Tribeca Film Festival Names 'Virgin Mountain' Top Narrative Feature

Courtesy of Berlin International Film Festival
'Virgin Mountain'

The film, a co-production from Iceland and Denmark, also took home the best actor award for Gunnar Jónsson's performance and screenplay honors for Dagur Kári.

The Tribeca Film Festival handed out its top prizes Thursday night. The best world narrative feature went to Virgin Mountain, written and directed by Dagur Kári. The film, a co-production from Iceland and Denmark, also took home the best actor award for Gunnar Jónsson's performance and screenplay honors for Kári.

"With its mixture of humor and pathos, this film captured our hearts," said the jury, which was composed of Paul Attanasio, Sophie Barthes, Whoopi Goldberg, Dylan McDermott and Burr Steers. "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."

Bridgend's Hannah Murray nabbed the best actress prize. Like Virgin Mountain, the film also hails from Denmark and won three honors, including cinematography for Magnus Jønck and editing for Oliver Bugge Coutté. Best new narrative director honors went to U.S. helmer Zachary Treitz for Men Go to Battle. The newly dubbed Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award also went to a pair of U.S. directors, Ewan McNicol and Anna Sandilands, for Uncertain.

The 14th annual festival, co-founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff, announced the winners of its competition categories at a party hosted by Michael Rapaport at TFF’s creative hub, Tribeca Film Festival at Spring Studios.

The winners of the narrative and documentary competitions were awarded from the World Narrative and World Documentary sections of the official festival lineup, which consists of 12 narrative and 12 documentary films from 19 countries. Best new director prizes were awarded to first-time directors in the narrative and documentary categories, from a pool of 26 feature films.

The top documentary award was presented to another Danish film, Democrats, from director Camilla Nielsson. Diego Bunuel, Tine Fischer, David Gelb, Joshua Rothkopf and Gloria Steinem served as the documentary jurors, who cited the film "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."

The Nora Ephron Prize was presented to Sworn Virgin, directed by Laura Bispuri and written by Francesca Manieri and Bispuri. The film is a co-production of Albania, Germany, Italy, Kosovo and Switzerland.
 
This year’s festival, which runs through April 26, includes 101 features, 60 short films and five immersive storytelling projects from 38 countries. Winners of the audience awards, which are determined by audience votes throughout the festival, will be announced April 25.

“We are proud to honor the winning filmmakers, artists and creators tonight,” Rosenthal said. “Their stories have inspired all of us — and our audiences. We thank them for sharing their work at Tribeca."

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

WORLD NARRATIVE COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

·       The Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature – Virgin Mountain, written and directed by Dagur Kári [Iceland, Denmark]. Winner receives $25,000, sponsored by AT&T, and the art award “Ash Eroded Film Reel” by Daniel Arsham. The award was given by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal joined by Marissa Shorenstein, President, AT&T New York

·       Best Actor in a Narrative Feature Film –Gunnar Jónsson as Fúsi in Virgin Mountain (Iceland, Denmark). Winner receives $2,500 sponsored by Citrin Cooperman. The award was given by Dylan McDermott and Arnie Hermann, lead partner, Entertainment Practice of the firm Citrin Cooperman.

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). Winner receives $2,500 sponsored by Citrin Cooperman. The award was given by Sophie Barthes and Pat Cummings, Co-Managing Partner of the firm Citrin Cooperman.

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). Winner receives $5,000 sponsored by Shutterstock. The award was given by Sophie Barthes and Derick Rhodes, Footage Marketing, Shutterstock.
 
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). Winner receives $5,000 sponsored by Freixenet. The award was given by Dylan McDermott and Tom Burnet President, Freixenet USA.

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). Winner receives $5,000 sponsored by Soundtrack Film and Television-New York, and $50,000 in post-production services provided by Company 3. The award was given by Sophie Barthes and Rob Cavicchio, owner Soundtrack NY.

Jury Comment: “Impeccable rhythms and expert balancing of many divergent narratives.”

WORLD DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

The jurors for the 2015 World Documentary Competition sponsored by Santander Bank, N.A., were Diego Bunuel, Tine Fischer, David Gelb, Joshua Rothkopf and Gloria Steinem.

·       Best Documentary Feature – Democrats, directed by Camilla Nielsson (Denmark).Winner receives $25,000, sponsored by Netflix, and the art award “Immersion (From the Holy River Series)” by Prune Nourry. The award was given by Gloria Steinem.
 
·       Special Jury Mention: In Transit , directed by Albert Maysles, Nelson Walker, Lynn True, David Usui, and Ben Wu. (U.S.A)

·       Best Documentary Editing – Palio, edited by Valerio Bonelli (U.K., Italy). Winner receives $5,000.  The award was given by Diego Bunuel.

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:

The jurors for the 2015 Best New Narrative Director Competition were Mark Boal, Minnie Driver, Don Hertzfeldt, Cobie Smulders, and Joana Vicente.

·       Best New Narrative Director – Zachary Treitz director of Men Go To Battle (U.S.A). Winner receives $25,000 sponsored by The Walt Disney Studios, $50,000 in post-production services provided by Company 3, and the art award “Trees II” by Clifford Ross. The award was given by Don Hertzfeldt and Joana Vicente.
          
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:

The jurors for the 2015 Best New Documentary Director Competition were Rachel Boynton, Lola Kirke, Will Patton, Alison Pill, and Michael Rapaport.

·       Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award – Ewan McNicol and Anna Sandilands for Uncertain (U.S.A).Winner receives $25,000 sponsored by Netflix, and the art award “Athena” by Elizabeth Colomba. The award was given by Alison Pill along with Philip Maysles and Sara Maysles.

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:

The 2015 Best Narrative Short Competition jurors were Hank Azaria, Mamie Gummer, André Holland, Arian Moayed, Sheila Nevins, and Dan Silver.

·       Best Narrative Short – Listen, directed by Hamy Ramezan and Rungano Nyoni (Finland, Denmark). Winner receives $5,000 sponsored by Paul Hastings, LLP, and the art award “Caw (42)” by Robert Bordo. The award was given by Sharon Badal, Director of Short Film Programming and Initiatives Tribeca Enterprises, and Luke P. Iovine, III, Partner at Paul Hastings, LLP.

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).
The 2015 Best Documentary and Student Visionary Award jurors were Steve Buscemi, Debi Mazar, Katherine Oliver, Theo Rossi, and Vanessa Williams.
 
·       Best Documentary Short – Body Team 12 directed by David Darg (Liberia). Winner receives $5,000 sponsored by AKA, complimentary time in a.cinema, AKA's private screening room, and the art award “Black #19” by Jean Pagliuso. The award was given by Steve Buscemi, Debi Mazar, and Theo Rossi.
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). Winner receives $5,000 sponsored by Creative Future. The award was given by Steve Buscemi, Debi Mazar,  Theo Rossi, and Brett Williams, director, Creative Community and Youth Outreach, Creative Future.

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

The 2015 BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Storyscapes Award, which recognizes groundbreaking approaches in storytelling and technology, jurors wereAndrew Golis, Shari Frilot, and Charlie Phillips.

·       BOMBAY SAPPHIRE  Storyscapes Award: Door Into the Dark created by Amy Rose and May Abdalla at Anagram (U.K.). Winner receives $10,000, presented by BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® Gin. The award was given by Andrew Golis, Shari Frilot, and Maria Dao, Brand Manager of House of Bombay Gin.

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 2015 Nora Ephron Prize jurors were Rachael Harris, Kevin Corrigan, Katja Blichfeld, Christine Lahti and Talya Lavie.
·       The Nora Ephron Prize: Sworn Virgin, directed by Laura Bispuri and written by Francesca Manieri and Bispuri (Albania, Germany, Italy, Kosovo, Switzerland). Winner receives $25,000, sponsored by Coach. The award was given by Rachael Harris, Kevin Corrigan, Katja Blichfeld, Christine Lahti, Talya Lavie, and Iana dos Reis Nunes, vice president of public relations for Coach.

Jury Comments: “We are awarding a film that is exquisite in its broadness and its intimacy, with a truly original story that touches on gender identity and 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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