British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed paid tribute to his “inspiration” Irrfan Khan in his acceptance speech upon winning the Best Actor award at the 30th Gotham Awards.
The Gotham Awards this year was a “virtual-hybrid” event held in New York on Monday night.
Riz Ahmed, 38, won the award for director Darius Marder’s acclaimed drama Sound of Metal, which features him as a drummer who begins to lose his hearing.
During his virtual acceptance speech, the actor said 2020 was the year of a “lot of loss” and quoted Khan’s words, which he “always thinks of.”
“I want to mention Irrfan Khan, another great, tremendous actor who we lost last year. Who’s words ring in my ears right now, which I always think of: ‘Surrender to the dance of uncertainty’,” Ahmed said.
Irrfan Khan, who straddled both Indian and international cinema with equal elan, died in April 2020, following a two-year-long battle with a rare form of cancer.
Riz Ahmed, who won a lead acting Emmy Award for HBO limited series The Night Of, had previously named Irrfan, along with late American actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, as his inspirations in life.
In his speech, Ahmed also mentioned Chadwick Boseman, who was nominated for his swansong Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
He said the Black Panther star led a life of great example and dignity.
Boseman, 43, died in August 2020, following a four-year-long private battle with colon cancer.
“It has been a crazy year for all of us. There’s been a lot of loss, lot of time to reflect. The one thing we learnt was that we don’t get anywhere on our own. Our well being is dependent on each other. I feel the same way as an actor. Creativity isn’t a solo sport.
“In that spirit I want to thank all the other nominees for their work and inspiration, in particular Chadwick Boseman. I found his work to be truly inspiring, the way he conducted himself, with such dignity and humanity, to be an example for all of us,” he added.
During the awards, Chadwick Boseman was posthumously honoured with the Gotham Awards’ Film Tribute prize.
The actor’s widow Taylor Simone Ledward gave an emotional speech as she opened up about his death for the first time.
“He was the most honest person I ever met because he didn’t just stop at speaking the truth: he actively searched for it in himself and those around him and in the moment. The truth can be a very easy thing for the self to avoid, but if one does not live in truth, then it’s impossible to live in line with the divine purpose for your life. And so it became how he lived his life, day in and out. Imperfect and determined,” Ledward said.
She said Boseman was a gifted actor as he used to live “many lives within his concentrated one.”
“He developed his understanding of what it meant to be the none, the one, and the all. A vessel to be poured into and out of,’ he said. He harnessed the power of letting go and letting God’s love shine through… (He) was not merely telling a story or reading lines on a page, but modelling a path to true fulfilment,” Ledward added.
Filmmaker Chloe Zhao’s drama Nomadland, a critical favourite, bagged two honours in best feature and the audience award categories at the ceremony.
Nicole Beharie, 36, was adjudged as the best actress for her work in Channing Godfrey Peoples’ drama Miss Juneteenth.
HBO’s superhero show Watchmen and drama I May Destroy You bagged the Breakthrough Series – Long Format and Short Format award, respectively.
Spanish drama Identifying Features, directed by Fernanda Valadez, won the best international feature honour.
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