Casey Affleck blasts 'abhorrent' Trump at Spirit Awards show

Casey Affleck has criticised US president Donald Trump’s “abhorrent” policies as he was named best actor at the 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards on the eve of the Oscars.

The American star, who is a favourite to win best actor at the Academy Awards on Sunday, was honoured for his performance as a depressed caretaker in Manchester By The Sea.

On stage, he said: “The policies of this administration are abhorrent and they will not last, they won’t. They are really un-American.

“I know this feels preachy and I’m preaching to the choir here.”

Backstage, Casey also criticised US education secretary Betsy DeVos as he called for more programmes in schools to boost diversity in the arts.

He said: “Now it seems like a lot of those programmes have disappeared and are probably going to be all gone soon if the secretary for education has her way.

“There’s a torrent of terrifying news that comes out of Washington every day.

“It’s easy to feel like education is not as significant but I think nothing can be further from the truth.”

Moonlight dominated the Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California, winning six trophies including best feature, best director and best screenplay.

Barry Jenkins’ movie about a young black man struggling with his sexuality in Miami beat Manchester By The Sea, Jackie, Chronic and American Honey to win the best film award.

But the coming-of-age drama faces tough competition at the Oscars on Sunday, where musical La La Land is expected to win multiple awards after earning 14 nominations.

Backstage, Barry – who won gongs for best director and best screenplay – said he was “pissed off” by the current political situation in America.

He said: “I’m pissed off, as Casey said he was pissed off, as I’m pretty sure the majority in that room is pissed off.

“I think Moonlight as this beacon of inclusivity, as this version of America that’s as valid as any red state … version of America.

“I made this movie under a very different administration.

“Now the space is not so safe.”

Isabelle Huppert beat Irish-Ethiopian actress Ruth Negga to win best female for her role in psychological thriller Elle.

Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris, who are both nominated for Oscars for their supporting roles in Moonlight, failed to gain nominations at the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Instead, Ben Foster won best supporting male for his performance in Western thriller Hell Or High Water, while Molly Shannon was named best supporting female for her role in Other People.

Moonlight also won trophies for best editing, cinematography and the Robert Altman Award, which is given to a film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast.

Josh Welsh, president of Film Independent, opened the show by thanking members of the press in the wake of recent criticism by Mr Trump.

He said: “At a time when you’ve been declared the enemy of the American people, it feels appropriate to thank you for existing and doing what you do.”

Mr Welsh also paid a “special thanks” to nominees from different countries around the world including Mexico and Iran.

“Thank you for coming and reminding us that the film-making community is one that transcends borders and walls,” he said.

“Independent film is globalism at its best.”

Shortly before the ceremony, Natalie Portman, who was nominated for best actress for her role in Jackie, revealed she would miss the Spirit awards and the Oscars because she is heavily pregnant.

The US star is expecting her second child with her husband, choreographer Benjamin Millepied.

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