Two documentaries by first-time directors were among the films to score trophies at the annual Gotham Independent Film Awards in New York City last night (November 26).
Directed by print journalist-turned-director David France, How To Survive A Plague (pictured) bested Detropia, Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present, Room 237, and The Waiting Room to claim best documentary honors.
The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last January, primarily uses archival footage to tell the emotionally charged story of ACT UP and TAG, two AIDS activist coalitions that succeeded in having a lasting and life-saving impact on drug approval policy in the United States in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Meanwhile, the Jared Leto-directed doc Artifact picked up the Audience Award, which was determined by an online vote. The music doc marks the directorial debut of the actor/rock star and is proving to be an audience favorite. It also won the People’s Choice Documentary Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, where it made its world premiere.
Part personal film, part investigation into the decline of the music industry, the doc follows Leto and his band 30 Seconds to Mars as they attempt to fend off a $30 million breach of contract lawsuit filed by their record label EMI.
The Gotham Independent Film Awards are organized by Brooklyn-based indie film non-profit organization, the Independent Filmmaker Project.