The critically acclaimed slave drama 12 Years A Slave dominated the Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles, a day before finding itself under the limelight at the Oscars.

Lupita Nyong’o, one of five winners for 12 Years A Slave at the Spirit Awards

As well as taking the Best Feature prize, at the ceremony on the Santa Monica beachfront, the British director Steve McQueen took the Spirit Award for Best Director, while Lupita Nyong’o was voted the Best Supporting Actress, by members of the film-making organisation, Film Independent. 12 Years A Slave also took the honours for screenplay and cinematography.

Joining Nyong’o among the acting winners were fellow Oscar nominees Cate Blanchett, who took the Best Actress prize for Blue Jasmine, and Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won the lead and supporting actor honours for Dallas Buyers Club.

Another film starring McConaughey, Mud, received the Robert Altman Award, which is handed to the director, casting director and cast of a film.

Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station took the award for the Best First Feature, and the Nebraska writer, Bob Nelson, took home the Best First Screenplay prize.

The Cannes winner Blue is the Warmest Colour took the Best Foreign Film award, while the Spirit for Best Documentary went to 20 Feet from Stardom, about backing singers.

Unless Gravity sweeps the board at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, 2014 could be a rare occasion where the the Spirits, recognising the best low budget features, are in step with the Oscars, which considers the biggest and best that Hollywood has to offer.

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