Tribeca Film Festival announces awards

British documentary The Arbor among winners

by Amber Wilkinson

Clio Barnard's debut feature The Abor was among the winners at the ninth Tribeca Film Festival yesterday, and it was a particularly good night for female filmmakers, who scooped several of the top prizes.

Artist-turned-director Barnard named Best New Documentary for her creatively inventive and challenging film about Rita, Sue And Bob Too! playwright Andrea Dunbar. Although ostensibly about the author, the film actually broadens out to create a snapshot of the cycle of tragedy many experience in sink estates in Britain. Barnard wins $25,000 for the award.

The jury said: "Imagination is a word you don’t often associate with documentary filmmaking, but this director bends the boundaries of the form, beautifully crafting an innovative and detailed film wherein great storytelling is paramount."

The top narrative prize at the festival went to German film When We Leave (Die Fremde). Written and directed by Feo Aladag, the jurors said: "When We Leave examines one woman’s struggle for personal freedom. It’s a theme that is often explored – but rarely told with such humanity, subtlety, craftsmanship or immediacy, as in tonight’s winning entry.

"When We Leave is a riveting and heartbreaking story of a woman trapped in an abusive relationship, who must not only free herself from that marriage, but also the cultural prejudices and judgments that would keep her there. Feo Aladag built the nuances of her film over a six year period. She rehearsed her actors for seven months. She immersed herself in every detail of a culture that is revealed to us in remarkable detail. The result is a film that balances complex social issues with honest human yearnings.

"Through the brutality, When We Leave is also a story of tenderness, the struggle for compassion, the inexorable pull of family and the need to love and be loved.”

Aldag wins $25,000 for the award, and the same amount was given to Alexandra Codina for her intimate documentary about a young Down Syndrome couple.

The Jury said: "Monica & David takes an incredibly intimate situation and beautifully translates it in a way that makes you think about your own life. It’s a clear and observant look at a family and the purity of love, fueled by an organic sense of the sadness, joy and everyday humor that fill this epic journey that is life.”

Rounding out the top awards was Kim Chapiron, who was named best new narrative filmmaker for his French juvenile detention centre drama Dog Pound (written by Jeremie Delon).

The Jury said: “There was any number of films this year in which the director was able to bring together disparate thoughts, ideas and images. We have chosen to honor a director who created an environment built with such intensity and humanity that his ensemble cast was able to transcend the cold walls and locked doors that confined their characters.”

Special jury mention was also given to Loose Cannons, directed by Ferzan Ozpetek and written by Ferzan Ozpetek and Ivan Cotroneo, which the jury said "buoyantly explores the story of two gay brothers attempting to find happiness in a traditional Italian family that is less than accepting of their lifestyle choices".

They added: "Expertly combining family drama and farce, Loose Cannons tackles its subject matter with warmth, humor and grace. For making us laugh, cry and immediately want to book a trip to Southern Italy, we congratulate director Ferzan Ozpetek and his talented cast and collaborators on this special mention.”

They also gave a special mention to documentary Budrus, directed by Julia Bacha for offering a "powerful message and a fresh perspective on an issue that is familiar to many".

The acting awards were given to Eric Elmosnino for his portrayal of Serge Gainbourg in Gainsbourg in Gainsbourg, Je t’Aime…Moi Non Plus and Sibel Kekilli as Umay in When We Leave.

The rest of the awards are below:

Best New York Narrative – Monogamy, directed by Dana Adam Shapiro, written by Dana Adam Shapiro and Evan M. Weiner. (USA).

Special Jury Mention: Melissa Leo for her performance in The Space Between, directed and written by Travis Fine.

Best New York Documentary – The Woodmans, directed by C. Scott Willis.

Best Narrative Short – Father Christmas Doesn't Come Here, directed by Bekhi Sibiya, written by Sibongile Nkosana, Bongi Ndaba. (South Africa)

Jury Comments: “The jury was unanimous in its enthusiasm for the winning film. It is an assured, original, and profoundly moving.”

Special Jury Mention: The Crush, directed and written by Michael Creagh. (Ireland).

Best Documentary Short – White Lines & The Fever: The Death of DJ Junebug, directed and written by Travis Senger. (USA).

Jury Comments: “For our winner we chose a film that we feel effectively showed the evolution of hip-hop through its captivating visuals, riveting interviews and exciting exploration of the music and the culture behind the phenomenon."

Special Jury Mention: Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn, directed and written by Nancy Kapitanoff, Sharon Yamato. (USA).

Student Visionary Award – some boys don't leave, directed by Maggie Kiley, written by Matthew Mullen, Maggie Kiley. (USA).

Special Jury Mention: The Pool Party, directed and written by Sara Zandieh. (Iran, USA).

Tribeca Film Festival VIRTUAL Best Feature Film: Spork, directed and written by JB Ghuman, Jr. (USA).

Tribeca Film Festival VIRTUAL Best Short Film: Delilah, Before, directed by Melanie Schiele.

The audience award winner will be announced later tonight.

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