Entertainment & Arts

Moonlight sweeps Gotham film awards in New York

Moonlight Image copyright Altitude Films
Image caption The film is garnering Oscars buzz and can be seen in the UK in February

Moonlight, a film about a boy growing up gay, black and poor in Miami, has cleaned up at the Gotham Independent film awards in New York.

The coming-of-age drama took best feature, best screenplay, best ensemble and the audience award.

The film stars Naomie Harris and newcomers Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders and Alex R Hibbert.

Moonlight has made $8.5m (£6.8m) so far, making it one of 2016's biggest indie hits.

The film is based on Tarell Alvin McCraney's play titled In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue and was produced by Brad Pitt's Plan B.

It was nominated for six Independent Spirit Awards last week.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The Moonlight cast celebrating their ensemble win

As he accepted one of the awards on Monday, director Barry Jenkins said: "When I made this film, I thought five people would watch it."

The film will be released in the UK in February although it was also shown during the London Film Festival in October.

On the same day as the awards, the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) released a statement, praising 2016 as the best year for diversity in both casting and storylines.

"The studios and major film distributors really gave it to us this year," said AAFCA co-founder and president Gil Robertson.

"By any measurement, it's been an exceptional year for blacks in film. From comedies to high-quality dramas and documentaries, 2016 will forever represent a bonanza year for black cinema, and all cinema really."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Huppert seemed surprised by her win as she collected her award

Other big winners at the Gotham Awards included Casey Affleck, who won best actor for his role in Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea, while Isabelle Huppert was named best actress for her performance in Paul Verhoeven's Elle, beating the likes of Natalie Portman for Jackie and Annette Bening for 20th Century Women.

French actress Huppert joked: "I feel so American tonight. I feel good. I feel really good."

In reference to the recent US election, Oliver Stone, who was given a tribute award along with Amy Adams, Ethan Hawke and producer Arnon Milchan, said: "You can be critical of your government. We've forgotten that."

The Gothams are not historically a reliable Academy Awards predictor.

But their last two big winners, Spotlight and Birdman, did go on to triumph at the Oscars.

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