A woman won the Best Male Performance award at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts’s (AAD) 89th Annual Awards on Sunday night, beating out several others who had previously claimed the award.
In the film, Aya, played by Saoirse Ronan, tells a story about a woman named Yolanda (Jada Pinkett Smith) who becomes pregnant after being raped and leaves her husband, who she is not allowed to marry, in an attempt to save her.
The actress and director, who won the best supporting actress prize, said her character is the victim of a sexual assault, which she later learns is the result of her husband’s cheating.
In a video posted on her Instagram account, she said she had no idea that she would be nominated for the award, which is named for her grandfather, Ernest Olliver Ollivier Ollivel, a British novelist who was a professor of English literature at Oxford University.
The film was nominated for a best picture and director award, but it did not win any of the three other awards.
The AAE, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to promoting the arts, says it was inspired by the stories of female actors and writers who have spoken out against sexual abuse.
The award ceremony took place in the main ballroom of the Hollywood Palladium, where the Academy Awards are held each year.
Al Jazeera’s Niamh O’Sullivan, reporting from Los Angeles, said the audience was divided between those who liked and loathed the film.
One woman, wearing a purple t-shirt, stood on the stage in a blue dress and sat with her arms folded across her chest and her face hidden by her hair, holding a blue and white flower.
She said she did not understand why a movie like this would be included.
“It’s so sad that people should be allowed to get awards, but when you get these awards, it’s like getting a gold star,” she said.
“I feel like they don’t give a shit about the victims of sexual abuse.”
The award, named after Ernest O. Ollovell, a writer and scholar who died in 2009, is a lifetime achievement award given to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the art of film and television.
Al Gore, the Oscar-winning actor and film director, won the award for best director for his 2007 movie, The Blue Planet.
A few dozen fans and friends of the film and the actress stood in line to accept the award in a ceremony in which awards were handed out to the top three nominees, including two winners, and other nominees were announced by a presenter.
Alamy’s Jonathan Jones contributed to this report.