‘When We Leave’ Takes Top Narrative Prize at Tribeca

Acting prizes go to “When” star Sibel Kekilli, “Gainsbourg's” Eric Elmosino, with special mention to Melissa Leo

When We Leave Sibel KekilliAn emotionally wrenching German drama about a woman struggling to make a life for herself, “When We Leave” (left), won the top prize at the Tribeca Film Festival. The festival's awards were presented Thursday evening at a ceremony at the Union Square W Hotel in New York City. 

The Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature was presented to "When We Leave" by Tribeca festival co-founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal. 

The movie, which had its North American premiere at Tribeca, tells how a Muslim Turkish woman’s immigrant family in Germany rejects her when she returns home with her young son after running away from her abusive husband in Turkey. 

“'When We Leave’ examines one woman’s struggle for personal freedom,” said a jury statement explaining the award selection. “It’s a theme that is often explored, but rarely told with such humanity, subtlety, craftsmanship or immediacy.”

Jurors for the category were actors Hope Davis, Aaron Eckhart and Cheryl Hines, screenwriter John Ridley and directors John Hamburg, Gary Ross and Gary Winick.

“When We Leave,” which is still seeking a U.S. distribution deal, is the first film directed by Feo Aladag, an Austrian-born actress and commercials director. It had its world premiere in February at the Berlin International Film Festival and has already opened in Germany and Austria. Gainsbourg Je t'Aime Moi Non Plus Eric Elmosino

Sibel Kekilli, “When We Leave’s” German-born leading lady, was selected as best actress in a narrative feature. She is best known to American audiences from Fatih Akin’s “Head On” (2004). 

Eric Elmosino, the veteran French actor, nabbed Tribeca’s actor prize for portraying Serge Gainsbourg, the French singer-songwriter as famous for his love life as his tunes, in the Gallic biopic “Gainsbourg, Je t’Aime … Moi Non Plus” (right).

Actress Melissa Leo received a special mention for her searing performance as a flight attendant caught up in the aftermath of 9/11 in “The Space Between,” a film competing in the festival’s New York Narrative section. 

Monica and David TribecaThe Best Documentary prize went to “Monica & David” (left), about a young couple with Down syndrome who are planning their wedding. The director, Alexandra Codina, is the cousin of the bride.

Taking home the top prize for narrative films set in New York was “Monogamy,” a romantic thriller starring Chris Messina and Rashida Jones, from director Dana Adam Shapiro. He co-directed the Oscar-nominated feature-length documentary “Murderball” (2005).

The winner of the Audience Award, a popularity contest voted on by Tribeca Festival general audience moviegoers (last year’s pick was “City Island,” currently in movie theaters), will be revealed Saturday night at the festival’s wrap party.

All of the award-winning films will be screened on Sunday; for information on where and when, go to the festival’s website.

Other Tribeca festival winners: 

World Competition:

Special Jury Mention: “Loose Cannons,” directed by Ferzan Ozpetek

Best New Narrative Filmmaker: Kim Chapiron for “Dog Pound”

Documentaries:

Special Jury Mention: “Budrus,” directed by Julia Bacha

Best New Filmmaker: Clio Barnard for “The Arbor”

Best New York Documentary: “The Woodmans,” directed by C. Scott Willis

Short Films:

Best Narrative Short: “Father Christmas Doesn't Come Here,” directed by Bekhi Sibiya

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