Tribeca Film Festival: ‘Diane,’ ‘Smuggling Hendrix,’ ‘Island of the Hungry Ghosts’ Take Top Jury Awards

Writer and director Nia DaCosta took home the Nora Ephron Award for her film “Little Woods”

The Tribeca Film Festival announced the 2018 Jury Award winners Thursday night, and director Kent Jones took home the top prize.

Jones, a first-time narrative director and writer, won the Founders Award for best narrative feature and best screenplay in the U.S. narrative feature film category for his film “Diane.”

The film, which had its world premiere at the festival, is about a devoted friend and caretaker,  Diane, who is left to reckon with past choices and long-dormant memories as those around her begin to drift away in the last quarter of her life.

“After careful consideration we have chosen a film that we believe encompasses the beauty, aesthetic, as well as the powerful themes of love, struggle, life, death, and womanhood that are the spirit of this year’s Festival,” the jury said in detailing its decision.

“Smuggling Hendrix” won for best international narrative feature, and “Island of the Hungry Ghosts” won for best documentary feature.

The Nora Ephron Award went to writer and director Nia DaCosta for her film “Little Woods,” starring Tessa Thompson. The award was created six years ago to honor excellence in storytelling by female writers and directors who embody the spirit and boldness of the late filmmaker.

“It is rewarding to honor films that tell important stories and moved our juries in profound way,” commented Jane Rosenthal, CEO, Executive Chair, and Co-Founder, Tribeca Film Festival. “Whether they excite, incite, inspire or simply entertain, it is a privilege to launch this worthy group with this special honor at Tribeca.”

Below is a full list of winners.

U.S. NARRATIVE COMPETITION WINNERS:

“Diane,” directed and written by Kent Jones. Produced by Luca Borghese, Ben Howe, Caroline Kaplan, Oren Moverman. (USA) – World Premiere. Diane is a devoted friend and caretaker,  particularly to her drug-addicted son. But as those around her begin to drift away in the last quarter of her life, she is left to reckon with past choices and long-dormant memories in this haunting character study. With Mary Kay Place, Jake Lacy, Estelle, Andrea Martin, Deirdre O’Connell, Glynis O’Connor, Phyllis Somerville, Joyce Van Patten.

“Duck Butter,” directed by Miguel Arteta, written by Miguel Arteta, Alia Shawkat. Produced by Mel Eslyn, Natalie Qasabian. (USA) – World Premiere. Two women, jaded by dishonest and broken relationships, make a pact to spend 24 uninterrupted hours together, having sex on the hour. Their romantic experiment intends to create a new form of intimacy, but it doesn’t quite go as planned. With Alia Shawkat, Laia Costa, Hong Chau, Kate Berlant, Kumail Nanjia.

“O.G.,” directed by Madeleine Sackler, written by Stephen Belber. Produced by Madeleine Sackler, Boyd Holbrook. (USA) – World Premiere. An inmate entering the final weeks of a twenty-plus-year sentence must navigate between old loyalties and a new protégé, while he also grapples with the looming uncertainty of his return to life outside bars. With Jeffrey Wright, William Fichtner, Theothus Carter, Mare Winningham, Boyd Holbrook, David Patrick Kelly.

INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE COMPETITION WINNERS:

“Obey,” directed and written by Jamie Jones. Produced by Emily Jones, Ross Williams. (UK) – World Premiere. In the midst of the London riots, Leon grapples with the stark reality of his life and his relationship with his alcoholic mother while falling in love for the first time. With Marcus Rutherford, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Sam Gittens, T’Nia Miller, James Atwell.

 “The Saint Bernard Syndicate,” directed by Mads Brugger, written by Lærke Sanderhoff. Produced by Emilie Lebech Kaae, Jakob Kirstein Høgel. (Denmark) – World Premiere. Subversive satirist Mads Brugger’s latest is an odd-couple comedy about the pitfalls of striking out into the economic frontier; it charts two hapless Danes’ scheme to sell Saint Bernards to China’s middle class.

“Smuggling Hendrix,” directed and written by Marios Piperides. Produced by Janine Teerling, Marios Piperides, Thanassis Karathanos, Martin Hampel, Costas Lambropoulos. (Cyprus, Germany, and Greece) – World Premiere. Though caught between the mob and border patrol, washed-up musician Yiannis must put his plans to leave Cyprus on hold his when his beloved dog escapes across the wall to the island’s Turkish side. With Adam Bousdoukos, Fatih Al, Vicky Papadopoulou, ?-zgür Karadeniz.

 “Virgins (Vierges),” directed by Keren Ben Rafael, written by Keren Ben Rafael, Elise Benroubi. Produced by Caroline Bonmarchand. (France, Israel, Belgium) – World Premiere. Teenage Lana is languishing in her run-down hometown on Israel’s sun-soaked north coast–until an older, attractive writer arrives with tales of a mermaid sighting off the shore of the declining resort town. With Joy Rieger, Evgenia Dodina, Michael Aloni, Manuel Elkaslassy Vardi, Rami Heuberger.

DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION WINNERS:

“Island of the Hungry Ghosts,” directed and written by Gabrielle Brady. Produced by Alexander Wadouh, Samm Haillay, Alex Kelly, Gizem Acarla, Gabrielle Brady. (Australia, Germany, UK) – World Premiere. Christmas Island, Australia is home to one of the largest land migrations on earth–that of forty million crabs journeying from jungle to sea. But the jungle holds another secret: a high-security facility that indefinitely detained individuals seeking asylum.

“Tanzania Transit,” directed by Jeroen van Velzen, written by Jeroen van Velzen, Esther Eenstroom. Produced by Digna Sinke. (Netherlands) – World Premiere. A train journey across Tanzania captures a microcosm of contemporary African society in Tribeca alum Jeroen van Velzen’s captivating and visually stunning road movie.
“When Lambs Become Lions,” directed by Jon Kasbe. Produced by Jon Kasbe, Innbo Shim, Tom Yellin, Andrew Harrison Brown. (USA) – World Premiere. In the Kenyan bush, a crackdown on ivory poaching forces a silver-tongued second-generation poacher to seek out an unlikely ally in this fly-on-the-wall look at both sides of the conservation divide.

BEST NEW NARRATIVE DIRECTOR WINNER:

“To Dust,” directed by Shawn Snyder, written by Shawn Snyder, Jason Duran. Produced by Emily Mortimer, Alessandro Nivola, Ron Perlman, Josh Crook, Scott Lochmus. (USA) – World Premiere, Feature Narrative. Traumatized by the death of his wife, a Hasidic cantor obsesses over how her body will decay. He seeks answers from a local biology professor in this, unlikeliest of buddy comedies. With Geza Rohrig, Matthew Broderick.

 BEST NEW DOCUMENTARY DIRECTOR WINNER:

“Bathtubs Over Broadway,” directed by Dava Whisenant, written by Ozzy Inguanzo, Dava Whisenant. Produced by Amanda Spain, Dava Whisenant, Susan Littenberg. (USA) – World Premiere, Feature Documentary. Comedy writer Steve Young’s assignment to scour bargain-bin vinyl for a Late Night segment becomes an unexpected, decades-spanning obsession when he stumbles upon the strange and hilarious world of industrial musicals in this musical-comedy-documentary. With David Letterman, Chita Rivera, Martin Short, Susan Stroman, Sheldon Harnick, Jello Biafra.

SHORT FILM COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

“Late Afternoon,” directed and written by Louise Bagnall. (Ireland) – New York Premiere, Short Narrative. Disconnected from the world around her, Emily drifts back through her own memories, looking to her past in order to fully embrace her present. With Fionnula Flanagan, Niamh Moyles, Lucy O’Connell, Michael McGrath.

“The Life of Esteban (Het Leven van Esteban),” directed and written by Inès Eshun. (Belgium) – International Premiere, Short Narrative. Esteban, a future Olympic swimmer, has grown up with a single mother and doesn’t know who his father is. As he searches for his identity in this poetic short film, he determines swimming is a metaphor for life itself. With Noah Mavuela, Mathis Mavuela, Joshua Tassin, Tine Cartuyvels, Goua Grovogui, Lamine Diouf. In Dutch with English subtitles.

“Notes from Dunblane: Lessons from a School Shooting,” directed by Kim Snyder. (USA) – World Premiere, Short Documentary. Following the Sandy Hook Massacre, a priest from Dunblane, Scotland reaches out to Father Bob offering support 16 years after a school shooting in his own town. The men bond over personal trauma and responsibilities… In the aftermath the UK reformed its gun laws; the US responded with inaction. With Monsignor Bob Weiss, Monsignor Basil O’Sullivan.

“Phone Duty (?”ежурство),” directed and written by Lenar Kamalov. (Russia) – World Premiere, Short Narrative. A Donbass rebel fighter, whose nom de guerre is Cat, receives orders to sit on phone duty–which, he quickly learns, is not as easy as it first seems. With Zakhar Prilepin, Oleg Chernov, Gleb Kornilov, Mikhail Sivorin, Yuriy Maslak. In Russian with English subtitles.

STORYSCAPES AWARD

“Hero” (New York Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Navid Khonsari, Vassiliki Khonsari, Brooks Brown

Key Collaborators: Mark Harwood, Sinclair Fleming, Andres Perez-Duarte, Sam Butin, iNK Stories, Starbreeze Studios,Thea Ulrich

This powerfully immersive, large-scale, multi-sensory installation explores humanity in our modern era of civilian warfare. When everyday life is disrupted by a barrel bomb falling from the sky, provoking a profound crisis in this vérité virtual-reality experience, only connection among humans can inspire hope, and participants must embark on a visceral hero’s journey. Cast: Masoume Khonsari, Perla Daoud, Samer Sakka, Sam Sako, Said Faraj, Sue Shaheen

THE NORA EPHRON AWARD

“Little Woods,” directed and written by Nia DaCosta. Produced by Rachael Fung, Gabrielle Nadig. (USA) – World Premiere. In this dramatic thriller set in the fracking boomtown of Little Woods, North Dakota, two estranged sisters are driven to extremes when their mother dies, leaving them with one week to pay back her mortgage. With Tessa Thompson, Lily James, Luke Kirby, James Badge Dale, Lance Reddick.