Tale of equine long shot previously won audience award at Sundance
A dark horse candidate emerged to take the top documentary prize at the British Independent Film Awards -- Dark Horse, directed by Louise Osmond.
The film about a "working class" racehorse who became an unlikely champion beat Asif Kapadia's Amy for the BIFA honor.
Amy is considered a strong contender for the Academy Awards, having already won Best Documentary honors from the National Board of Review. Amy made the Academy's shortlist of top 15 documentaries; Dark Horse was left off the Oscar shortlist.
However, Dark Horse has proven itself a crowd favorite in other competitions. It won the Audience Award in the World Cinema Documentary category at Sundance last January.
Another horse racing-related film, Palio, was among the other nominees for Best Documentary at the British Independent Film Awards. The other two contenders were How to Change the World and A Syrian Love Story.
Amy can console itself with having achieved something rare for a documentary: it was nominated for Best British Independent Film, a category usually reserved for narrative films. The other contenders in that category were 45 Years, Ex Machina, The Lobster, and Macbeth. The prize went to Ex Machina.
Another major consolation: Amy was voted Best Documentary on Sunday by theLos Angeles Film Critics Association.
The BIFA press release follows, with the full list of winners:
Winners announced for the 2015 Moët British Independent Film Awards
Ex Machina wins four, including Best British Independent Film
Saoirse Ronan, Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman and Brendan Gleeson all win
Room named Best International Independent Film
London, Sunday 6 December:
Ex Machina was the big winner at the Moët British Independent Film Awards this evening.
The film won four awards: Best British Independent Film, Best Director and Best Screenplayfor Alex Garland and Outstanding Achievement in Craft for its Visual Effects, by Andrew Whitehurst.
The film will be screened in 74 cinemas across the country on Sunday 13 December as part of a landmark BIFA screening series supported by the BFI. Tickets can be booked at discover.bifa.film
Performance awards were spread across the board: Saoirse Ronan picked up Best Actress for Brooklyn and Tom Hardy won Best Actor for his dual role as Ronnie and Reggie Kray in Legend.
Olivia Colman won her third BIFA for her Best Supporting Actress performance in The Lobster.
Brendan Gleeson made it two years in a row, winning Best Supporting Actor for Suffragette this year after taking away Best Actor for Calvary last year.
Colin Farrell presented the Most Promising Newcomer award to Abigail Hardingham for her breakthrough performance in Nina Forever.
The Special Jury Prize was presented to Chris Collins, the BFI executive who died late last year. Director of the BFI Lottery Film Fund Ben Roberts said, “This is a really wonderful tribute to Chris. He is greatly missed, but his contribution to so many films and filmmakers continues to burn brightly. A heartfelt thanks to the BIFA jury.”
In the closely-fought Best Documentary category, Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance won out over Amy, How to Change the World, Palio and A Syrian Love Story.
Room was named Best International Independent Film and Jacob Tremblay, the young star of the film, collected the award with the team.
The team behind Kajaki: The True Story took home Producer of the Year and Stephen Fingleton was named Best Debut Director for The Survivalist. The award is presented in honour of director Douglas Hickox.
Edmond won Best Short and The Discovery Award went to Orion: The Man Who Would Be King.
The 18th BIFA ceremony, which was hosted by Richard Ayoade, was held at Old Billingsgate in London and live streamed on www.bifa.film. Highlights are available on that website.
As previously announced, the Variety Award, which recognises a director, actor, writer or producer who has made a global impact and helped to focus the international spotlight on the UK, was presented to Kate Winslet. The Richard Harris Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Actor to British Film was presented to Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.