The people have spoken. Our team has been working tirelessly to tally up this year’s standings and we’re happy to reveal the winners of this year’s Heineken Audience Award competition.
Throughout the Festival, audiences have been able to vote for the Heineken Audience Awards by completing nomination ballots upon exiting screenings of TFF films. Films in the World Narrative Competition, World Documentary Competition, Viewpoints, Spotlight and Midnight sections were eligible.
“Our audiences have chosen two films that testify to the power of the human spirit and hope for change,” said Genna Terranova, Director of Programming. “Whether it’s the fight for marriage equality in the U.S. or a boy struggling against all odds in war torn Laos, audiences were clearly moved by these two inspiring stories
Check out the winners below and catch them in special encore screenings this Sunday, April 28, on the final day of TFF 2013.
Set against the lush backdrop of rural Laos, The Rocket tells the story of scrappy ten-year-old Ahlo, who yearns to break free from his ill-fated destiny. After his village is displaced to make way for a massive dam, Ahlo escapes with his father and grandmother through the Laotian outback in search of a new home. Along the way, they come across a rocket festival that offers a lucrative—but dangerous—chance for a new beginning. With the help of his new friend Kia and her eccentric, James Brown-loving uncle, Ahlo sets out to build his own rocket, enter the contest and prove his worth to his family.
"We are thrilled that New York audiences who are so international were so engaged with The Rocket," said Sylvia Wilczynski producer of The Rocket. "We've seen both laughs and tears at our screenings, and loved meeting everyone throughout the Festival. This award goes to people of Laos."
Heineken Audience Award Winner: Documentary
Director: Linda Bloodworth Thomason
Bridegroom chronicles the emotional journey of Shane and Tom, two young men in a loving and committed relationship. Unfortunately, their love is cut short by Tom’s accidental death, and his partner finds himself facing the failure of same sex marriage protections that leave him completely shut out and ostracized. Linda Bloodworth Thomason sheds light on the often-overlooked struggles that same sex couples face as a result of marriage inequality. As the United States Supreme Court deliberates this issue, Bridegroom is poised as a timely and moving documentary about love and perseverance through loss.
"We are shocked. We were so grateful to just be selected for the Festival; we never imagined we would win the audience award," said Linda Bloodworth Thomason, director of Bridegroom. "Hopefully the power of this story will propel the film into theaters across America and beyond.”
Cutie and the Boxer
Heineken Audience Award Second Place Winner: Documentary
Director: Zachary Heinzerling
Using boxing gloves and frequently his Mohawk as a paintbrush, Ushio Shinohara exploded onto the 1970s New York art scene. His cutting-edge work was classified as “action art” and gained much attention. During this career peak he met and fell in love with Noriko, an art student who became his assistant and later his wife. Over the years, his work garnered praise but little financial success. Now, decades later, the couple struggles to pay the rent. Ushio keeps making action art and seems trapped in the past. Noriko, like her work, is evolving and growing as she creates new paintings centered on her autobiographical characters named Cutie and Bullie.
A Birder's Guide to Everything
Heineken Audience Award Second Place Winner: Narrative
Director: Rob Meyer
Sideways meets Stand by Me in this endearing story of friendship, family and a place in bird watching’s history books. On the eve of his widower father’s second wedding, fifteen-year-old David Portnoy spots what may just be the extinct Labrador duck. Now he and the two other stalwart members of the local Young Birders Society, joined by their headstrong photographer classmate Ellen, take off on a rollicking, interstate road trip in search of a rare bird and elusive answers to teenage questions large and small.
Remember, our RUSH line policy still applies tomorrow. Congrats to all the winners!