'When We Leave' tops Tribeca fest awards

'Monica & David,' 'Gainsbourg' also take top honors

NEW YORK -- Feo Aladag's German drama "When We Leave," starring Sibel Kekilli as an abused wife, took home best feature and actress honors Thursday at the ninth annual Tribeca Film Festival.

Other top World Competition honors went to Alexandra Codina's Down syndrome study "Monica & David" for best doc and "Gainsbourg, je t'aime ... moi non plus" star Eric Elmosnino for best actor.

In the New York Competition, Dana Adam Shapiro's relationship drama "Monogamy" was named best New York narrative, and C. Scott Willis' family portrait "The Woodmans" took home best New York doc. Winners in these and other categories divvied up more than $150,000 in cash and prizes during the W Union Square Hotel ceremony.

Although no distribution deals have closed for "Monogamy" or other available titles during the fest, which ends Sunday, there was a ray of light in the sales market.

Talks are under way for Sony Music Entertainment to distribute the Billy Joel rockumentary "Last Play at Shea," with a limited theatrical rollout possibly handled by sister distributor Sony Pictures Classics, largely contingent on an agreement over the film's marketing budget.

Kim Chapiron won best new narrative filmmaker for the French teen prison drama "Dog Pound," which, like several Tribeca titles, was shown in February in the Berlin marketplace and gained acquisition-market heat from New York critics. Clio Barnard earned the best new documentary filmmaker award for "The Arbor," a study of a U.K. housing project.

Best actress Kekilli launched a string of F-bombs when her thoughts and English failed her onstage, then asked if the award would be taken away from her for her faux pas.

While presenting the best actor and actress awards, Hope Davis said she and her fellow jurors asked late Wednesday night if they could present the first-ever ensemble award, but were told it was too late to make a change in the program. '

"If there were an award," she said, "we would give it to the incredible young cast of 'Dog Pound.'" The film's director, Chapiron, accepted his award from France via a Skype connection.

This year marked the first Tribeca Film Festival Virtual, a weeklong online program streaming eight features and other content for passholders. Viewers voted J.B. Ghuman Jr.'s hermaphrodite comedy "Spork" best feature and Melanie Schiele's "Delilah, Before" best short.

SPC co-president Michael Barker said the crop of titles available for acquisition this year is of similar quality to past years, but he doesn't blame the economic climate for a lack of quick sales.

"Tribeca has always had a diverse group of films, but they're the kind of films that require time and thought on the part of the distributor, which is why you'll see more sales after the festival," he said.

One of the fest's hottest titles, Alex Gibney's work-in-progress untitled Eliot Spitzer film, won't be closing a deal until more distribution executives see the doc next week.

Although Barker, Apparition's Bob Berney and other distribution heads haven't had a chance to log on to the Virtual Festival, some junior execs have streamed the features available for distribution -- a few even viewed them from out of town. (All were U.S.-based as the webcasts were available only domestically because of piracy protection.) Because fewer buyers attend Tribeca than Sundance, Cannes or Toronto, the new program could extend the sales reach of films looking for the right buyer.

"I would prefer to see films at the festival with an audience, but it was a really nice option when I found I wasn't going to be able to make it to New York," said Los Angeles-based Apparition acquisitions exec Vincent Scordino, who screened Ed Burns' comedy "Nice Guy Johnny" on the Virtual site. Other than one moment where a "hiccup" in the video caused him concern, he felt the sound and picture quality were fine.

Also during the Thursday night ceremony, special jury mentions were given to Ferzan Ozpetek's gay-sibling dramedy "Loose Cannons" in the world narrative feature competition, Julia Bacha's Israel-Palestine conflict study "Budrus" in the world documentary feature competition, and Melissa Leo for her performance in Travis Fine's drama "The Space Between" in the New York narrative competition.

Bekhi Sibiya's South African drama "Father Christmas Doesn't Come Here" won best narrative short, Travis Senger's "White Lines & the Fever: The Death of DJ Junebug" won best documentary short, and Maggie Kiley's "Some Boys Don't Leave" won the Student Visionary Award.

The world competition winners for narrative and documentary films were chosen from 12 narrative and 12 doc features from 20 countries. Two awards were given to honor New York films, which were chosen from seven narrative and six doc features.

Fest included 85 features and 47 short films from 38 countries. The Heineken Audience Award will be announced Saturday during the fest's wrap party, and all winners screen Sunday at the Village East Cinemas.

A complete list of winners can be found on the next page.

Tribeca Film Festival Award Winners

World Competition Categories

The Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature
"When We Leave" (Die Fremde), directed and written by Feo Aladag

Special Jury Mention
"Loose Cannons," directed by Ferzan Ozpetek and written by Ozpetek and Ivan Cotroneo

Best New Narrative Filmmaker
Kim Chapiron for "Dog Pound," written by Kim Chapiron and Jeremie Delon

Best Actor in a Narrative Feature Film
Eric Elmosnino as Serge Gainsbourg in "Gainsbourg, Je t'Aime ... Moi Non Plus," directed and written by Joann Sfar

Best Actress in a Narrative Feature Film
Sibel Kekilli as Umay in "When We Leave" (Die Fremde)

Best Documentary Feature
"Monica & David," directed by Alexandra Codina

Special Jury Mention
"Budrus," directed by Julia Bacha

Best New Documentary Filmmaker
Clio Barnard for "The Arbor"

New York Competition Categories

Best New York Narrative
"Monogamy," directed by Dana Adam Shapiro, written by Shapiro and Evan M. Weiner

Special Jury Mention
Melissa Leo for "The Space Between," directed and written by Travis Fine

Best New York Documentary
"The Woodmans," directed by C. Scott Willis

Short Film Competition Categories

Best Narrative Short
"Father Christmas Doesn't Come Here," directed by Bekhi Sibiya, written by Sibongile Nkosana, Bongi Ndaba

Special Jury Mention
The Crush, directed and written by Michael Creagh

Best Documentary Short
"White Lines & The Fever: The Death of DJ Junebug," directed and written by Travis Senger

Special Jury Mention
"Out of Infamy: Michi Nishiura Weglyn," directed and written by Nancy Kapitanoff, Sharon Yamato

Student Visionary Award
"Some Boys Don't Leave," directed by Maggie Kiley, written by Matthew Mullen, Maggie Kiley

Special Jury Mention
"The Pool Party," directed and written by Sara Zandieh

Tribeca Film Festival Virtual Categories

Best Feature Film
"Spork," directed and written by J.B. Ghuman Jr.

Best Short Film
"Delilah, Before," directed Melanie Schiele