War Witch, an African child soldier drama, won best film at the Tribeca Film Festival, which ended Sunday in New York. With any luck, it and other Tribeca winners, including Una Noche, will be part of the lineup at the Little Rock Film Festival May 29-June 3.
Best actor awards went to Dariel Arrechada and Javier Nunez Florian, untrained actors who star in Una Noche, the most memorable film I saw at Tribeca this year. Filmed on location in Havana -- a city of fascination for many Americans -- and directed by Lucy Mulloy, the film is about impoverished Cuban teenagers who plan an escape to Florida.
Echoing the theme of the film, Nunez Florian and another actor from the film, Analin de la Rua de la Torre, disappeared in Miami en route to Tribeca from Havana and are thought to have defected.
Rachel Mwanza, the 15-year-old lead of War Witch, was named best actress for her performance as a pregnant teenager swept up in an unspecified revolution.
Una Noche won best cinematography for Trevor Forrest and Shlomo Godder. Mulloy won best new narrative director.
Best documentary went to Nisha Pahuja’s The World Before Her, which juxtaposes the lives of Indian girls competing for the title of Miss India with those in a Hindu fundamentalist movement by Nisha Pahuga.
Dutch filmmaker Jeroen van Velzen, whose Wavumba tells the story of fishermen on the coast of Kenya, was named best new documentary director.
Audience choices for best films are Any Day Now, directed by Travis Fine, a narrative about two gay men (Garret Dillahunt, Alan Cumming) in 1970s Los Angeles who attempt to adopt an abandoned teenage boy with Down syndrome, and Burn, directed by Tom Putnam and Brenna Sanchez, a documentary about Detroit fire commissioner Donald Austin's efforts to save his city from the highest arson rate in the country.
The 12-day festival hosted nearly 400 screenings and panels with more than 95 percent attendance. A total of 89 features and 60 short films from 46 countries were enjoyed by more than 116,000 moviegoers and panel attendees, with theaters frequently at capacity.
To see a full list of winners click here.