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2009 Tribeca Film Festival Award Winners

The award winners for the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival have been announced. We have the results: top winners include About Elly, North, Racing Dreams, and Fixer.

The winners of the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival's competition categories were announced tonight. The top awards went to About Elly, North, Racing Dreams, and Fixer: The Taking of Amjal Naqshbandi, and more awards were handed out for the best Shorts (narrative, documentary, and student visionary), the Best New York films (Here and There, Partly Private). Acting awards and several Special Jury Mentions were also announced.

Co-founder Jane Rosenthal said, "I am delighted that we have awarded films from such diverse origins, helping to launch careers, establish names and tell stories that would otherwise not be told. I wish all of the filmmakers continued success and hope that they continue to bring their works back to Tribeca."

A list of all award winners follows.

World Narrative Competition


About Elly still

Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature: About Elly

Asghar Farhadi
's Iranian mystery on the Caspian Sea captured the hearts of World Narrative Feature Jurors Bradley Cooper, Uma Thurman, Todd Haynes, Meg Ryan and Richard Fischoff: "The universality of the characters and themes and the director's riveting grasp of this story make About Elly a film that collapses barriers and deepens our understanding of the world we share.” High praise, indeed, but fully merited.
Read more: Q&A: About Elly


North still


Best New Narrative Filmmaker: Rune Denstad Langlo for North

Award sponsored by  

Rune Denstad Langlo's first narrative feature, after working in the documentary format, is a wry road comedy about a ski lift operator making his way to the north of Norway, to meet a son he never knew he had. The jurors have noted that Denstad's "consummate vision, strong grasp of story and command of the language of cinema make him a standout amidst a strong pool of candidates."

Read more: Q&A: North

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Best Actor in a Narrative Feature Film:
Ciarán Hinds in The Eclipse

Award sponsored by Delta logo (sized)

Ciaran Hinds is a character actor well known to us all, especially for his turns in Margot at the Wedding and Munich. Hinds has elevated his game with his performance in The Eclipse, a tender Irish drama helmed by Conor McPherson. The jurors believe that “Ciarán Hinds’ powerful performance explores both strength and vulnerability, while propelling and deepening the film's examination of masculinity and desire."

Read more: Q&A: The Eclipse

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Best Actress in a Narrative Feature Film:
Zoe Kazan in The Exploding Girl

Award sponsored by Delta logo (sized)

After a smattering of small roles here and there, Zoe Kazan has truly broken out with her performance in Bradley Rust Gray's The Exploding Girl, a film about a young woman during a summer home from college. "Zoe shines in this understated role," the jurors comment. "Every component of this brilliantly restrained performance displays a command of her craft that stunned and moved this jury."

Read more: Q&A: The Exploding Girl

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Best Documentary Feature: Racing Dreams

Award sponsored by Bialla & Associates

Marshall Curry's documentary is a gripping tale about young go-karters who one day dream of driving in the big leagues of NASCAR. "We reacted with unanimous, unquestioned affection for Racing Dreams," the jurors state, "and found it a completely compelling, entertaining film of incredible quality.”

Read more: Q&A: Racing Dreams

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Special Jury Mention: Defamation

Yoav Shamir's documentary analysis of anti-Semitism existing today has earned him a Special Jury Mention in this year's Festival. Examining the issue from a wide variety of angles, the accolade for this open-minded film is not surprising. The jurors state that the award is for "lifting the veil on a subject so openly discussed."

Read more: Faces of the Festival: Yoav Shamir

Fixer still


Best New Documentary Filmmaker:
Ian Olds for Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi


Award sponsored by

Olds' film about the murder of a kidnapped Afghani hired by news organizations to work in Afghanistan is a mesmerizing tale, as horrifying as it is fascinating. According to the jurors, the work is “a film about an unsavory world, and its unsavory characters, which through its superb direction, shines a light on a world unfamiliar to many Americans."

Read more: Tribeca Talks: Fixer

New York Competition


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Best New York Narrative: Here and There

Darko Lungulov's debut narrative feature about a New Yorker who travels to Belgrade is as geographically diverse and sensitive as the city of New York itself. The jurors were pleased by the fact that "it gave us not only New York, it gave us great characters, a great story, it gave us the world.”

Read more: Faces of the Festival: Darko Lungulov

Defamation still


Honorable Mention: Entre nos

Paola Mendoza and Gloria LaMorte's beautiful film is based on Mendoza's real-life experiences as a child, when her family moved from Colombia to New York City. Their sensitive depiction of issues ranging from immigration to poverty to single motherhood earned them an Honorable Mention in this year's Festival.

Read more: Q&A: Entre nos

Partly Private still


Best New York Documentary: Partly Private

Award sponsored by Medallion Financial and the Murstein Family

Documentarian Danae Elon's look at the practice of circumcision in the modern-day world, especially modern-day New York, is a gripping look at the ancient practice, as well as so much more. "There were moments in this film that brought the whole world back to New York," the jurors said. "They were uniquely New York moments."

Read more: Faces of the Festival: Danae Elon

Short Film Competition


The North Road still

Best Narrative Short: The North Road

Actor Carlos Chahine steps into the role of director for the first time to make a touching short about a man driving his father's remains back to his hometown. The jurors feel that "The director, Carlos Chahine, portrays the absurdities and contradictions of how we deal with grief through humor, freshness and subtlety.”

Home still


Best Documentary Short: home

A touching work that deals with how Hurrican Katrina affected the house he grew up in, Matthew Faust's home seems a natural pick to win the Best Documentary Short award. "It tells a post-Hurricane Katrina story in a new, inventive and poignant way.”

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Special Jury Mention: The Last Mermaids

The runner-up for Best Short Doc is this fantastic short, a film about female deep-sea divers off of the Jeju Island. The film's glimpse into a lost world is particularly eye-opening, and the jurors said that "the filmmaker provides a glimpse into a closed sisterhood—proud of their traditions, yet accepting the disappearance of their way of life.”

Student Visionary Award


Small Change still

Small Change

A film about a six year old girl hoping for the Tooth Fairy to arrive, Australian filmmaker Anna McGrath's student film Small Change is deceptively simple. The jurors state that "The filmmaker uses minimal storytelling to achieve maximum emotional impact and we commend the terrific performances of the young actors.”

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Special Jury Mention:
Oda a la Piña

This homage to a famous Cuban poem deals with a struggling cabaret dancer. Helmed by student filmmaker Laimir Fano, the film "captures the cultural rhythms and unmistakable sounds of the city to artistically portray a sense of poverty in what remains of old Havana and its beauty.”


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