of two activist AIDS organizations; "The Central Park Five," a compelling Ken Burns film about an infamous New York rape case and the racism and injustice that followed; "The Invisible War," a damning portrait of how the military has failed to deal with sexual assaults from within its ranks and "The Artist is Present," which profiles provocative artist Marina Abramovic.

Founded in 1984, the Independent Spirit Awards celebrates artist-driven, independent filmmaking. Last year, the black-and-white silent film "The Artist" took top honors. It went on to win best picture at the Oscar.


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Winners will be announced Jan. 12 in West Hollywood. The program will be televised Feb. 23 on IFC.

Here are nominees in some of the major categories

BEST FEATURE:

"Beasts of the Southern Wild"

"Bernie"

"Keep the Lights On"

"Moonrise Kingdom"

"Silver Linings Playbook"

BEST DIRECTOR

Wes Anderson -- "Moonrise Kingdom"

Julia Loktev -- "The Loneliest Planet"

David O. Russell -- "Siver Linings Playbook"

Ira Sachs -- "Keep the Lights On"

Benh Zeitlin -- "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

BEST SCREENPLAY

Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola -- "Moonrise Kingdom"

Zoe Kazan --"Ruby Sparks"

Martin McDonagh -- "Seven Psychopaths"

David O. Russell -- "Silver Linings Playbook"

Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias -- "Keep the Lights On"

BEST FIRST FEATURE

"Fill the Void"

"Gimme the Loot"

"Safety Not Guaranteed"

"Sound of My Voice"

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower"

BEST FEMALE LEAD

Linda Cardellini -- "Return"

Emayatzy Corinealdi -- "Middle of Nowhere"

Jennifer Lawrence -- "Silver Linings Playbook"

Quvenzhané Wallis -- "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Mary Elizabeth Winstead -- "Smashed"

BEST MALE LEAD

Jack Black -- "Bernie"

Bradley Cooper -- "Silver Linings Playbook"

John Hawkes -- "The Sessions"

Thure Lindhardt -- "Keep the Lights On"

Matthew McConaughey -- "Killer Joe"

Wendell Pierce-- "Four"

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

Rosemarie DeWitt -- "Your Sister's Sister"

Ann Dowd -- "Compliance"

Helen Hunt -- "The Sessions"

Brit Marling -- "Sound of My Voice"

Lorraine Toussaint -- "Middle of Nowhere"

BEST SUPPORTING MALE

Matthew McConaughey -- "Magic Mike"

David Oyelowo -- "Middle of Nowhere"

Michael Pena -- "End of Watch"

Sam Rockwell -- "Seven Psychopaths"

Bruce Willis -- "Moonrise Kingdom"

For other nominees, visit http://www.spiritawards.com.