The winners of the 11th annual Tribeca Film Festival's competition categories were announced Thursday night at a ceremony at the Conrad New York Hotel in New York City, where presenters included jury members Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, Patricia Clarkson, Leelee Sobieski, Olivia Wilde, Jim Sheridan, TFF executive director Nancy Schafer, and TFF founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal.
Narrative films "War Witch" and "Una Noche" were among the top honorees, continuing Tribeca's tradition of recognizing international actors and filmmakers. Both films featured nonprofessional actors who earned TFF acting awards for their revelatory lead performances.
"We salute the courage of the jury to award films that not only tell stories about real issues in the world, but are beautifully constructed and crafted," TFF artistic director Frederic Boyer said in a statement. "The amazing first-time performances by young actors are a tribute to the creativity of the films and filmmakers."
"War Witch," which was shot entirely in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and tells the story of a 14-year-old girl who was kidnapped from her village to become a child soldier, took home the Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature, and nonprofessional actor Rachel Mwanza earned the prize for Best Actress in a Narrative Feature Film. Writer-director Kim Nguyen accepted both awards, calling Mwanza's raw and untrained performance "pure Stanlislavski" for her ability to rely on sense memory and be in the moment.
"A nonprofessional actress, this remarkable young woman—barely a teenager when the movie was shot—so fully inhabits her role that there are no borders to her stunning performance, no distance at all between the actress and the unforgettable character Komona," Sheridan said when presenting the award.
First-time writer-director Lucy Mulloy took home the award for Best New Narrative Director for "Una Noche," her Spanish-language film about three Cuban teens who escape on a raft to the United States. Trevor Forrest and Shlomo Godder also won the award for Best Cinematography for their work on the film. "Una Noche" stars Dariel Arrechada and Javier Nuñez Florian shared the Best Actor award.
"We give the award for Best Actor in a Narrative Feature to Dariel Arrechada and to Javier Nuñez Florian in 'Una Noche,' for potent individual performances that together are even greater than the sum of their parts," Clarkson said when she presented the award. "Playing Raul and Elio, young Cuban men who goad each other on in a dream of fleeing Havana for a fantasy of Miami, Dariel locates Raul’s danger and sexual power as precisely as Javier taps into Elio’s essential sweetness. Both young actors are nonprofessionals who took great risks to tell a daring story. Each won our hearts."
Florian and fellow Cuban "Una Noche" co-star Anailin de la Rua de la Torre did not attend the festival, having disappeared in Miami last week prior to their film's premiere. Mulloy and Arrechada were there to accept the awards.
The award for Best Screenplay for a Narrative Feature went to Daniel Burman and Sergio Dubcovsky for "All In," a Spanish-language romantic comedy about a professional poker player and his ex-wife. Oscar-winning songwriter Jorge Drexler made his acting debut in the film.
The world competition winners for narrative and documentary films were chosen from 12 narrative and 12 documentary features from 18 countries. Best New Director prizes were awarded to a first-time director for both narrative and documentary films, selected from a pool of 24 feature films throughout the program. Awards were also given for the Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary Short, and Student Visionary Films in the short film competitions. This year’s lineup included 89 features and 60 short films from 46 countries, programmed by a team led by Tribeca’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Gilmore, new Artistic Director Frederic Boyer, and Director of Programming Genna Terranova.
The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival closes on Sunday, April 29. Below is the complete list of award winners:
WORLD NARRATIVE COMPETITION:
The Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature
"War Witch," directed by Kim Nguyen (Canada)
Best Actor in a Narrative Feature Film
Dariel Arrechada and Javier Nuñez Florian as Raul and Elio in "Una Noche," directed by Lucy Mulloy (UK, Cuba, USA)
Best Actress in a Narrative Feature Film
Rachel Mwanza as Komona in "War Witch," directed by Kim Nguyen (Canada)
Best Cinematography in a Narrative Feature Film
Cinematography by Trevor Forrest and Shlomo Godder for "Una Noche," directed by Lucy Mulloy (UK, Cuba, USA)
(Special Jury Mention: Alex Catalan for "Unit 7")
Best Screenplay for a Narrative Feature Film
"All In" ("La Suerte en Tus Manos"), written by Daniel Burman and Sergio Dubcovsky and directed by Daniel Burman (Argentina)
Best New Narrative Director
Lucy Mulloy, director of "Una Noche" (UK, Cuba, USA).
(Special Jury Mention: P. Benoit, director of "Stones in the Sun"; and Sharon Bar-Ziv, director of "Room 514")
WORLD DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION:
Best Documentary Feature
"The World Before Her," directed by Nisha Pahuja (Canada).
(Special Jury Mention: "The Revisionaries," directed by Scott Thurman)
Best Editing in a Documentary Feature
"The Flat" ("Hadira"), edited by Tali Halter Shenkar, directed by Arnon Goldfinger (Israel, Germany)
Best New Documentary Director
Jeroen van Velzen for "Wavumba" (Netherlands)
(Special Jury Mention: Christian Bonke and Andreas Koefoed, directors of "Ballroom Dancer")
SHORT FILM COMPETITION:
Best Narrative Short
"Asad," directed by Bryan Buckley (USA)
(Special Jury Mention: Ritesh Batra, writer and director of "Café Regular Cairo")
Best Documentary Short
"Paraíso," directed by Nadav Kurtz (USA)
(Special Jury Mention: David Darg and Bryn Mooser, directors of "Baseball in the Time of Cholera")
Student Visionary Award
"Stitches," directed by Adiya Imri Orr (Israel)
(Special Jury Mention: Tati Barrantes and Andinh Ha, writers and directors of "Adirake")
TRIBECA (ONLINE) FILM FESTIVAL:
Tribeca (Online) Film Festival Best Feature Film: "On The Mat," directed and written by Fredric Golding (USA)
Tribeca (Online) Film Festival Best Short Film: "CatCam," directed by Seth Keal (USA)