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The 2023 Tribeca Festival has announced its award winners across various competition categories, with Cypher, A Strange Path and Between the Rains among the films winning the top prizes.
Cypher won the founders award for best U.S. narrative feature with the prize going to director Chris Moukarbel.
Cypher follows YouTube rapper Tierra Whack, going behind the scenes of concerts and music videos as she navigates fame and receives praise until a seemingly innocuous fan interaction begins a series of increasingly unsettling events that follow Tierra and her team to Dubai as they start to question being watched as a part of fame.
A Strange Path dominated the international narrative competition, winning best feature (Guto Parente), performance (Carlos Francisco), screenplay (Parente) and cinematography (Linga Acácio).
Between the Rains won best documentary feature (Andrew H. Brown and Moses Thuranira) and cinematography in a doc feature (Brown).
Smoking Tigers, which was the first winner of Tribeca’s Untold Stories competition designed to offer opportunities to people from underrepresented backgrounds to be included in the festival’s narrative competition, received two awards in the narrative competition (best performance to Ji-Young Yoo and best screenplay for writer-director So Young Shelly Yo). The film also received an honorable mention for the Nora Ephron Award, with that prize going to Gabriella A. Moses’ Boca Chica.
This year’s Untold Stories competition was won by David Fortune’s Color Book, it was announced last week.
In the U.S. narrative competition, The Graduates‘ Caroline Costa won best cinematography and Mountains‘ Monica Sorelle received a special jury mention.
Other winners in the documentary competition include Mark Bukdahl and Orvar Aklew for The Gullspang Miracle and David Gutnik for Rule of Two Walls. The best new narrative director award went to Hugo Ruiz for One Night With Adela. And the Albert Maysles Award for best new documentary director went to Jude Chehab for Q, with Scream of My Blood co-director Nate Pommer and Break the Game‘s Jane M. Wagner receiving special jury mentions.
Awards were also presented in the short film, audio storytelling, immersive, games and Tribeca X categories.
“We take great pride in recognizing this year’s collection of diverse, trailblazing works and creators,” festival director and vp, programming Cara Cusumano said in a statement. “Today’s honorees are a compelling testament that storytelling across genres and platforms is on a vibrant and inspiring trajectory.”
Winners of the Audience Award, determined by filmgoers’ votes throughout the festival, will be announced at a later date. The 2022 Tribeca Festival runs through Sunday, June 18.
More information about the winners and special jury mentions for each competition, including quotes from the jury provided by Tribeca, is listed below.
U.S. NARRATIVE COMPETITION
Founders Award for Best U.S. Narrative Feature: Chris Moukarbel for Cypher, (United States) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “For its kaleidoscopic use of music, created imagery and found materials, in service of an interrogation of celebrity, conspiracy culture and the nature of narrative reality itself.” This award is sponsored by OKX.
Best Performance in a U.S. Narrative Feature: Ji-Young Yoo for Smoking Tigers, (United States) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “For this actor’s skill in holding the depth of their character’s experience with a quiet strength, vulnerability and a willingness to stay soft and open to their scene partners and camera alike.”
Best Screenplay in a U.S. Narrative Feature: So Young Shelly Yo for Smoking Tigers, (United States) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “This screenplay pulled us into its leading characters, making us care deeply about their pasts and futures. It skillfully juggled multiple storylines and journeys with nuance, emotional honesty, deft sequencing until the final beautiful scene.”
Best Cinematography in a U.S. Narrative Feature: Caroline Costa for The Graduates, (United States) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “From the very first frame, it was clear the cinematographer was someone in complete command of their craft. From their naturalistic approach to lighting to tight compositions, the cinematographer supported the emotional journey of the film at every turn.”
U.S. Narrative Feature Special Jury Mention: Monica Sorelle for Mountains, (United States) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “For its authentic, specific portrayal of a culture we had not seen on screen. A deeply emotional and empathetic portrait of a family in a changing world with brilliant leading performances.”
INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE COMPETITION
Best International Narrative Feature: Guto Parente for A Strange Path, (Brazil) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “In considering the International Narrative Feature Award, one film rose to the top with its surprising warmth and deeply compelling storytelling. We are honored to present the best International Narrative Feature award to Guto Parente for A Strange Path.”
Best Performance in an International Narrative Feature: Carlos Francisco for A Strange Path, (Brazil) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “In a slate full of compelling performances, one radiated a magnetic realism. In a brief but essential turn, this actor balanced the nuances of humanity and demanded to be watched. We happily honor Carlos Francisco with Best Performance in an International Narrative Feature.”
Best Screenplay in an International Narrative Feature: Guto Parente for A Strange Path, (Brazil) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “A great screenplay is a combination of structure and poetry. Our award is going to a screenplay that gave us not only the grief of reconciliation but a joyful expression of absurdity.”
Best Cinematography in an International Narrative Feature: Linga Acácio for A Strange Path, (Brazil) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “The Winner in this category blew us away with the strength of their visual force. Cinematography that illuminates the narrative with not only the natural beauty of the location, but the psychological landscape of the lead.”
Best Documentary Feature: Andrew H. Brown and Moses Thuranira for Between the Rains, (Kenya) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “For craft, storytelling, impact — and above all a raw, elegant coming-of-age portrait of resilience that unanimously blew us away.”
Best Cinematography in a Documentary Feature: Andrew H. Brown for Between the Rains, (Kenya) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “Combining the patience and elegance of portraiture — with the immediacy of observational cinema verite — this cinematographer truly transported us into a rarely seen world.”
Best Editing in a Documentary Feature: Mark Bukdahl and Orvar Anklew for The Gullspång Miracle, (Sweden, Norway, Denmark) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “For cleverly and adeptly taking us on an entertaining and emotionally-layered mystery that zigs, zags and surprises.”
Documentary Competition Special Jury Mention: David Gutnik for Rule of Two Walls, (Ukraine) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “For embedding us with a group of artists who refused to be stripped of their heritage and cultural expression, we would like to give a special jury mention for human rights and artistic expression to Rule of Two Walls.”
BEST NEW NARRATIVE DIRECTOR AWARD
Sponsored by Canva
Hugo Ruiz for One Night With Adela, (Spain) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “When we think about what makes a great director, we think about a bold, singular vision. An artist with an ability to sustain a point of view, take risks and surprise us with their unique perspective. This director conjured a superb conductor’s ability to reign in a symphony, delivering a highly ambitious first film that left us all affected viscerally. Unanimously. We are excited and curious to see what they will make next.”
ALBERT MAYSLES AWARD FOR BEST NEW DOCUMENTARY DIRECTOR
Sponsored by Bulleit
Jude Chehab for Q, (Lebanon, United States) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “At the end of the day the Jury chose to recognize the rising luminance of a young director who epitomizes the essence of the New Director award. “She did it all.” She wrote, produced, directed and shot this oblique and complicated family story in the closed world of a mysterious Syrian spiritual order. Her photography is gorgeous, and she speaks with the indomitable drive of a voice demanding to be heard. We are united in our curiosity to follow her development as an artist and observe what she does next.”
Best New Documentary Director Award Special Jury Mention: co-Director Nate Pommer for Scream of My Blood: A Gogol Bordello Story, (United States) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “The first Special Jury mention goes to Scream of My Blood: A Gogol Bordello Story, for the enduring use of art as a weapon against cant and authoritarianism. We are grateful to the director for translating Gogol Bordello’s rebellious joy and rage at remaining human and vibrant in the face of everything time has thrown in its path.”
New Documentary Director Special Jury Mention: Jane M. Wagner for Break the Game, (United States) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “We gave the special jury mention to Break the Game for taking the innovative risks in its execution, that its protagonist took discovering her authentic self. Within the sterile confines of an electronic universe, the director revealed the critical core of human connection, kindness and growth, which we can shorthand as the real meaning of love.
NORA EPHRON AWARD
Gabriella A. Moses, Boca Chica, (Dominican Republic) – World Premiere. “With strong visual language that drew us in, lived in performances and original magnetic storytelling, this movie fearlessly confronted family dynamics. The filmmaker expertly portrays the disparity between how the American dream is perceived outside of the US versus the experience of immigrants freshly arriving on American soil. Honoring the chaos of puberty while introducing its exploitation.”
Nora Ephron Award Special Jury Mention: Smoking Tigers, (United States) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “A film with an intimate power, captivating performances and striking cinematography. This film tenderly explores the complexity of adolescence, the immigrant experience, being a child of divorce and how familial trauma can impact romantic relationships.”
HUMAN / NATURE AWARD
Sponsored by Bulleit
Common Ground, (United States) – World Premiere. Sobering yet hopeful, Common Ground exposes the interconnectedness of American farming policy, politics, and illness. Follow the solution-driven plight of Regenerative Farmers as they make a case for soil health across the continent and beyond. Directed by Rebecca Tickell, Josh Tickell. Produced by Rebecca Tickell, Josh Tickell, Eric Dillon.
Best Narrative Short: Annie-Claude Caron and Danick Audet for Dead Cat, (Canada) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “Out of the impressive list of narrative shorts, this one stood out as a complete work that surprised, entertained, and resonated on a universal level. This film tells the story of parents trying to shield their daughter from the reality of death, but it does so with equal amounts of grounded humor and depth.”
Narrative Short Special Jury Mention: Gabrielle Demers for Blond Night, Jury comment: “Takes you on a most unexpected journey. It challenges our understanding of sexuality as told through the unique lens of disability. The protagonist gives a performance that’s steeped in authenticity and leaves an indelible mark long after the credits roll.”
Narrative Short Special Jury Mention: Annelise Hickey for Hafekasi, Jury comment: “The film threads the needle through the nuanced and complex relationship between a mother and daughter but pulls a specific focus on the divide that occurs between them when differing cultures are ignored.”
Best Animated Short: Mitra Shahidi for Starling, (United States) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “On its surface, mourning the death of a child is a challenging subject matter, but this film explores it with charm, mischievousness, and a dash of hope. The animation is immersive and stylized in the best ways. To select this as the winner was unanimous.”
Student Visionary Award: Daniela Soria Gutiérrez for Fairytales, (Mexico) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “This director brought a naturalistic style to a child’s imagination with uncanny and nuanced hints of revulsion woven into a greater story of friendship.”
Best Documentary Short: Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson for Black Girls Play: The Story of Hand Games, (United States) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “A story that has yet to be told about a vital driving force in music, culture, and society spanning multiple generations.”
Documentary Short Special Jury Mention: Devon Blackwell for Goodbye, Morganza, Jury comment: “This film is a beautiful, humanity filled portrait of a family that tells the larger American story of race, economic inequity, and home.”
TRIBECA IMMERSIVE COMPETITION
Main Competition – Storyscapes Award: Eloise Singer for The Pirate Queen: A Forgotten Legend, (United Kingdom) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “For its outstanding technical execution, immersive user experience, and unique and untold story of a nearly forgotten woman in history.”
Storyscapes Special Jury Mention: Kinfolk for Kinfolk: Black Lands, (United States) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “A profound and authentic representation of the Black experience in America, KINFOLK’s mission to bring history to contemporary audiences through AR technology not only celebrates the richness of Black culture and history in New York City and beyond, but also serves as a powerful tool for education and understanding, making it a standout contender deserving of recognition.”
New Voices Award: Terril Calder for Meneath: The Mirrors of Ethics, (Canada) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “Both a dream and a nightmare, the work incites a necessary conversation with exceptional use of craft, storytelling and unexpected use of technology with the potential to iterate in a way that undoubtedly will empower future work.”
New Voices Special Mention: Poulomi Basu for Maya: The Birth (Chapter 1), (United Kingdom, France, United States, India) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “An imaginative way to tell an everyday story in a vivid world. Presenting a shift in perspective, the project opens new imaginaries with under-told narratives. This project left us on a hook and the jury is excited to see its next steps and continued development.”
TRIBECA GAMES AWARD
KO_OP, Goodbye Volcano High, (Canada, United States) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “For how much this game felt of the moment and questions whether you should still care about anything when everything sucks — complete with doom scrolling, dinosaurs and high school band drama.”
Special Jury Mention for Tribeca Games: Julián Cordero and Sebastian Valbuena for Despelote, (New York, Ecuador) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “For how it offers a dreamlike portal into a soccer-obsessed child’s everyday life, and shows how cultural expression—whether through sports or creative pursuit—can make our lives richer.”
TRIBECA AUDIO STORYTELLING COMPETITION
Fiction Audio Storytelling Award: Alex Kemp for The Very Worst Thing That Could Possibly Happen (Wolf at the Door Studios) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “This piece is an ambitious production that drew the listener in, and had us wondering what mysteries would unfold. It was intriguing, moving, and created a strong sense of place in its audio storytelling. We can’t wait to hear the next episode of The Very Worst Thing That Could Possibly Happen.”
Narrative Nonfiction Audio Storytelling Award: Aline Laurent-Mayard for Free From Desire (Paradiso Media) – World Premiere. Jury comment: “For its delightfulness, its fresh perspective, and its deceptively-easy-sound, we would like to award the Tribeca Audio Award for Established Audio to Free From Desire by Paradiso Media. This compelling personal story has lessons and insights for anyone with a body. Aline’s evocative and charming writing was a spoonful of sugar for a deeply-entrenched problem in larger society: the ways we do and don’t talk about sexuality, and how that impacts our sense of belonging in the world.”
Independent Fiction Audio Storytelling Award: Cory Choy and Feyiṣayo Aluko for Aisha – World Premiere. Jury comment: “To listen to Aisha is to inhabit this piece and also to be a body within it. The experience that this piece provided not only gave us a firm view of the main character’s external plight, but also insight into their internal struggle and conflict through sound design that blurs the lines between reality and fiction. Aisha warrants repeat listening.”
Independent Nonfiction Audio Storytelling Award: David Modigliani for Shalom, Amore – World Premiere. Jury comment: “An unexpectedly moving narrative that blends the personal, political, and comical. Through the uncovering of family letters written decades earlier, Shalom Amore takes us on a journey across generations and continents. From the hosts’ grandparents’ first kiss and a torn stocking to the exploration of rising antisemitism in our own time.”
AT&T PRESENTS UNTOLD STORIES
Color Book, (United States) – Following the passing of his wife, a devoted father is learning to raise his son with Down Syndrome as a single parent. While adjusting to their new reality, the two embark on a journey through Metro Atlanta to attend their first baseball game. Written and directed by David Fortune. Untold Stories is a multi-year, multi-tier alliance between AT&T and the Tribeca Festival that awards $1 million dollars, mentorship, and distribution support to systemically underrepresented filmmakers to produce their films. Color Book will also be guaranteed a premiere at the 2024 Tribeca Festival.
TRIBECA X AWARD COMPETITION
Sponsored by Tubi
Best Feature: Farhoud Meybodi for Earthbound (Gjenge Makers) – Earthbound: Nzambi Matee, executive produced by Orlando Bloom, explores the life and achievements of Nzambi Matee, a Kenyan innovator and entrepreneur who is tackling the plastic waste epidemic in her hometown of Nairobi. Directed by Farhoud Meybodi.
Best Short: Rudy Valdez for Translators (U.S. Bank) – Translators, follows Harye, Densel, and Virginia, a few of the over 11 million child translators in the United States, as they translate for their parents in everyday situations. Directed by Rudy Valdez.
Best Series: Patrick Daughters for Full Bleed (Adobe) – Full Bleed, a documentary series taking viewers inside these iconic moments, going beyond the expected creator profile to explore what it takes to push boundaries, and examine how obstacles can become the conduit for groundbreaking work. Episode one of three, submitted here, centers the decade-long development of Freedom Tower with celebrated architect Daniel Libeskind. Directed by Patrick Daughters.
Best Immersive: Jamie Hewlett and Fx Goby for Gorillaz Presents… Skinny Ape (Google) – Gorillaz Presents… Skinny Ape, sets out to revolutionize the concept of musical performances by transforming the streets of New York and London into stages for two groundbreaking experiences. On December 17 and 18 fans gathered together to witness Gorillaz play in real life – actually larger than life – with Murdoc, 2D, Noodle and Russel towering over them in the midst of two of the world’s most iconic skylines. Created by Jamie Hewlett and Fx Goby.
Best Audio: Pedro Mendes for Making an Impossible Airplane (Atlassian) – Making an Impossible Airplane: The Untold Story of the Concorde, a podcast part of Atlassian’s brand evolution to be seen as a champion of open collaboration. Our goal was to tell a story that hadn’t been told before to engage audiences, solidify Atlassian’s philosophy & promise of ‘impossible alone’, and unleash the potential in each team: engineers in two different countries, with two different languages, two different units of measurement, forced together by politics. Directed by Pedro Mendes.