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Tribeca Film Festival Awards ‘The Half of It,’ ‘Socks on Fire’ Top Honors

The annual festival was postponed, but juries still chose top films across categories, including narrative, documentary, and shorts.

“The Half of It”

Though it postponed its annual in-person gathering, the Tribeca Film Festival on Wednesday handed out awards for the 2020 juried competition. Top narrative and nonfiction honors went to two queer films, Alice Wu’s coming-of-age tale “The Half of It” and Bo McGuire’s hybrid documentary “Socks on Fire,” while Jan Komasa’s “The Hater” won Best International Narrative Feature. Other winners include “Cowboys,” “Materna,” “Kokoloko,” and “Asia.”

In mid-March, festival organizers postponed the festival just weeks before it was set to bow in New York City. In the interim, some programming for the 19th annual festival was made available online, while its brass still hopes to hold a traditional festival in the coming months.

“We are fortunate that technology allowed for our jury to come together this year to honor our filmmakers,” said Tribeca co-founder and CEO Jane Rosenthal in an official statement. “Despite not being able to be together physically, we were still able to support our artists, which has always been at the heart of the festival.”

Best known for her 2004 indie hit “Saving Face,” writer-director Wu won The Founders Award for Best U.S. Narrative Feature for “The Half of It.” The film, which lands on Netflix on May 1, is a modern twist on the Cyrano story, told through the eyes of a Chinese-American teen grappling with her sexuality. “The film is so charming, it’s so energetic, it’s so fun, it’s so well-paced, it’s directed with such a sure hand, it’s a really confident film and the characters are really well drawn and the actors were fantastic,” the jury commented.

“Socks on Fire,” winner of Best Documentary Feature, sees filmmaker McGuire cast his homophobic aunt as a man in drag in an experimental film that explores McGuire’s family drama.

“The Hater,” from director Komasa, whose “Corpus Christi” was nominated for this year’s Best International Feature Oscar, explores misinformation and polarization through a Polish lens. “Incredibly relevant for today; we were really impressed by the way it portrayed a character that is not immediately empathetic but really got us into the journey and the story,” the jury commented.

Here are the rest of the winners:

U.S. Narrative Competition

Art Award: Julian Schnabel’s Le Scaphandre et le Papillon, 2007. Oil on map.

Best Actress in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film: Assol Abdullina, “Materna”

Jury Comment: “Assol just has so much compelling energy; her emotions ran so deep…we cared about her dilemma.”

Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film: Steve Zahn, “Cowboys”

Jury Comment: “Steve showed great range in playing this character.”

Best Cinematography in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film: “Materna,” cinematographers Greta Zozula, Chananun Chotrungroj, and Kelly Jeffrey

Jury Comment: “The visuals were striking and played with color, light and dark, in a very interesting way.”

Special Jury Mention for Cinematography: “My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To”

Best Screenplay in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film: “Cowboys,” screenwriter Anna Kerrigan

Jury Comment: “A beautiful portrait of a father and his transgendered son.”

International Narrative Competition

Art Award: Helen Marden’s January Golden Rock, 2020. Watercolor on paper.

Special Jury Mention: “Ainu Mosir”

Best Actor in an International Narrative Feature Film: Noe Hernandez, “Kokoloko” (Mexico)

Jury Comment: “For his raw and brave performance, taking a giant leap of faith, hand-to-hand with his director.”

Best Actress in an International Narrative Feature Film: Shira Haas, “Asia” (Israel)

Jury Comment: “Her face is a never-ending landscape in which even the tiniest expression is heartbreaking; she’s an incredibly honest and present actress who brings depth to everything she does.”

Best Cinematography in an International Narrative Feature Film: “Asia”(Israel), cinematographer Daniella Nowitz

Jury Comments: “We were impressed with how the cinematography was supporting the emotionality of the story and was allowing us to really deeply feel with the characters.” “Very simply and beautifully done.”

Best Screenplay in an International Narrative Feature Film: “Tryst With Destiny” (India, France), screenwriter Prashant Nair

Jury Comments: “How cleverly conceived and executed this script was!” “Beautifully made film.”

Documentary Competition

Art Award: Sterling Ruby’s DRFTRS, 2020. Collage, paint and glue on paper.

Special Jury Mention: “Wonderboy”

Best Cinematography in a Documentary Film: “499,” cinematographer Alejandro Mejia

Jury Comment: “The filmmakers did an incredible job of weaving this fictional story into what’s happening today with the disappeared and to marry such grand visions that cinema can only do.”

Best Editing in a Documentary Film: “Father Soldier Son,” editor Amy Foote

Jury Comment: “Such a well-crafted film from start to finish; a story that stays with you.”

Best New Narrative Director Competition

Best New Narrative Director: “Nobody Knows I’m Here,” director Gaspar Antillo

Jury Comment: “A film that felt vital and alive, and every time we thought we knew who the protagonist was or what the world was it evolved and revealed more of itself to us.”

Art Award: Rita Ackermann’s The Working Woman 3, 2018. Oil, crayon and graphite on paper.

Best New Documentary Director Competition

Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award: “Jacinta,” director Jessica Earnshaw

Jury Comments: “Incredibly engaging filmmaking,” “very moving, beautifully done.”

Art Award: Gus Van Sant’s Achelous and Hercules, 2016. Enamel on paper

Special Jury mention: “The Last Out”

The Nora Ephron Award

The Nora Ephron Award: “Asia,” director Ruthy Pribar

Jury Comment: “From the writing, to the directing, to the camera moves, to the direction for the acting, to the way Ms. Pribar told a story through non-speaking was just outstanding.”

Art Award: Pat Steir’s Untitled, 2008. Oil, pencil, ink, and acrylic on paper.

Special Jury Mention: “My Wonderful Wanda”

Short Film Competition

Best Narrative Short: “No More Wings,” director Abraham Adeyemi

Jury Comments: “It checked every box in terms of authenticity, and heart, and it was funny!” “It’s such an elegant piece of filmmaking.”

Art Award: Robert Nava: Medusa’s Walk, 2020. Acrylic, oil stick, crayon, and pencil on paper.

Special Jury Mention: “Soup”

Best Animated Short: “Friends,” director Florian Grolig

Jury Comment: “Gorgeous, sparse, monochromatic animation.”

Art Award: Stephen Hannock’s Wallsend Morning on the River Tyne, 2019. Oil on board

Special Jury Mention: “Kapaemahu”

Best Documentary Short: “My Father The Mover,” director Julia Jansch

Jury Comment: “A ‘movement’ film which frees people from the pain had the biggest impression on us and lasted through the tragedies we’re going through now.”

Art Award: Francesco Clemente’s Flag US, 2018. Watercolor and miniature on paper.

Special Jury Mention: “Welcome To A Bright White Limbo”

Student Visionary Award: “Cru-Raw,” director David Oesch

Jury Comment: “It’s rare to see in a student festival something very real with a great Macabre climax that’s really sticky.”

Art Award: Vahakn Arslanian’s Light of Airbus, 2009. Graphite on paper in artist’s frame.

Special Jury mention: “The Last Ferry From Grass Island”

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