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26th Annual IFP Gotham Awards Winners Announced

by Erik Luers on November 29, 2016

New York, NY (Monday, November 28, 2016) – The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) tonight announced the winners of the 26th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards at its awards ceremony hosted by Keegan-Michael Key and held at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

Winning the Best Feature, Best Screenplay, Gotham Audience Award, and a Special Jury Award for Ensemble Performance was Moonlight, director Barry Jenkins’ stunning triptych-structured story of the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world. Moonlight is the first film in the history of the Gotham Awards to win four awards and the first to win both Best Feature and the Audience Award.

The award for Best Documentary went to O.J.: Made in America, Ezra Edelman’s epic saga of race, celebrity, media, violence, and the criminal justice system. The nearly eight-hour documentary premiered at Sundance and had a theatrical run in addition to its ESPN airing in June.

Winning the award for Best Actor was Casey Affleck for his affecting performance as a taciturn, grief-stricken man dragged back toward life when custody of his teenage nephew is forced upon him in Manchester by the Sea. Isabelle Huppert was voted Best Actress for Elle, in which she plays a businesswoman whose seemingly aloof reaction to a home invasion sexual attack serves as the complex and unpredictable driver for Paul Verhoeven’s scintillating thriller/bourgeois comedy.

Winning the Breakthrough Actor award was Anya Taylor-Joy, for her performance in The Witch as Thomasin, the teenage daughter of a Puritan family in 17th century New England, who becomes central to the supernatural disruption of their lives.

Trey Edward Shults won the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director award, given to the director of a first feature, for Krisha, his acclaimed low-budget drama, shot in his parents’ house with predominantly non-actors and family members, in which the recovering alcoholic and black sheep title character returns after 10 years to a family Thanksgiving and an inevitable emotional explosion.

For the second year, the Gotham Awards presented two Breakthrough Series awards for achievement in episodic content in television and digital media for series in their debut seasons. The Breakthrough Series– Long Form award winner was Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, created by Aline Brosh McKenna and Rachel Bloom. The uniquely inventive CW romantic-comedy-with-musical-numbers series follows central character Rebecca Bunch after she abandons her corporate law firm job to seek love in California.

The Breakthrough Series– Short Form award went to Her Story, created by Jen Richards and Laura Zak, which centers around two trans women in Los Angeles who have given up on love, when suddenly chance encounters give them hope. The production features predominantly LGBTQ women, on and off-screen.

Also presented by IFP for the sixth year at the ceremony was the deep euphoria Calvin Klein Spotlight on Women Filmmakers ‘Live the Dream’ grant, a $25,000 cash award for an alumna of IFP’s Independent Filmmaker & Screen Forward Labs. This grant aims to further the careers of emerging women directors by supporting the completion, distribution and audience engagement strategies of their first feature film or episodic series. The winner of the 2016 grant was Roxy Toporowych, director of Julia Blue, a forthcoming feature centering on the relationship between a university student and a traumatized soldier in war-torn Ukraine.

As previously announced, in addition to the competitive awards presented, a Special Jury Award was presented by Gael Garcia Bernal to nine actors from the cast of Moonlight for their ensemble work in the film, “in which actors at all levels of experience give outstanding performances that speak eloquently to one another both within and across each chapter of the story.”  Career Tributes were also given during the ceremony to actors Amy Adams (presented by Cate Blanchett) and Ethan Hawke (presented by Winona Ryder), director Oliver Stone (presented by JC Chandor) and producer Arnon Milchan (presented by Danny DeVito).

A Gotham Appreciation Award, a special recognition to honor those who have been an integral part of making the independent film scene what it is today, was given to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) in celebration of the Agency’s fifty-year legacy of supporting storytelling in New York City. Commissioner Julie Menin, of MOME, and Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen accepted the Appreciation Award and announced honors for two outstanding members of NYC’s creative community with “Made in NY” awards at the ceremony: Aziz Ansari, star, writer and director Master of None, a Netflix original comedy series loosely based on his own life experiences in New York; and Judith Light, the award-winning actress, producer, and LGBT activist.

The Gotham Award ceremony was streamed on Facebook Live on FB/IFPFilm.


The 26th Annual Gotham Award recipients are:


For Best Feature, presented by Natalie Portman



Directed by Barry Jenkins

Produced by Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner

Released by A24


The Best Feature jury included Blythe Danner, Grant Heslov, Oscar Isaac, Doug Liman, and Andrij Parekh.


For Best Documentary, presented by Annette Bening and Greta Gerwig


O.J.: Made in America

Directed by Ezra Edelman

Produced by Caroline Waterlow, Ezra Edelman, Tamara Rosenberg, Nina Krstic, Deirdre Fenton, Libby Geist, Erin Leyden, and Connor Schell

Released by ESPN Films


The Best Documentary jury included Liz Garbus, Joshua Oppenheimer, Yoruba Richen, Bernardo Ruiz, and Tom Yellin.


For the IFP Gotham Audience Award, presented by Damian Lewis



Directed by Barry Jenkins

Produced by Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner

Released by A24


The Audience Award was voted for on-line by IFP members.


For Best Actor, presented by Nick Kroll


Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea

Released by Amazon Studios


The Best Actor jury included Neil Burger, Jonah Hill, Benjamin Kasulke, Lisa Kudrow, and Gina Prince-Bythewood.


For Best Actress, presented by Neve Campbell and David Oyelowo

(presenting sponsor deep euphoria Calvin Klein)


Isabelle Huppert in Elle

Released by Sony Pictures Classics


The Best Actress jury included Rene Bastian, Neve Campbell, Katherine Dieckmann, Tim Orr, and Fisher Stevens.


For Best Screenplay, presented by Katie Holmes


Barry Jenkins (Screenplay) and Tarell Alvin McCraney (Story) for Moonlight

Released by A24


The Best Screenplay jury included Chiwetel Ejiofor, Grace Gummer, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Daniel Minahan, and Jeremy Saulnier.


For Breakthrough Actor, presented by Kate Beckinsale


Anya Taylor-Joy in The Witch

Released by A24


The Breakthrough Actor jury included Eric Bogosian, Ross Katz, Sophia Lin, Gabourey Sidibe, and Dylan Tichenor.


For Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director, presented by Emily Mortimer


Trey Edward Shults for Krisha

Released by A24


The Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director jury included Sean Baker, Emily Mortimer, Rachel Morrison, William Packer, and Alexander Skarsgård.


For Breakthrough Series – Long Form, presented by Lela Loren and Ben McKenzie


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Created by Rachel Bloom & Aline Brosh McKenna

Executive Produced by Marc Webb, Rachel Bloom, Aline Brosh McKenna, and Erin Ehrlich

The CW


The Breakthrough Series – Long Form jury included Sam Esmail, Ellen Kuras, Lela Loren, Patton Oswalt, and Dee Rees.


For Breakthrough Series – Short Form, presented by Leslie Mann


Her Story

Created by Jen Richards and Laura Zak

Produced by Kate Fisher; Executive Produced by Eve Ensler


The Breakthrough Series-Short Form jury included Effie Brown, John David Coles, Rob Corddry, Gaby Hoffmann, and Ingrid Jungerman.


Special Jury Award for Ensemble Performance, presented by Gael Garcia Bernal



Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monáe, Jaden Piner, Trevante Rhodes, and Ashton Sanders

Released by A24


For the deep euphoria Calvin Klein Spotlight on Women Filmmakers ‘Live the Dream’ Grant, presented by Margot Robbie


Roxy Toporowych

Julia Blue


The deep euphoria Calvin Klein Spotlight on Women Filmmakers’ ‘Live the Dream’ grant jury included Sarah-Violet Bliss, Carly Hugo, Susan A. Stover, and Noël Wells


For images and clips from the ceremony:







The Premier Sponsor of the 2016 IFP Gotham Awards is The New York Times, the Platinum Sponsors are deep euphoria Calvin Klein and Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Office of Film, Music and Entertainment, the Official Water Sponsor is FIJI Water and the Official Wine Sponsor is Landmark Vineyards.


About IFP

The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) champions the future of storytelling by connecting artists with essential resources at all stages of development and distribution. The organization fosters a vibrant and sustainable independent storytelling community through its year-round programs, which include Independent Film Week, Filmmaker Magazine, the Gotham Independent Film Awards and the Made in NY Media Center by IFP, a tech and media incubator space developed with the New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.


IFP represents a growing network of storytellers around the world, and plays a key role in developing 350 new feature and documentary works each year. During its 37-year history, IFP has supported over 10,000+ projects and offered resources to more than 20,000+ filmmakers, including Debra Granik, Miranda July, Michael Moore, Dee Rees, and Benh Zeitlin. More info at



About the IFP Gotham Awards 

The IFP Gotham Awards, selected by distinguished juries and presented in New York City, the home of independent film, are the first honors of the film awards season. This public showcase honors the filmmaking community, expands the audience for independent films, and supports the work that IFP does behind the scenes throughout the year to bring such films to fruition.


For more information:



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