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Black film critics announce 2011 awards

Gail Choice | 12/14/2011, 5 p.m.

The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) recently announced their 2011 awards.

The Black critics organization will also honor the special achievements of iconic actors Richard Roundtree and Hattie Winston, legendary filmmaker George Lucas and Sony Pictures Entertainment, during its third live awards ceremony on Jan. 8, at Light Space Studios, located at the historic Helm Bakery in Culver City, Calif.

The Best Picture honor went to "The Tree of Life" which stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. The story centers on a family with three boys in the 1950s. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence.

The critics selected "The Tree of Life" from their top 10 nominated films, which were "Drive," "Pariah," "Rampart," "Shame," "Moneyball," "The Descendants," "A Better Life," "My Week With Marilyn" and "The Help."

It should come as no surprise that "The Help" stars were among the winners. Best Actress: Viola Davis, and Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer.

In the category of Best Independent Film, the honors went to "Pariah," the story of a Brooklyn teenager who juggles conflicting identities and risks friendship, heartbreak, and family in a desperate search for sexual expression. And to sweeten the victory, Adepero Oduye won Breakout Performance for her starring role as Alike in "Pariah."

Best Foreign film was awarded to "Kinyarwanda." During the Rwandan genocide, when neighbors killed neighbors and friends betrayed friends, some crossed lines of hatred to protect each other.

Best Screen Play went to "I Will Follow" written and directed by Ava DuVernay. The film chronicles a day in the life of a grieving woman, and the 12 visitors who help her move forward.

It's a tender story of love, loss and finding ones self and stars Sali Richardson-Whitfield.

Best Documentary honors went to "The Black Power Mixtape." The film features footage shot by a group of Swedish journalists documenting the Black Power Movement in the United States from 1967 to 1975.

Here is a list of the other winners: Best Director: Steve McQueen, "Shame';" Best Actor: Woody Harrelson, "Rampart;" Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks, "Drive;" Best Song: "The Show" from "Moneyball."

Richard Roundtree, will receive the 2011 Legacy Award--he forever changed pop culture with his portrayal of private detective John Shaft in 1971. Roundtree helped to expand the way men of color are seen in contemporary cinema.

As the 2011 Horizon Award honoree, (Hattie) Winston's diverse body of work in film, theater and music has paved the way for African American actresses in all three genres.

Filmmaker George Lucas is the recipient of the 2011 Cinema Vanguard. His upcoming film "Red Tails," tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen.

AAFCA's first Special Achievement Award in the studio category will be presented to Sony Pictures Entertainment, an entertainment powerhouse that has been lighting up film screens around the world for nearly a century.

For more information about AAFCA or the 2011 AAFCA Awards, visit www.aafca.com.