'Precious' sweeps spirit awards'

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Precious, the harrowing tale of an incest survivor’s struggle for self-acceptance, swept the Spirit Awards last week, taking home five prizes at the independent film world’s version of the Oscars.

The film’s haul included best feature, director and first screenplay. Its actors, newcomer Gabourey Sidibe and comedienne Mo’Nique, took home the honors for female lead and supporting female, respectively.

For Mo’Nique, who played an abusive mother, it represented yet another statuette for her groaning shelf this awards season. The only event left is the Academy Awards on today.

But the 42-year-old actress told reporters backstage that she was not preparing an Oscar acceptance speech, because “I think the universe would say, ‘You have a lot of nerve.’”

Sidibe, 26, plucked from obscurity to play an illiterate schoolgirl impregnated by her stepfather, recalled that her mother would give her $2 a day for going to school. She saved her funds and saw her first 1995 independent movie,Welcome to the Dollhouse.

“Perhaps that was when my independent spirit was born,” said Sidibe, who described herself as “kind of a dork.” The film, whose full name is Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, also won the screenplay award for Geoffrey Fletcher. Lee Daniels, accepting his award for best director, indicated it might be his last time at the podium during awards season.