Virgin Mountain and directed by Dagur Kári

The 14th annual Tribeca Film Festival, which runs through to April 26, 2015, announced the winners of its competition categories last night at a party hosted by Michael Rapaport at TFF’s creative hub, Tribeca Film Festival at Spring Studios.

The winners of the top prizes in the narrative and documentary competition were awarded from the World Narrative and World Documentary sections of the official Festival lineup. The Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature went to Virgin Mountain (pictured above), written and directed by Dagur Kári, and Best Documentary Feature went to Democrats, directed by Camilla Nielsson.

The festival announced that beginning this year, the new name of the Best New Documentary Director Award going forward will be called The Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award, which was awarded last night by Philip Maysles and Sara Maysles, the beloved filmmaker’s children to Ewan McNicol and Anna Sandilands for Uncertain.

The complete list of winners, awards, and comments from the jury who selected the recipients are as follows:

WORLD NARRATIVE COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

The Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature – Virgin Mountain, written and directed by Dagur Kári [Iceland, Denmark].
In Virgin Mountain, “Fúsi is a mammoth of a man who at 43-years-old is still living at home with his mother. Shy and awkward, he hasn’t quite learned how to socialize with others, leaving him as an untouchable inexperienced virgin. That is until his family pushes him to join a dance class, where he meets the equally innocent but playful Sjöfn. In Icelandic with subtitles.”
Jury Comment: “With its mixture of humor and pathos, this film captured our hearts. Beyond the deceptively small frame of a mismatched love story, the film deals with the issues of bigotry, loneliness, bullying, mental illness, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit and the meaning of love.”

Best Actor in a Narrative Feature Film –Gunnar Jónsson as Fúsi in Virgin Mountain (Iceland, Denmark).
Jury Comment: “The film was aided in no small measure by a performer whose mixture of comedy and sadness evokes Chaplin and Keaton, with a complete lack of tricks, pretense, or condescension. This performer relies instead on subtlety, timing, and naked honesty, creating an indelible portrait of a man fighting to be seen in a world that judges him by his appearance.

Best Actress in a Narrative Feature Film – Hannah Murray as Sara in Bridgend (Denmark).
In Bridgend, Sara (Hannah Murray) and her dad arrive in a town haunted by a spate of teenage suicides. When she falls in love with Jamie (Josh O’Connor), she becomes prey to the depression that threatens to engulf them all. Jeppe Rønde’s debut is based on the real-life Welsh county borough of Bridgend, which has recorded at least 79 suicides since 2007.
Jury Comment: “An actress who captured the hopelessness of a lost generation. With bravery and guilelessness, this young actress led us in a descent into a world gone mad, as well as a journey into the protagonist’s own inner darkness.”

Best Cinematography – Cinematography by Magnus Jønck for Bridgend (Denmark).
Jury Comment: “Soulful and searing images, a daring use of composition and light, and an evocative sense of place.”

Best Screenplay – Virgin Mountain written by Dagur Kári (Iceland, Denmark).
Jury Comment: “The writer of this film is also the director, and is credited as one of the editors, and also performed the music, and runs the director’s program at the National Film School of Denmark, leading us to wonder when he has time to go to the bathroom. His intricately designed, beautifully observed, and bravely conceived screenplay consistently defies expectations, avoids sentimentality, and never strikes a false note.

Best Narrative Editing – Bridgend edited by Oliver Bugge Coutté (Denmark).
Jury Comment: “Impeccable rhythms and expert balancing of many divergent narratives.”

WORLD DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

Democrats, directed by Camilla Nielsson

Best Documentary Feature – Democrats, directed by Camilla Nielsson (Denmark).
In the wake of Robert Mugabe’s highly criticized 2008 presidential win, a constitutional committee was created in an effort to transition Zimbabwe away from authoritarian leadership. With unprecedented access to the two political rivals overseeing the committee, this riveting, firsthand account of a country’s fraught first steps towards democracy plays at once like an intimate political thriller and unlikely buddy film.In English, Shona with subtitles.
Jury Comments: “For its choice of an important, universal subject; for filming in conditions where simply to be present is a triumph; and for prioritizing dignity, courage, and our common struggle for humanity, we give this year’s Best Documentary Feature award to Camilla Nielsson for Democrats.”

Special Jury Mention: In Transit , directed by Albert Maysles, Nelson Walker, Lynn True, David Usui, and Ben Wu. (U.S.A)

Palio, edited by Valerio Bonelli
Palio 2013

Best Documentary Editing – Palio, edited by Valerio Bonelli (U.K., Italy).
Jury Comments: “This film viscerally transported us into an event and turned life into art. For subtly placing us behind the scenes; and for general technical excellence, this year’s award for Best Editing in a Documentary goes to editor Valerio Bonelli for Palio.”

BEST NEW NARRATIVE DIRECTOR COMPETITION:

Men Go To Battle movie

Best New Narrative Director – Zachary Treitz director of Men Go To Battle (U.S.A).
Kentucky, 1861. Francis and Henry Mellon depend on each other to keep their unkempt estate afloat as winter encroaches. After Francis takes a casual fight too far, Henry ventures off in the night, leaving each of them to struggle through the wartime on their own.
Jury Comments: “Zachary Treitz presented us with a combination of approaches not all that easy to put together: a unique and sincere vision, alongside off-beat humor, alongside historical and emotional authenticity.”

Special Jury Mention: Stephen Fingleton for The Survivalist (Northern Ireland, U.K.).

BEST NEW DOCUMENTARY DIRECTOR COMPETITION:

Uncertain by Ewan McNicol and Anna Sandilands

Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award – Ewan McNicol and Anna Sandilands for Uncertain (U.S.A).
An aquatic weed threatens the lake of the small American border town of Uncertain, Texas, and consequently the livelihoods of those who live there. As some of the men in town attempt to figure out their future, they confront a past that haunts them.
Jury Comment: “This year we recognize a beautiful character study that explores violent natures, redemption, and what it takes to tame the self. A perfect balance of simplicity and mystery, this American story examines humanity, and how it can unwittingly destroy not just landscapes but livelihoods.”

Special Jury Mention: Erik Shirai for The Birth of Saké(U.S.A).

SHORT FILM COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

Best Narrative Short – Listen, directed by Hamy Ramezan and Rungano Nyoni (Finland, Denmark).
In Listen a foreign woman in a burqa brings her young son to a police station to file a complaint against her abusive husband, but the translator assigned to her seems unwilling to convey the true meaning of her words.
Jury Comments: “This year’s winner for Best Narrative Short was emotionally compelling and by far the most affecting of the pieces we screened, with the filmmakers displaying a clear emotional connection with the narrative. To say that we had a healthy debate is an understatement.”

Special Jury Mention:  Statistical Analysis of Your Failing Relationship directed by Miles Jay (U.S.A, Canada).

Best Documentary Short – Body Team 12 directed by David Darg (Liberia).
Body Team 12 a team is tasked with arguably the most dangerous and gruesome job in the world: collecting the dead at the height of the Ebola outbreak.
Jury Comments: “The winning film is a spiritual and inspiring story of personal courage and commitment. The filmmaking team takes us on a fearless journey that restores our faith in humanity and inspires viewers to be optimistic despite facing the most extreme challenges.”

Special Jury Mention: We Live This directed by James Burns (U.S.A).

Student Visionary Award – Catwalk directed by Ninja Thyberg (Sweden).
Nine-year-old Ella’s classmates are playing in the schoolyard in full adult dress-up, and she wants to be part of that world in Catwalk.
Jury Comments: “An effective look at peer influence not peer pressure.  A creative explanation of what young people are experiencing as a result of social media threads and trends. Beautifully shot, and cast with a profound message that promotes individuality and vulnerability amongst the girls and parents, this year’s Student Visionary Award goes to Ninja Thyberg for her film Catwalk.”

Special Jury Mention: Kingdom of Garbage, directed by Yasir Kareem (Iraq, U.K.).

BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® STORYSCAPES AWARD

BOMBAY SAPPHIRE ® Storyscapes Award: Door Into the Dark created by Amy Rose and May Abdalla at Anagram (U.K.).
“This is a labyrinth.” Find out what it means to be lost in an age of infinite information.
Using groundbreaking locative technology, this immersive documentary combines captivating storytelling with a visceral physical experience: feel your way into the dark—blindfolded, shoeless, and alone— along a taut length of rope that leads to a vivid aural world of real people who have been profoundly lost. Your encounter with these characters takes you deep into their sensations, risks, and illusions. To find your way into the light you must surrender to the unknown.
Jury Comments: “In an overwhelming media environment in which we struggle for control, we recognize a work that viscerally reconnects us with the value of letting go. It offers a meticulously crafted storyworld that allows us to cerebrally, emotionally, and quite literally leave our baggage behind and step into the void. In that void we become disoriented, take risks, make choices and find ourselves again, changed. Ambitious, simple, and profound, this work marks a fresh and promising direction for the field of immersive theater. It evoked a euphoria that stayed with us long after we left it.”

THE NORA EPHRON PRIZE

The Nora Ephron Prize: Sworn Virgin, directed by Laura Bispuri and written by Francesca Manieri and Bispuri (Albania, Germany, Italy, Kosovo, Switzerland).
As a young woman living within the confines of a Northern Albanian village, Hana longs to escape the shackles of womanhood, and live her life as a man. To do so she must take an oath to eternally remain a virgin. Years later, as Mark, she leaves home for the first time to confront a new set of circumstances, leading her to contemplate the possibility of undoing her vow. In Albanian, Italian with subtitles.
Jury Comments: “We are awarding a film that is exquisite in its broadness and its intimacy, with a truly original story that touches on oppression in a way that members of this jury have rarely seen before. The film constantly surprised us and made us question our own positions through a confident, passionate, and beautifully nuanced vision that showed a real respect for the audience.”

Special Jury Mention: Being 14 directed and written by Hélène Zimmer (France).

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