Winner: director Asif Kapadia
Oscar winner: director Asif Kapadia

Hackney director Asif Kapadia triumphed last night at the Oscars, winning Best Documentary Feature for his film about the late singer Amy Winehouse.

Amy, which is the highest grossing British documentary of all time, beat off competition from Cartel Land, The Look of Silence, What Happened Miss Simone and Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.

The film looks at the life of the troubled jazz singer, who died in 2011 aged 27, using interviews with friends and family as well as archival footage.

In his acceptance speech at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, Kapadia, 44, who grew up in Hackney, said: “This film’s all about Amy showing who she really was – funny, intelligent, witty. We just wanted to make a film to show what she really was.”

The Oscar win makes it a clean sweep of major award ceremonies for the film, which was named Best Documentary Award at the BAFTAs and Best Music Film at the Grammys.

The director responded on Twitter to this latest victory with one word – “Wow.”

Speaking to the East End Review in January, Kapadia said that his aim for the film was to show people “the real girl, the real Amy”.

“At least now people have more compassion and love for her now than maybe before. I think she became a bit of a tabloid persona, tabloid character, when actually she’s high art, she’s a real natural phenomenon and someone for London to be really proud of,” he said.

Kapadia has become the UK’s most successful documentary maker of recent times, with Amy surpassing Kapadia’s 2010 docuemntary Senna as the highest grossing British documentary of all time.

Talking about his upbringing in Hackney, Kapadia said it had given him “strength to survive”.

“I’m a Hackney boy born and bred,” he said. “I was born in Mother’s Hopsital which is no longer there, I went to Tyssen Primary school and I went to Homerton House secondary school.

“We lived in Stokey and we lived in Stamford Hill and although I don’t live in Hackney right now you can’t take Hackney out of the man. It definitely gave me the strength to survive.”

Last month Kapadia revealed that he is working on a new documentary about the Argentine football legend Maradona.

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