The 16th Annual Tribeca Film Festival Announces Juried Awards – Take Home Top Awards ‘Keep the Change’, ‘Son of Sofia’, and ‘Bobbi Jene ‘

The top awards at the 16th Tribeca Film Festival. sponsors AT&T, CHANEL, CNN Films, Netflix, and Nutella

Samantha Elisofon as Sarah Silverstein and Brandon Polansky as David Cohen in KEEP THE CHANGE. Photographer: Giacomo Belletti. Courtesy: Tribeca 2017
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The top awards at the 16th Tribeca Film Festival presented by AT&T went to ‘Keep the Change’ for Best U.S. Narrative, ‘Son of Sofia’ for Best International Narrative, ‘Bobbi Jene’ for Best Documentary, ‘Treehugger’: Wanona Wins Storyscapes Award (For the fifth year, Tribeca awarded innovation in storytelling), and ‘The Divine Order’  which won the 5th Annual Nora Ephron Prize.  The awards ceremony was on April the 27th at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center.  All winning films will be screened on the last day of the festival.

‘Keep the Change’ for Best U.S. Narrative:’ Directed and written by Rachel Israel. (USA) – World Premiere. In a support group, David a smooth talker struggling to hide his disability meets a woman with similar learning challenges, and they quickly forge an intimate bond. Starring a cast of nonprofessional actors on the autism spectrum, Keep the Change details an underrepresented community with authenticity, optimism, and humor. With Brandon Polansky, Samantha Elisofon, Nicky Gottlieb, Will Deaver, Jessica Walter, Tibor Feldman.”

Best U.S. Narrative. Tribeca 2017. Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival.
Samantha Elisofon as Sarah Silverstein and Brandon Polansky as David Cohen in KEEP THE CHANGE. Photographer: Giacomo Belletti. Courtesy: Tribeca 2017

‘Son of Sofia’ for Best International Narrative:  Directed and written by Elina Psykou. (Greece, France, Bulgaria). World Premiere. Set during the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, 11-year-old Misha is traveling from Russia to live with his mother in Athens in the home of an elderly Greek man she works for. When he learns this man is actually his new father, Misha runs away but doesn’t have the stomach for life on the streets. Returning to his new home, he clings to the stories he grew up with, melding them with reality to create a dark urban fairytale. With Viktor Khomut, Valery Tcheplanowa, Thanasis Papageorgiou, Artemis Havalits, Christos Stergioglou, Iro Maltezou. In Greek, Russian with subtitles.

Directed and written by Elina Psykou. Courtesy of Tribeca 2017
‘Son of Sofia’ fill still Courtesy of Tribeca 2017

‘Bobbi Jene’ for Best Documentary: Directed by Elvira Lind and written by Elvira Lind, Adam Nielsen. (Denmark, Israel, USA) – World Premiere. In her moving and cinematic documentary, Elvira Lind follows American dancer Bobbi Jene Smith as she makes the decision of a lifetime. Bobbi returns to the U.S., leaving behind a loving boyfriend and a successful 10-year run as a star dancer of the famous Israeli dance company Batsheva. Lind intimately portrays Bobbi’s rigorous creative process as she starts fresh in San Francisco, while still working to maintain a long-distance relationship.

Directed by Elvira Lind. ‘Bobbi Jene’ for Best Documentary. Courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival
Bobbi Jene and Or taking a nap in the dessert outside Tel Aviv. Film still from ‘BOBBI JENE’ Courtesy of Tribeca 2017

Treehugger’ Wanona Wins Storyscapes Award: This is an interactive installation that combines today’s cultural hunger for beautiful immersive experiences with art, science, data, environmentalism and technology. Centered on a vast sculpture of a giant redwood tree, the viewer dons a VR headset, places their head into the tree’s knot and is transported into its secret inner world. The longer someone hugs the tree, the deeper they drift into tree time: a hidden dimension that lies just beyond the limit of our senses.

BarneySteel.- Treehugger. Courtesy Tribeca 2017
ErsinHanErsin .Treehugger. Courtesy Tribeca 2017
Robin McNicholas.Treehugger. Courtesy of Tribeca 2017
The inner systems of the canopy of a Giant Sequoia. Project still from TREEHUGGER: WAWONA. Image credit: Marshmallow Laser Feast. Courtesy of Tribeca 2017

‘The Divine Order’ Wins The Nora Ephron Prize: directed and written by Petra Volpe. (Switzerland) – International Premiere. Political leaders in Switzerland cited ‘Divine Order’ as the reason why women still did not have the right to vote as late as 1970. Director Petra Volpe explores this surprising history through the story of Nora, a quiet housewife from a quaint village searching for the fierce suffragette leader inside her. With Marie Leuenberger, Max Simonischek, Rachel Braunschweig, Sibylle Brunner, Marta Zoffoli, Bettina Stucky. In Swiss-German with subtitles.

‘The Divine Order’ directed and written by Petra Volpe. Courtesy of Tribeca 2017
Marie Leuenberger as Nora in THE DIVINE ORDER. Photographer: Daniel Ammann. Courtesy of Tribeca 2017

In addition to cash awards and in-kind services provided by sponsors including AT&T, CHANEL, CNN Films, Netflix, and Nutella. The Festival presented the winners with original pieces of art created by contemporary artists: Urs Fischer, Walton Ford, John Giorno, Ella Kruglyanskaya, Jorge Pardo, R.H. Quaytman, Sterling Ruby, Aurel Schmidt, Ryan Sullivan, as well as longtime supporter Stephen Hannoc

This year TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL included 97 feature-length films, 57 short films, and 30 immersive storytelling projects from 41 countries.  

The awards were distributed in the following feature film competition categories: U.S. Narrative, International Narrative, Documentary, New Narrative Director, The Albert Maysles New Documentary Director, and the Nora Ephron Prize, honoring a woman writer or director.  Awards were also given in the short film categories: Narrative, Documentary, Student Visionary and Animation.

The winners of the Audience Awards, powered by AT&T, which are determined by audience votes throughout the Festival via the Festival app, will be announced on April 29.

Full list of Tribeca’s 2017


The Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature – ‘Keep the Change’, written and directed by Rachel Israel.

Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film – “Alessandro Nivola” in One Percent More Humid.

Best Actress in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film – “Nadia Alexander” in Blame.

Best Cinematography in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film – Cinematography by Chris Teague for ‘Love After Love.’

Best Screenplay in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film – ‘Abundant Acreage Available’ written by Angus MacLachlan.


The Best International Narrative Feature – ‘Son of Sofia’ (O Gios tis Sofias) written and directed by Elina Psykou (Greece, Bulgaria, France).

Best Actor in an International Narrative Feature Film – “Guillermo Pfening” in Nobody’s Watching (Nadie Nos Mira) (Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, USA, Spain).

Best Actress in an International Narrative Feature Film – “Marie Leuenberger” in The Divine Order (Die göttliche Ordnung) (Switzerland).

Best Cinematography in an International Narrative Feature Film – Cinematography by Mart Taniel for November (Estonia, Netherlands, Poland).

Best Screenplay in an International Narrative Feature Film – ‘Ice Mother’ (Bába z ledu) written by Bohdan Sláma (Slovakia, France).


Best Documentary Feature – ‘Bobbi Jene’, directed by Elvira Lind (USA, Denmark, Israel).

Best Documentary Cinematography – Cinematography by “Elvira Lind” for Bobbi Jene (USA, Denmark, Israel).

Best Documentary Editing – Editing by “Adam Nielson” for Bobbi Jene (USA, Denmark, Israel).

Special Jury Mention – ‘True Conviction’.


Best New Narrative Director – “Rachel Israel”, director of Keep the Change (U.S.).


Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award – “Sarita Khurana” and “Smriti Mundhra” for A Suitable Girl (U.S./India).

Special Jury Mention – ‘Hondros.’


The Nora Ephron Prize: “Petra Volpe“, writer/director of The Divine Order (Switzerland).

Special Jury Mention: ‘Keep the Change’


Best Narrative Short – Retouch, directed by Kaveh Mazaheri (Iran).

Best Animated Short – Odd is an Egg (Odd er et egg) directed by Kristin Ulseth (Norway).

Best Documentary Short – The Good Fight directed by Ben Holman (U.S., UK, Brazil).

Student Visionary Award – Fry Day directed by Laura Moss (U.S.).


Story Scapes Award: TREEHUGGER: WAWONA created by Barnaby Steel (Co-Founder, Creative Director), Ersin Han Ersin (artist, Creative Director) and Robin McNicholas (Co-founder, Creative Director) of Marshmallow Laser Feast.

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