'Spotlight' leads Spirit Award winners; diversity takes center stage

Sat Feb 27, 2016 8:24pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (Reuters) - The journalism drama "Spotlight" led the winners at Saturday's Independent Spirit Awards with four accolades, including the night's top prize for best feature, at an event where diversity was front and center as black and transgender actors won key awards.

"Spotlight," about the Boson Globe's probe into Catholic church child abuse and which is the Oscar best picture front-runner, also won Spirit Awards for best director, best screenplay and best editing.

The Spirit Awards honor independent films made within a $20 million budget and often recognize films that go on to win Oscars the next day, such as dark comedy "Birdman" last year.

"It's rare to make a film that impacts the world as significantly as this one has," "Spotlight" producer Michael Sugar said on stage. "By honoring it, you're making more people aware of it, and as more people are aware of it, more can be spared from a life of abuse."

The Netflix film "Beasts of No Nation," about child soldiers in West Africa and starring a cast of black actors, took two awards, with teen newcomer Abraham Attah winning best actor and Britain's Idris Elba winning best supporting actor.

Attah, who beat out contenders including Jason Segel and Ben Mendelsohn, thanked everyone involved in the production of the film, from Elba and director Cary Fukunaga to the costume designers.

"Tangerine" star Mya Taylor was named best supporting actress, becoming the first transgender artist to win a Spirit Award.

"There is transgender talent, there's very beautiful transgender talent," Taylor told the audience. "You better get out there and put them in your next movie."   Continued...

(L-R) Producers Michael Sugar, director Tom McCarthy, Blye Pagon Faust, Nicole Rocklin and Steve Golin pose backstage with their award for Best Feature for the film "Spotlight" during the 31st Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California February 27, 2016.  REUTERS/Danny Moloshok