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Black Films Celebrated at The 2013 Gotham Awards

Steve Buscemi, Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan

The 2013 Gotham Independent Film Awards were held last night in New York City, officially kicking off Hollywood’s trophy season.

Some of the biggest names in independent film stepped out for the fourth annual event which was held at Cipriani Wall Street.

Some of the big winners included “Fruitvale Station,” which nabbed “Best Breakthrough Director” and “Best Breakthrough Actor “respectively for Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan.

During his acceptance speech, Jordan paid tribute to Oscar Grant, whom he portrayed in the film.   “Fruitvale Station” was based around the final days of Grant, an unarmed Black man murdered by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer on New Year’s Day in 2009.   The officer claimed he was reaching for his taser.

Jordan stated, “Oscar’s story needed to be told, so I thank the Gotham Awards for acknowledging his story.”

Jordan also revealed in an interview that due to the box-office success of films like “Fruitvale Station,” “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “12 Years a Slave,” he believes that studios will start to green light and back more African-American films.

 

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“I think it’s amazing and if they keep doing well, you might see more of those stories,” Jordan told The Hollywood Reporter. “You might see more Black filmmakers emerge and tell stories they want to tell, not just about African-American subjects, but they can be about anything. If the studios continue to take chances and risks and fund films by African-Americans, I think people will go see them. Hopefully it will get easier as time goes on.”

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The highlight of the evening came courtesy of director Lee Daniels (“The Butler”) who had a few choice words for the audience.  As Daniels was presenting the “Actor Tribute” award to Forest Whitaker, the crowd became too chatty which caused him to say, “Forest would love to hear you all talking throughout my speech so shut the f*ck up!”

As he presented the award, he also stated,“When I did research for The Butler I became very angry at white people. That shit ain’t funny because it’s not funny what happened. … The lesson I learned when I did The Butler was that Forest told me to keep my anger in, to not be a stereotypical angry Black man. Because if I were angry and I saw racism, then it became real. I had to step above it and pretend it wasn’t there. How do you tell your 17-year-old son that you can’t go into a 7-Eleven because you’re African-American and a dude? But Forest helped me through that. He taught me a lot.”

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Whitaker gave a very moving and emotional speech, saying, “I’m just trying to remove the veil in front of my eyes, to discover my place in the world….the truth continues to expand and I grow and grow and grow.”

 

Here is the full list of winners:

BEST FEATURE
“Inside Llewyn” Davis
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, directors; Scott Rudin, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, producers (CBS Films)

BEST ACTRESS
Brie Larson in “Short Term 12”
(Cinedigm)

BEST ACTOR
Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club”
(Focus Features)

BINGHAM RAY BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR
Ryan Coogler for “Fruitvale Station”
(The Weinstein Company)

BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR
Michael B. Jordan in “Fruitvale Station”
(The Weinstein Company)

BEST DOCUMENTARY
“The Act of Killing”
Joshua Oppenheimer, director; Signe Byrge, Joshua Oppenheimer, producers (Drafthouse Films)

 

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