James Franco and 'Black Swan' lead indie Spirit Awards

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The Independent Culture

On the night before the Oscars, February 26, at a ceremony for independent films presented in Santa Monica, California, Black Swan swept off with the most awards among the nominees.

It took Best Picture, Best Director for Darren Aronofsky, Best Female Lead for Natalie Portman, and Best Cinematography for Matthew Libatique.

While at the Academy Awards the following day, Inception, The Social Network and The King's Speech won the majority of awards, the Film Independent Spirit Awards focused on films produced for less than $20 million.

Also winning at the Spirit Awards was James Franco as Best Male, The Kids Are All Right, Winter's Bone and Lena Dunham, writer of the extra-low budget mumblecore picture Tiny Furniture.

Winter's Bone which led the nominations going into the show, did not dominate the awards as expected, but received honors for both best supporting actors, John Hawkes and Dale Dickey.

James Franco earned Best Male Lead for 127 Hours. "I just went through film school at NYU and finished my thesis film," he is quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, "so independent film means a lot to me."

Exit Through the Gift Shop, another Oscar nominee, took home Best Documentary Feature honors. The film's subject, Frenchman Thierry Guetta, aka Mr. Brainwash, accepted the award on behalf of elusive director Bansky, stating the documentary is real. "If you have a dream, just make it possible," Guetta said.

Best First Feature honors went to Sony Pictures Classic's Get Low, from director Aaron Schneider, a cinematographer for Titanic.

The King's Speech from the UK won Best Foreign Film since the emphasis of the Spirit Awards is on American filmmakers.

Presenters at the 26th annual event included John Waters, Ben Stiller, Paul Rudd, Eva Mendes, and Diego Luna.

2011 Film Independent Spirit Award winners:

.Best Feature: Black Swan
.Best Director: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
.Best Screenplay: Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko - The Kids Are All Right
.Best First Feature: Get Low
.Best First Screenplay: Lena Dunham, Tiny Furniture
.Best Female Lead: Natalie Portman - Black Swan
.Best Male Lead: James Franco, 127 Hours
.Best Supporting Female: Dale Dickey - Winter's Bone
.Best Supporting Male: John Hawkes - Winter's Bone
.Best Cinematography: Matthew Libatique - Black Swan
.Best Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop by Banksy
.Best Foreign Film: The King's Speech (UK) by Tom Hooper