The 12th annual Tribeca Film Festival (TFF), co-founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff, announced the winners of the two Heineken Audience Awards.
Two awards — one for narrative and one for documentary — were given to the audience choices for the best films. “The Rocket,” directed by Kim Mordaunt, was chosen to receive the Narrative award; the film also took top honors at the Festival awards Thursday where it received both The Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature and Best Actor in a Narrative Feature Film for Sitthiphon Disamoe’s performance as Ahlo.
Best documentary honors went to “Bridegroom,” directed by Linda Bloodworth Thomason.
Each award comes with a cash prize of $25,000.
Throughout the Festival, which kicked off on April 17, audiences have been given ballots to vote for the Heineken Audience awards.
From the press release: 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. The Rocket’s characters, mostly played by non-professional actors, embody the spirit of resilience and hope born out of a country affected by a legacy of war and undergoing a great economic change.
“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.
Bloodworth Thomason sheds light on the often-overlooked struggles that same-sex couples face as a result of marriage inequality. As this issue heads to the United States Supreme Court for deliberation, “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 “Bridegroom” director Linda Bloodworth Thomason. “Hopefully, the power of this story will propel the film into theaters across America and beyond.”