Kenneth Branagh’s critically acclaimed drama Belfast took home the Best Feature Film prize at the 2021 Twin Cities Film Fest. A semi-autobiographical portrait of childhood and working class family life in Northern Ireland during the tumultuous period of the late 1960s, the film stars Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe.
The festival’s top non-fiction award went to Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler’s Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, which documents former ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jeffery Robinson’s groundbreaking stage talk on the history of anti-Black racism in America, interweaving his acclaimed presentation with archival footage, interviews and Robinson’s own stirring backstory.
The 2021 Audience Award prize also went to Belfast, directed by Kenneth Branaugh (Narrative), along with After Antarctica, directed by Tasha Van Zandt (Documentary) and Lemon Shark, Directed by Kate Nowlin (Short).
“What an inspirational year this was for all of us,” said TCFF Executive Director Jatin Setia. “From the quality, creativity and urgency of this year’s submissions to the visceral rush of being back in theaters communing with other movie lovers and the added energy that comes with expanding our film community via digital streaming, this is a festival I’ll never forget. Our 2021 celebration felt like a wonderful return to normal while also pointing to how this annual gathering — and our entire organization — will continue to evolve beyond the pandemic.”
Looking ahead to 2022, Setia announced plans for one new TCFF initiative: Code Red, a curated film series that will focus on climate change consequences, innovation and resilience.
Danielle Zalopany received this year’s Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance award for her fearless performance in the critical hit Waikiki, playing a native Hawaiian juggling three jobs while living out of her van. Cinematographer Nick Brandestini won the Indie Vision — Breakthrough Achievement award for his unforgettable imagery in the lush documentary Sapelo.
The 2021 Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedic Shorts Award went to Gorilla Wants Banana, directed by Andrew Juncker.
Twin Cities Film Fest 2021 Award Winners
Best Feature Film Award: Belfast, directed by Kenneth Branagh
The Robert Byrd Best Documentary Award: Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, directed by Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler
Best Short Film Award: Gorilla Wants Banana, directed by Andrew Juncker
Audience Award, Feature: Belfast directed by Kenneth Branagh
Audience Award, Feature – Runner Up: Sold Out directed by Tim Dahlseid
Audience Award, Non-Fiction: After Antarctica, directed by Tasha Van Zandt and produced by Tasha Van Zandt and Sebastian Zeck
Audience Award, Non-Fiction – Runner Up: A Fire Within, Directed by Christopher Chambers
Audience Award, Short Film: Lemon Shark, Directed by Kate Nowlin
Audience Award, Short Film – Runner Up: 28 is Great, directed by Jasmine Dorothy Haefner
Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance: Danielle Zalopany, Waikiki
Indie Vision — Breakthrough Achievement: Nick Brandestini, Sapelo
Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedic Shorts Award: Gorilla Wants Banana, directed by Andrew Zunker
2021 TCFF Finalists
Best Feature Film Award: Belfast, directed by Kenneth Branagh; C’mon C’mon, directed by Mike Mills; The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, directed by Will Sharpe; The French Dispatch, directed by Wes Anderson; and Waikiki, directed by Christopher Kahunahana.
The Robert Byrd Best Documentary Film Award: A Fire Within, directed by Christopher Chambers; Mayor Pete, directed by Jesse Moss; That’s Wild, directed by Michiel Thomas; Trusted Messenger, directed by Chris Newberry; and Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, directed by Emily and Sarah Kunstler.
Best Short Film Award: Gorilla Wants Banana, directed by Andrew Juncker; Lemon Shark, directed by Kate Nowlin; Frankie, directed by James Kautz: and No Dogs, directed by Randal Kamradt.
TCFF’s Indie Vision Award — Breakthrough Performance: Sam Bardwell in Sold Out; Juliana Destefano in Acid Test; Leonard Searcy in 39 Seconds; Mary Cate Williams in Her Name Was Jo; and Danielle Zalopany in Waikiki.
TCFF’s Indie Vision Award — Breakthrough Achievement: Aizzah Fatima and Iman K. Zawahry for their screenplay Americanish; Nathaniel Eras, Jimmy Stoefer and Alan Wilkis for their music in Drunk Bus; Nick Brandestini for his cinematography in Sapelo; Filmmaker C.J. Renner for his use of immersive VR techniques in Soldier; and Christopher Kahunahana for his direction in Waikiki.
Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedy Shorts Award: Gorilla Wants Banana, directed by Andrew Juncker; The Homework Fairy, directed by David Mair; and Shots, directed by Joshua Carlon