Women directors win top honors at Tribeca

The 17th Annual Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, announced the jury award winners – many of which were women including first-time directors Gabrielle Brady winning Best Documentary Feature for Island of the Hungry Ghosts, Dava Whisenant winning Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award for Bathtubs Over Broadway and Nia DaCosta winning The Nora Ephron Award for Little Woods.

Running through April 29, the Tribeca Film Festival champions emerging and established voices in independent film, including female filmmakers for The Nora Ephron Award. Now in its sixth year, the award specifically honors female writer and/or directors whose film makes its North American premiere at the festival. Nia DaCosta’s dramatic thriller Little Woods (USA), set in the fracking boomtown of Little Woods, North Dakota, tells the story of two estranged sisters who are driven to extremes when their mother dies, leaving them with one week to pay back her mortgage. Jurors Joanna Gleason, Rebecca Keegan and Sasheer Zamata awarded The Nora Ephron Award to DaCosta for the film’s “sure-footed storytelling featuring an unconventional heroine who pushes past expectations of what is bravery in a woman’s life or in cinema.”

Writer Laerke Sanderhoff (Denmark) was awarded Best Screenplay in an International Narrative Feature Film for The Saint Bernard Syndicate, an odd-couple comedy about the pitfalls of striking out into the economic frontier; Tribeca jurors calling it “a comedy that manages to be truly funny and inventive in its exploration of a culture clash.”

Director Gabrielle Brady (Germany, UK, Australia) was awarded Best Documentary Feature for Island of the Hungry Ghosts, detailing one of the planet’s largest land migrations of crabs journeying across Australia’s Christmas Island. Jurors called it, “A film that moved us deeply, impressed us immensely, and made us feel we were witnessing nothing less than the emergence, fully formed, of a major new cinematic talent.”

Director Dava Whisenant (USA) won the Albert Maysles Documentary Award for Bathtubs Over Broadway, awarded for “the story, the specific subject, the journey into a world we never knew existed.” Written by Ozzy Inguanzo, the musical-comedy documents comedy writer Steve Young’s assignment to scour bargain-bin vinyl for a Late Night segment which becomes an unexpected, decades-spanning obsession of industrial musicals.

Roller-rink documentary from Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler, United Skates, won the top audience awards while Ondi Timoner’s Mapplethorpe was a runner up for the Audience Award. Read FF2 Media’s interview HERE.

Alia Shawkat won Best Actress in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film for her film Duck Butter (which she co-wrote with director Miguel Arteta). Read FF2 Media’s review of the film HERE. Jeffrey Wright was awarded Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film for director Madeleine Sackler’s O.G. (Read FF2 Media interview with Sackler HERE). Best Actress in an International Narrative Feature Film went to Joy Rieger for her role in writer/director Karen Ben Rafael’s Virgins.  

Founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2001, the Tribeca Film Festival was created to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan following the attacks on the World Trade Center. Now in its 17th year, it is now a destination for the cinematic experience and how art can unite communities. www.tribecafilm.com/festival

© Brigid K. Presecky (4/27/18) FF2 Media

Photos: Tessa Thompson and Lily James in Little Woods (2018) courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Middle Photo: Tessa Thompson, Lily James, and Nia DaCosta at TFF for Little Woods (2018) Photo by Ilya S. Savenok – © 2018 Getty Images

Bottom Photo: Duck Butter courtesy of Duplass Brothers Productions

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Brigid Presecky began her career in journalism at Chicago's Goodman Theatre. In 2008, she joined FF2 Media as a part-time film critic and multimedia editor. Receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Bradley University, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked in development, production and publicity for Berlanti Productions, Entertainment Tonight and Warner Bros. Studios, respectively. Returning to her journalistic roots in Chicago, she is now a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and certified Rotten Tomatoes Film Critic.
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