Virgin Mountain takes top prize at Tribeca

Hat-trick for Icelandic drama.

by Amber Wilkinson

Virgin Mountain
Virgin Mountain
Gentle Icelandic drama Virgin Mountain (Fúsi) was named best dramatic film at Tribeca. The film, which tells an offbeat love story, won a purse of $25,000 for director Dagur Kári, who took home a $5,000 bonus for best screenplay. The film's hat-trick of awards saw Gunnar Jónsson named as best actor for his role as shy man mountain Fúsi, whose subtle performance that relies as much on small gestures and looks as scripting, is fully deserving of recognition.

The other chief winner at this year's festival was a Danish film - shot in the UK - Bridgend. The film is certainly controversial, as it draws on the real-life suicides of teenagers and young adults in the Welsh town of the title and although some of the craft behind the film is good - particularly Magnus Jønck's excellent cinematography - I found the reductive nature of the picture painted (every home seems to be broken, all children positively cultish) lacking in nuance, especially when you consider that the families of the 79 who have taken their lives are still alive and likely to be greatly affected by the film's contents.

The jury - Paul Attansio, Sophie Barthes, Whoopi Goldberg, Dylan McDermott and Burr Steers - evidently did not share these reservations, citing the film's "impeccable rhythms" as they awarded it the gongs for best cinematography, best narrative editing (Oliver Bugge Coutté) and, for its star Hannah Murray, best actress.

Zachary Treitz won the best new narrative director prize for his historic drama Men Go To Battle, with a special mention going to Stephen Fingleton for his Irish post-Apocalyptic drama The Survivalist. Both films show strong potential for both directors going forward and are notable for their strong handling of mood and sense of place on small budgets.

Camilla Nielsson's Democrats - which follows power brokers in Zimbabwe as they try to thrash out a new constitution - was named best documentary, with a special mention going to In Transit, directed by Nelson Walker, Lynn True, David Usui, Ben Wu and Albert Maysles, who died recently. In honour of Maysles, Tribeca's new documentary award will be named after him going forward.

This year, that award went to Ewan McNicol and Anna Sandilands for their study of a small Texan town, Uncertain. A special jury mention was given to Erik Shirai for The Birth of Saké. Valerio Bonelli won the award for best documentary editing for her work on UK/Italian co-production Palio.

Other winners

Best Narrative Short – Listen, directed by Hamy Ramezan and Rungano Nyoni (Finland, Denmark).

Special Jury Mention: Statistical Analysis Of Your Failing Relationship, directed by Miles Jay (US, Canada).

Best Documentary Short – Body Team 12, directed by David Darg (Liberia).

Special Jury Mention: We Live This, directed by James Burns (US).

Student Visionary Award – Catwalk, directed by Ninja Thyberg (Sweden).

Special Jury Mention: Kingdom Of Garbage, directed by Yasir Kareem (Iraq, UK)

Storyscapes Award - Door Into The Dark, created by Amy Rose and May Abdalla at Anagram (UK).

The Nora Ephron Prize - Sworn Virgin, directed by Laura Bispuri and written by Francesca Manieri and Bispuri (Albania, Germany, Italy, Kosovo, Switzerland).

Audience Award for narrative - King Jack, directed and written by Felix Thompson (US).

Runner-up: Sleeping With Other People, directed and written by Leslye Headland (US).

Audience Award for documentary - TransFatty Lives, directed by Patrick O’Brien, co-written by Patrick O'Brien, Scott Crowningshield, Lasse Jarvi, Doug Pray (US)

Runner-up: Song Of Lahore, directed by Andy Schocken and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. (US, Pakistan).

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