May 25, 2022

Thuso Mbedu Bags Film Independent Spirit Award

“The Underground Railroad” star Thuso Mbedu walked away with the award for best female performance for a new scripted series at the 37th Film Independent Spirit Awards on Sunday.
The South African actress beat Anjana Vasan, Jana Schmieding, Jasmine Cephas Jones and Deborah Ayorinde to take home the coveted award.
During her acceptance speech, she thanked the show’s director Barry Jenkins along with the Amazon Prime Video streaming platform.
“Oh, Snap. They told me a number of times to prepare something, and I really didn’t.
“But first and foremost, thank you to form independent for this recognition. Barry Jenkins, thank you for absolutely everything. I really, really, really appreciate you, Francine Maisler, because I met you before I met Barry.
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for your guidance. Thank you to Amazon, to all the executive producers, to my team Beth, April, Laurie … My sister in South Africa.
“She would kill me if I didn’t say anything about her. I appreciate all the support. And every single person who was involved in ’The Underground Railroad’.
“There was no person who was too small in making the project what it was. And I really, really hope that you guys will take the time to watch it because it’s an absolute masterpiece. Thank you very much,” she said.
Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter”, a drama about the challenges and taboos surrounding motherhood, was named the year’s best indie film at the Spirit Awards.
Gyllenhaal – until now primarily known as an actress in films such as “The Dark Knight” and “Secretary” – also won prizes for best screenplay and best director, for her debut effort in both fields.
The Film Independent Spirit Awards honour low- and mid-budget movies, and the glitzy gala held at Santa Monica beach near Los Angeles could provide a much-needed boost for smaller films like Gyllenhaal’s ahead of this month’s Oscars.
“The Lost Daughter”, based on Elena Ferrante’s novel, is in the running for three Academy Awards including best actress for Olivia Colman, who plays a mother estranged from her children and harbouring guilt for her failings in raising them.
“My film is in an unusual language – it’s the language of the minds of women,” said Gyllenhaal, before dedicating her final prize for best feature to women in film.
While only films made for less than $22.5 million can compete for Spirit Awards, some of Hollywood’s biggest stars turned out for the event, and streaming giant Netflix emerged as the day’s big winner with six awards.
Beyond the honours for “The Lost Daughter”, Netflix earned two prizes for 1920s race drama “Passing”, including best supporting actress for Ruth Negga, and one for South Korean smash hit series “Squid Game”.
Stars Kristen Stewart and Javier Bardem were among several who used the event to speak out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Taylour Paige won best actress for her portrayal of a stripper who becomes embroiled with a prostitution scam in “Zola”, a black comedy based on a viral Twitter thread.
Simon Rex – a former MTV host who began his career by appearing in adult films – won best actor for Red Rocket“, about a washed-up porn star.
Rex said his career had been “in the toilet” before director Sean Baker approached him to make the tiny film, which sees him running naked down the streets of a small Texas town while wearing a prosthetic penis.
“Thank you so much for recognizing my fake penis,” joked Rex.
“This movie was made for $1 million with a 10-person crew with no permits,” he added.
“We were hiding from police. We were hiding from neighbours. I was running down the street butt-naked.
“If this doesn’t embody the spirit … of independent film, I don’t know what does.”
The Spirit Awards are typically held the day before the Oscars, but this year were held three weeks earlier, meaning voting for the season-concluding Academy Awards has not yet taken place.
Deaf actor Troy Kotsur cemented his Oscar frontrunner status by earning another best supporting actor prize for his role in “CODA”.
The film follows high school teen Ruby as she juggles her musical ambitions with her deaf family’s dependence on her to communicate with the “hearing” world.
Maggie Gyllenhaal took home three Spirit Awards for “The Lost Daughter.” Taylour Paige of “Zola” and Simon Rex of “Red Rocket” also took home trophies (March 7)
“Summer of Soul (… Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” – musician Questlove’s first movie about the huge “Black Woodstock” festival that took place in 1969 Harlem – won best documentary.
The film brings to light long-lost and never-before-seen footage of the star-studded concert, which was attended by 300 000 people and featured Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and Mahalia Jackson.
Questlove – real name Ahmir Thompson – said it “took a village of people to free this film from its 50-year sentence sitting inside of a basement”.
Each year, the Spirit Awards gives the prestigious Robert Altman Award to a film’s director, casting director and cast.
“Mass”, a harrowing drama in which a school mass shooting victim’s parents sit down with the mother and father of the attacker in a bid to find closure, received the pre-announced honour.

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