Tribeca Film Festival: 'War Witch,' 'Una Noche' take home top prizes

WAR-WITCH

War Witch, a Canadian-made film about a young girl who escapes from the African rebels who forced her to be a child soldier, was named Best Narrative Feature at the 11th annual Tribeca Film Festival. “This indelible character study of a girl who becomes a woman before our eyes in the midst of harrowing war gives words to the unspeakable,” said the jury, which included Patricia Clarkson, Dakota Fanning, Mike Newell, EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum, Jim Sheridan, and Irwin Winkler. “Riveting, heartbreaking, vivid, and eloquent, the movie balances scenes of crazy enemy hatred with moments of luminous private love.”

Rachel Mwanza, who played the 14-year-old Komona in War Witch, directed by Kim Nguyen, also won for Best Actress. “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,” declared the jury.

Click below for a complete listing of all the awards. The winners of the Heineken Audience Awards, determined by audience votes throughout the Festival, will be announced on April 28. Screenings of all winning films will take place throughout the final day of the festival, Sunday, April 29.

WORLD NARRATIVE COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

The jurors for the 2012 World Narrative Competition were Patricia Clarkson, Dakota Fanning, Mike Newell, Lisa Schwarzbaum, Jim Sheridan, and Irwin Winkler.

The Founders Award for Best Narrative FeatureWar 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).

Jury Comments: “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. 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.”

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).

Jury Comments: “Una Noche reveals a Havana we could never otherwise see, in its jumble of vibrant life, decay, and making do. There’s a ‘you are there’ documentary immediacy to the picture, shot on the fly and in the streets, that keeps us enthralled.”

Special Jury Mention — Alex Catalan for Unit 7. The announcement was made by Lisa Schwarzbaum.

Best Screenplay for a Narrative Feature FilmAll In (La Suerte en Tus Manos), written by Daniel Burman and Sergio Dubcovsky and directed by Daniel Burman (Argentina).

Jury Comments: “We are impressed with the movie’s elegant and thoughtful balance of comedic lightness and deepness of soul; its ability to locate universal issues regarding families, lovers, kids, and running a business within the tangy specificity of an Argentinean Jewish poker-playing milieu; and its ability to cram vasectomies and rock ’n’ roll rabbis into the same story without breaking a sweat. Comedy is hard; All In handles it with ease.”

BEST NEW NARRATIVE DIRECTOR:

The jurors for the 2012 Best New Narrative Director Competition were Camilla Belle, Whoopi Goldberg, Susannah Grant, Zach Helm, Courtney Hunt, Kellan Lutz, and Leelee Sobieski.

Best New Narrative Director — Lucy Mulloy, director of Una Noche (UK, Cuba, USA).

Jury Comments: “Lucy Mulloyʼs Una Noche rang the bell inside all of our little director hearts. We simply thought the film was awesome, and it only grew in our esteem as we spoke of it after. It is a film that immediately connects any audience member it can find to the undeniable, hopeful, and naïve intentions of the young. It is so rich in its motivations, and so breathtaking in its outcomes, it is thoughtful and entertaining in perfect balance. Mulloy pulled us through social portrait to family drama, to true crime, to thriller, all with skill, grace, the realized intent of a sophisticated filmmaker, and deep love for humanity. So, Lucy, we would like you to accept the 2012 Best New Narrative Director award, and please consider us for your next picture.”

Special Jury Mention — P. Benoit, director of Stones in the Sun; and Sharon Bar-Ziv, director of Room 514.

WORLD DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

The jurors for the 2012 World Documentary Competition were Julia Bacha, Kim Cattrall, K’naan, Michael Moore, and Lucy Walker.

Best Documentary FeatureThe World Before Her, directed by Nisha Pahuja (Canada).

Jury Comments: “With unprecedented access, great compassion, and a keen eye for the universal, this year’s winner takes a hard and clear-eyed look at the trials of growing up female in today’s fast-changing world. Following young women who have taken diametrically opposed decisions on how to tackle the influence of global forces in their communities, the filmmaker takes us on a journey to examine how the pressures of faith, fashion, and family are bringing up a generation of women who are desperately searching for meaning amidst a reality of few real choices.”

Special Jury MentionThe Revisionaries, directed by Scott Thurman.

Best Editing in a Documentary FeatureThe Flat (Hadira), edited by Tali Halter Shenkar, directed by Arnon Goldfinger, (Israel, Germany).

Jury Comments: “For a story so skillfully told that even though we thought this subject had been covered already by many great films, to our surprise a new story emerged that took us by surprise, left us on the edge of our seat, and will stay with us. The story is based on a complicated and murky journey into the unknown; however, thanks to the sure-handed and deceptively simple editing, it unfolded so clearly and powerfully that even a scene of the filmmaker and his mother lost in a rainy graveyard becomes beautifully climactic and memorable. This is a lesson in how a modestly shot family history can transcend its personal nature and become universal in its insights into human psychology thanks to great filmmaking craft.”

BEST NEW DOCUMENTARY DIRECTOR COMPETITION:

The jurors for the 2012 Best New Documentary Director Competition were Stuart Blumberg, Jared Cohen, Rachel Grady, Bethann Hardison, Sal Masekela, Ricki Stern, and Olivia Wilde.

Best New Documentary Director — Jeroen van Velzen for Wavumba  (Netherlands).

Jury Comments: “A modern day Old Man and the Sea tale, set off the coast of Kenya, this lyrical film depicts the story of Masoud, a legend of shark fishing who, along with his young protégé, strives to end his days with one last grand catch. We the jury especially appreciated this new director’s confidence of style, his restraint and his deep relationship to a culture fast disappearing. It is a hypnotic story of man and nature, unafraid of silence, and full of a terrible beauty. We look forward to his next endeavor with great anticipation.”

Special Jury Mention — Christian Bonke and Andreas Koefoed, directors of Ballroom Dancer.

SHORT FILM COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

The 2012 Best Narrative Short Competition jurors were Maureen Chiquet, Hugh Dancy, Aline Brosh McKenna, Bridget Moynahan, Drew Nieporent, Mohammed Saeed Harib, and Shari Springer Berman.

Best Narrative ShortAsad, directed by Bryan Buckley (USA)

Jury Comments: “Asad is a lyrical, moving and beautifully realized portrayal of a world we rarely get to see in cinema. Every shot of the film is well thought out and specific to this unique world—a fishing village in Somalia. Yet Asad’s most astounding achievement is boasting an array of brilliant performances by a cast of Somali refugees. Congratulations to writer/director Bryan Buckley and his amazing cast on making a short film that is rather large in spirit, ambition and accomplishment.”

Special Jury Mention — Ritesh Batra, writer and director of Café Regular Cairo.

The 2012 Best Documentary and Student Short Competition jurors were Scooter Braun, Robert Hammond, Brett Ratner, Susan Sarandon, James Spione, Shailene Woodley, and Susan Zirinsky.

Best Documentary ShortParaíso, directed by Nadav Kurtz (USA).

Jury Comments: “This film is a beautifully crafted portrait of a group of men with a sense of humanity and a very unique view of the world. In 10 minutes we were drawn into a story that told us about human nature, quality of life, economics, race, the importance of family and mortality. The men may be invisible to the world rushing below them, but they see through the windows they’re washing — deep into the lives and souls of the people behind the glass. It’s cinematically exquisite, with light so rich it’s thrilling to watch.”

Special Jury Mention — David Darg and Bryn Mooser, directors of Baseball in the Time of Cholera.

Student Visionary AwardStitches, directed by Adiya Imri Orr (Israel).

Jury Comments: “Stitches is a well written, powerfully acted film that exposes the rawness of two life partners who have decided to have a baby and now find themselves at the precipice of their relationship. The world around them still treats them like they don’t quite belong. Every confrontation, every expression feels like you’re touching an exposed nerve. Life, as you discover in this film, is not always neat.”

Special Jury Mention — Tati Barrantes and Andinh Ha, writers and directors of Adirake.

TRIBECA (ONLINE) FILM FESTIVAL CATEGORIES:

The 2012 Tribeca (Online) Film Festival winners were voted on by visitors to tribecafilm.com.

Tribeca (Online) Film Festival Best Feature FilmOn The Mat, directed and written by Fredric Golding (USA).

Tribeca (Online) Film Festival Best Short FilmCatCam, directed by Seth Keal (USA).

Read more:
Tribeca: A fourth-dimensional interview with Val Kilmer
Tribeca: Elizabeth McGovern on playing English matriarchs

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