KKK Drama 'Burden' Takes Top Prize at Nantucket Film Fest

BURDEN Still 1 -Directed by Andrew Heckler - Sundance 2018 - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Jesse Peretz's 'Juliet, Naked' got the runner-up prize, while Dava Whisenant's 'Bathtubs Over Broadway' won the best doc feature.

Andrew Heckler's Burden won the audience award for best narrative feature at the 23rd annual Nantucket Film Festival. The awards, unveiled today as the five-day festival wrapped, saw Jesse Peretz's Juliet, Naked, written by Evgenia Peretz, Jim Taylor and Tamara Jenkins, take home the runner-up prize.

Dava Whisenant's Bathtubs Over Broadway won the best documentary feature award, while Rudy Valdez’s The Sentence was named the runner-up. Irene Taylor Brodsky’s Homeless: The Soundtrack was awarded best short film, and Randall Christopher’s The Driver Is Red is the runner-up.

In addition, NFF revealed its Best of Fest selections, special repeat screenings determined by popular demand: Morgan Neville's Won’t You Be My Neighbor and Juliet, Naked.

NFF also announced the winners of the Showtime Tony Cox Screenplay Competition, which recognizes the best-unproduced screenplays and TV pilots written by emerging writers. Henry Hayes' and Zolan Kanno-Youngs’ Cambridge received the top prize as the winner of the feature screenplay competition. The Episodic Screenplay nods went to Kellen Hertz’s for Legacy and to Huong Nguyen for All We Do Is Nguyen. The Short Screenplay Competition was won by Margaret Kane-Rowe for Cinderella War.

Henry Hayes' and Zolan Kanno-Youngs’ Cambridge centers on the life of Boston Marathon bomber ‎Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, as seen by friends who knew him before the event and who struggle to reconcile their friend with the killer he became. Hayes received a $5,000 cash prize, VIP access to this year’s festival, a bound copy of his script and an exclusive spot in the Screenwriters Colony writers retreat on Nantucket for the entire month of October.

Legacy explores the unearthing of a conspiracy behind a notorious, decades-old murder at an elite Connecticut university. Hertz received a $1,000 cash prize as well as a consultation with a Showtime executive. All We Do Is Nguyen is inspired by her family’s Vietnamese-Midwestern background, centering on an overachieving grown-up daughter as she adjusts to living back in her parents’ home. Nguyen received a $1,000 cash prize, VIP access to this year’s festival, a consultation with a Showtime executive and one of only four slots in the Screenwriters Colony: Episodic Comedy, a two-week immersive writing and mentorship program on Nantucket earlier this month.

Cinderella War chronicles the story of a quiet family in Ireland who receive a hostile visit from the Irish Republican Army. Kane-Rowe received a $500 cash prize and VIP access to this year’s festival.

The Feature & Shorts Screenplay Competition jury comprised roducer Miranda Bailey (The Squid and the Whale), Deadline Hollywood's Dade Hayes and SXSW director of film Janet Pierson.

The Episodic Screenplay Competition jury comprised writer/producer Paul Eckstein (Godfather of Harlem, Narcos), showrunner/writer/producer Sera Gamble (You, The Magicians) and Screenwriters Colony executive director Lydia Cavallo Zasa.

NFF also announced the winner of the Adrienne Shelly Foundation Excellence in Filmmaking Award, a $5,000 grant to an emerging female filmmaker in honor of the late writer, director and actress and her contributions to film. This year's recipient is Nancy Schwartzman, director of Roll Red Roll, an investigation into a notorious case of sexual assault by members of a small-town high school football team.

“As our 23rd edition comes to an end, we offer our heartfelt congratulations to the winners and are thrilled the audience resonated with their incredible, thought-provoking and vibrant films,” said NFF executive director Mystelle Brabbee and NFF film program director Basil Tsiokos. “We thank all of our filmmakers, audience members, staff, sponsors and volunteers for making the festival possible and such a success this year.”

This year's festival attracted a number of high-profile industry figures including Ben Stiller and Mike Birbiglia, who co-hosted the Screenwriters Tribute Awards; director and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Noah Baumbach, who accepted the Screenwriting Tribute Award, presented to him by his frequent collaborator Adam Driver; and Burden's writer-director Andrew Heckler and star Garrett Hedlund, who appeared together for a post-screening Q&A. 

Neville received the Special Achievement in Documentary Storytelling Award, while Heckler was tapped with the New Voices in Screenwriting Award. Other festival attendees included Greta Gerwig, Thomas Middleditch and documentarian Barbara Kopple.