Tribeca Film Festival announces awards

The Rocket, The Kill Team, Whitewash and Oxyana win top gongs

by Amber Wilkinson

Sitthiphon Disamoe and Alice Keohavong in The Rocket
Sitthiphon Disamoe and Alice Keohavong in The Rocket
The Rocket has won the Founders Award for best narrative feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. Kim Mordaunt's film, starring a mainly non-professional cast, tells the story of a youngster in Laos who is displaced with his family. The jury of the 12th edition of the festival - which ends on Sunday - also picked The Rocket's young star Sitthiphon Disamoe - who plays the central role of Ahlo - as best actor. A special jury mention was given to Stand Clear Of The Closing Doors - which tells the story of an autistic boy's odyssey on the New York subway.

The jury said: “The Rocket is a spectacular achievement that is powerful and delightful in equal measures. Artfully structured and gorgeously shot, it chronicles the struggles of a displaced family while steering well clear of either sentimentality or despair. Complex in its tone and characterisations, the film takes an unflinching – and edifying – look at the suffering caused both by a legacy of war and the new status quo of economic globalization. And yet, while never losing sight of those grim realities, it also offers us a transcendent tale of hope and perseverance in a world that few Westerners ever have the chance to see.”

The best documentary award went to Dan Krauss's film The Kill Team, which offers first-person insight into a rogue platoon in Afghanistan who started killing for sport, asking how culpable the whistleblower is.

The jury said: "It masterfully combines verite footage, talking head interviews and a private look into one family's desperate fight in a seamless cinematic undertaking."

Belgian film The Broken Circle Breakdown - my personal favourite of the fiction features I've seen here - saw Carl Joos and Felix van Groeningen win the award for best screenplay, while its star Veerle Baetens was named best actress for her blisteringly emotional performance.

The jury said: "She is the heart and soul of the movie, and her performance is nothing short of a tour de force.”

The cinematography award was given to Marius Matzow Gulbrandsen for Before Snowfall.

Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais was named best new narrative director for Whitewash, while Sean Dunne picked up the award for best new documentary director and a special jury mention in the main competition for his drug addiction exploration Oxyana.

The winner of best narrative short was Italian film The Nightshift Belongs to the Stars, directed by Edoardo Ponti, with a special jury mention going to Michael Spiccia for Aussie short Yardbird.

US film Coach, directed by Bess Kargman, was named best documentary short, with a special jury mention for Michael Scalisi's Don't Frighten Me.

The student visionary award went to Canadian film Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, directed by Stephen Dunn.

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