NEW YORK "Winter's Bone," a stark tale of a young woman trying to keep her family together, won best feature film on Monday night at the Gotham Awards, a key event for independent movies.
The film revolves around a small group of people living in the rural mountains of southern Missouri who are involved in making a form of crystal methamphetamine, commonly called "crank." It also won best ensemble performance at the New York-based awards.
The best documentary trophy was given to "The Oath," which tells parallel stories about Abu Jandal, Osama bin Laden's former bodyguard and a free man who drives a taxi in Yemen, and Salim Hamdan, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner caught up in a legal battle to win his release.
The Gotham Awards are held annually by the Independent Feature Project, an nonprofit organization founded in 1979 that supports independent filmmaking. The awards give film fans an indication of the top independent movies of the year heading into Hollywood's film award season.
Ronald Bronstein was named breakthrough actor for his work in "Daddy Longlegs," playing a divorced father of two young boys whom he sees only a couple of weeks a year.
Kevin Asch won the breakthrough director category for his debut feature, "Holy Rollers," which starred Jesse Eisenberg as a young man from an Orthodox Jewish community who is lured into dealing drugs.
"Littlerock," was named best film without a distribution deal, while special tribute awards were given to actor Robert Duvall, actress Hilary Swank, "Black Swan" director Darren Aronofsky and producer and screenwriter James Schamus.
The documentary "Waiting for Superman," which examines problems in the U.S. school system, won the festival genius audience award, a new Gotham Awards category this year. To be eligible, a film must have won an audience award at a U.S. or Canadian film festival from November 2009 to October 2010.
Movies and performances singled out at the Gothams are often similar to those nominated for Independent Spirit Awards, another key set of honors for indie movies that is organized by Los Angeles-based group, Film Independent.
"Winter's Bone" was made for a budget of around $2 million and also won the top award at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.
At last year's Gotham Awards, "The Hurt Locker" won best feature and went on to win best film at the Oscars.
(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Bob Tourtellotte)