Review: ‘The Novice’ (2021), starring Isabelle Fuhrman

June 27, 2021

by Carla Hay

Isabelle Fuhrman in “The Novice” (Photo by Todd Martin)

“The Novice” (2021)

Directed by Lauren Hadaway

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed U.S. city, the dramatic film “The Novice” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few African Americans) representing the middle-class and working-class and who are connected in some way to a well-known university.

Culture Clash: A newcomer to a prestigious university’s women’s rowing team pushes herself to her physical, emotional and mental limits.

Culture Audience: “The Novice” will appeal mainly to people who are interested in movies about blind ambition, self-esteem and how women interact in traditionally male-dominated sports.

Isabelle Fuhrman in “The Novice” (Photo by Todd Martin)

“The Novice” takes a harrowing and effective look at the dark side of being an overachiever. Isabelle Fuhrman gives a noteworthy performance as a college student who finds out the hard way that winning isn’t worth it if you lose yourself in the process. At times, “The Novice” (which takes place over the course of one academic year) can be a bit too repetitive in hammering this point into the movie’s plot. But through some striking cinematography and sound design, “The Novice” succeeds in building a very specific world, told from the protagonist’s point of view, where the protagonist’s raw emotions and single-minded ambition can be felt by viewers on a visceral level.

Written and directed by Lauren Hadaway, “The Novice” is Hadaway’s feature-film directorial debut, after several years of experience working in film sound. Her extensive background in sound can be experienced all over “The Novice,” which often uses a technique that depicts how someone often tunes out sound around them because they are focused on something else. “The Novice” had its world premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The movie won three prizes at the festival: Best U.S. Narrative Feature Film; Best Actress in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film (for Fuhrman); and Best Cinematography in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film (for Todd Martin).

If there’s a lot of “tune out” sound techniques in “The Novice,” that’s because Furhman’s Alex Dall character in “The Novice” does a lot of tuning out in her life, so that she can have a single-minded focus on whatever goal is her current obsession. Alex is in her second or third year of an unnamed East Coast university in the U.S. (the movie was actually filmed in Peterborough, New Hampshire), where she is a physics major. When she joins the university’s Ravens rowing team for women as a novice, it sets her down a self-destructive path where she becomes consumed with the goal to be the best rower on the team, no matter what happens.

Just to give you an idea of what type of person Alex is, at one point in the movie, a physics teaching assistant named Dani (played by Dilone) points out to Alex that physics is Alex’s worst subject in school. However, Alex has chosen physics as her major. Why? Because Alex is the type of person who likes being an underdog and who can prove skeptics and naysayers wrong when they underestimate her.

Alex also believes that the people who deserve the greatest rewards in life are the ones who work the hardest, not necessarily those who are the most naturally gifted, the smartest, or those with the best personalities. It’s why she continues to push herself in her physics classes and won’t switch majors, even though she’s struggling with mediocre grades in physics.

Whereas most university students would choose a major in a subject that they truly enjoy, that’s not Alex’s way of doing things. After a while, observant viewers will notice that Alex doesn’t have a passion for physics. However, she won’t change her major because she’s the type of person who thinks that once she chooses to do something, she has to be the best at it. If she changed her major, she would consider it a “failure” in judgment and “failure” in persistence.

Alex has the same mentality when she joins the novice crew of the university’s women’s rowing team. The novices train with the knowledge that only a select few will be chosen for the university’s varsity rowing team, which is the team that competes in the official rowing matches. It’s mentioned early on in the movie that this unnamed university is an elite institution, where most of the students were top achievers in high school and probably for most of their lives.

Even though Alex has no previous experience in rowing as a sport, she approaches her training with the same “I have to be the best no matter what” attitude. For someone like Alex, she doesn’t just want to win and be the best. She wants to break records.

The trainer of the novices is an easygoing and friendly leader named Coach Pete (played by Jonathan Cherry), while the trainer of the varsity team members is Coach Edwards (played by Kate Drummond), who is more aloof and rigid than Coach Pete. A woman named Erin (played by Charlotte Ubben) is an assistant coach who works directly with Coach Edwards. Erin has a similar no-nonsense attitude as Coach Edwards, but Erin is more approachable to the students on the team than Coach Edwards is.

Alex’s best friend at school is fun-loving Winona (played by Jeni Ross), who seems as content with her life as Alex is restless with her own life. There are a few scenes where Alex and Winona hang out together, but their friendship eventually fades into the background as Alex becomes more obsessed with being the best on the rowing team. Alex does take time to have a social life, but nothing is more important to Alex than being considered a success at whatever she does.

There’s a scene early on in the film where Alex and Winona go to a party, Alex meets a guy there, and they have sex that ends too quickly because of his “performance issues.” Alex cringes and half-jokes about it when she and Winona talk about it the next day. Dating is not a major priority for Alex, and she doesn’t put a label on her sexuality.

Later on in the movie, Alex and Dani, who’ve been having a mild flirtation with each other, become lovers around the same time that Dani has moved on from being Alex’s teaching assistant because Dani got accepted into another graduate program. Dani is very sarcastic with Alex in the beginning of their relationship. But as they grow closer, Dani shows a more sensitive and caring side, and she becomes the closest thing that Alex has to a therapist.

Dani also moonlights as a singer. She and her band perform moody, somewhat experimental pop/rock music. The only reason why this aspect of Dani’s life is shown in the movie is because Dani invited Alex to see her perform at a nightclub. It’s during this date that Dani and Alex acknowledge their sexual attraction to each other, and they sleep together for the first time as as a result of that date.

Alex stands out from the other novices because she’s the one who works the hardest. And so by October, which viewers can assume is just a month or two after Alex joined the team of novice rowers, Alex is selected to be on the varsity team. The varsity team will be doing a regatta in the following week. It’s not a lot of time to prepare, but Alex is up for the challenge.

In every sports team, there’s rivalry among the team members. And for Alex, her biggest team rival is Jamie Brill (played by Amy Forsyth), another novice who was selected to be on the varsity team. Jamie has an athletic scholarship to attend the university, and her participation and achievements in the row crew are a condition of keeping her scholarship. Therefore, the stakes are very high for Jamie on how well she does in these rowing competitions.

Early on in the movie, Jamie confidently accepts Alex’s praise that Jamie is the best novice on the team. Jamie is also so self-assured that she defiantly ignores the attempts of the varsity team members to haze and belittle the novices. For example, during a bus ride, she refuses some varsity team members’ orders that novices have to sit at the back of the bus. When Jamie notices that Alex wants to outshine everyone, their relationship becomes a lot less cordial.

Jamie openly expresses her resentment of the rowing team’s most privileged students, whom she calls “silver spoon bitches,” because they don’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay for the school’s tuition. Because of the way that Alex guns so hard to be the top person on the team, Jamie assumes that Alex is driven by the same motivation that Jamie has: to keep an athletic scholarship. When Jamie finds out how Alex’s tuition is being paid, it leads to an explosive confrontation between Jamie and Alex that’s one of the best scenes in the movie.

“The Novice” shows plenty of ways that Alex pushes herself to be the best on this rowing team. During the first meeting of the novices, she’s the only one to take notes. She continues to take notes throughout her entire training. And she repeats mantras to herself, sometimes out loud. Her obsessiveness eventually alienates her from the other team members, a few of whom openly call Alex a “psycho.”

Her über-competitiveness takes a toll on her physically. Like any intense sports movie, there’s plenty of blood, sweat and tears. And whether queasy viewers like it or not, there’s urine. Alex pushes herself so hard during a training session, that when she collapses out of physical exhaustion, she’s so tired that she can’t get up, and she urinates on herself. In this scene, the camera pans up so that viewers can see Alex sprawled on her back, on a locker room floor, as some her teammates watch uncomfortably when Alex’s urine starts to form in a puddle around her.

The movie makes the point over and over that no one is harder on Alex than Alex herself. She doesn’t have a sadistic or overly demanding coach. She doesn’t have parents who are pressuring her to be number one in everything she does. (Alex’s parents aren’t even seen or mentioned in the movie.) And she doesn’t have a bullying rival (who’s usually the chief villain in a lot of sports movies) on another team or on her own team.

“The Novice” depicts Alex’s single-mindedness in many of the scenes where the loudest sounds are of her heavy breathing, even when she’s surrounded by other people. In the rowing competition scenes, the cinematography and Alex Weston’s musical score often have a frantic and jagged intensity, similar to a horror movie, in order to take viewers inside Alex’s increasingly disturbed mind.

Alex’s training scenes often evoke a sense of grimness and gloom. And yes, there are predictable scenes of Alex screaming at the top of her lungs when she’s by herself, just to make sure that viewers see the anguish that she’s feeling inside of herself. A pivotal scene toward the end of the movie is an example of the deep fear of failing that drives Alex to put her own safety at risk.

The movie also has several scenes of her running to get to certain places on time, as if her schedule is so packed that she barely has time to go where she needs to go. Meanwhile, there are other scenes where people such as Coach Pete or Dani gently and tactfully tell Alex that she shouldn’t be so hard on herself. She ignores any and all advice to “lighten up” and have some fun with her rowing activities. This repetition all makes it very obvious that Alex is headed for some kind of meltdown.

“The Novice” will be best appreciated if viewers know before seeing the movie that it’s more of a psychological drama than a sports drama. Whether or not Alex and her team become champions is not the point. It’s a story about what can happen to someone who thinks failure is not an option because that person wants to shut out the harsh reality that failure is a part of life.

UPDATE: IFC Films will release “The Novice” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and VOD on December 17, 2021.

2021 Tribeca Film Festival: complete list of winners

June 17, 2021

Tribeca Film Festival - white logo

The following is a press release from the Tribeca Film Festival:

 The 20th annual Tribeca Festival, presented by AT&T, announced the winning storytellers in its competition categories at this year’s awards ceremony today at Spring Studios. Awards were given in the following competition categories: U.S. Narrative, International Narrative, Documentary; Short Films, Immersive, the Nora Ephron Award, and the first-ever Podcast and Games categories. For the first time ever, Italian eyewear brand, Persol, presented the award to the 2021 Best Actor, U.S. Narrative recipient.

The awards ceremony honored the most diverse line-up of creators in Tribeca’s 20 year history and awarded $165,000 in cash prizes. The Festival, which had the honor of welcoming back in-person audiences, concludes on June 20th.

The top honors for feature films went to The Novice, Brighton 4th, and Ascension.

Chanel James and Taylor Garron won the Nora Ephron Award and a $25,000 prize for As of Yet. The award, created nine years ago, honors excellence in storytelling by a female writer or director embodying the spirit and boldness of the late filmmaker.

Tribeca honored innovation in storytelling with its Storyscapes Award, which went to Felix Gaedtke and Gayatri Parameswaran for Kusunda.

The inaugural Tribeca Podcast honors for the Non-Fiction Narrative Award went to Guardians of the River, and the Fiction Narrative Award went to Vermont Ave.

In the Games category, the first-ever Tribeca Games Award was given to Norco, created by Geography of Robots and published by Raw Fury.

“It’s been a challenging time for filmmakers, storytellers, and actors, and we’re so proud to honor the perseverance and dedication many of them displayed while working through the many obstacles that arose as a result of COVID-19,” said Cara Cusumano, Festival Director and Vice President of Programming. “Each of these recipients truly embody the spirit of our creative community.”

A special Virtual Award Winner Screenings series will be available for U.S. audiences via Tribeca at Home on Saturday, June 19 and Sunday, June 20. Tickets can be purchased at tribecafilm.com/festival/tickets

In addition to cash awards and in-kind services provided by sponsors, some award winners received the unique Tribeca Festival Art Award. Supported by CHANEL, the world-class artists donated work to honored filmmakers.

The winners of the Audience Awards, powered by AT&T, which are determined by audience votes throughout the Festival, will be announced next week.

The winners, awards, and comments from the jury who selected the recipients are as follows:

U.S. NARRATIVE COMPETITION

The Jurors for the 2021 U.S. Narrative Competition were Ana Lily Amirpour, Derek Cianfrance, Bryan Cranston, Andre Holland, and Erica Huggins.

Dilone and Isabelle Fuhrman in “The Novice” (Photo by Todd Martin)

The Founders Award for Best U.S. Narrative Feature Film: The Novice, directed and written by Lauren Hadaway. Produced by Ryan Hawkins, Kari Hollend, Steven Sims, Zack Zucker.

Art Award: Meghan Boody’s Opening Night, 2019 C Print Face Mounted to Mat Plexiglass and Back Mounted to White Plexiglass ⅖

Isabelle Fuhrman in “The Novice” (Photo by Todd Martin)

Best Actress in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film: Isabelle Furman, The Novice, directed and written by Lauren Hadaway. Produced by Ryan Hawkins, Kari Hollend, Steven Sims, Zack Zucker.
Special Jury Mention: Kali Reis, for her magnetic performance in Catch The Fair One. She kept audiences on the edge of their seats with her strength and vulnerability in a performance that always felt deeply honest.

Matthew Leone and Nisalda Gonzalez in “God’s Waiting Room” (Photo by Mack Fisher)

Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film: Matthew Leone, God’s Waiting Room, directed and written by Tyler Riggs. Produced by Tyler Riggs, Suvi Riggs.

Isabelle Fuhrman in “The Novice” (Photo by Todd Martin)

Best Cinematography in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film: Todd Martin, The Novice, directed and written by Lauren Hadaway. Produced by Ryan Hawkins, Kari Hollend, Steven Sims, Zack Zucker.

Hayley Law and Ben Rosenfield in “Mark, Mary + Some Other People” (Photo by Casey Stolberg)

Best Screenplay in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film: Hannah Marks, Mark, Mary, and Some Other People, directed and written by Hannah Marks. Produced by Hannah Marks, Pete Williams, Jon Lullo, Brendan Walter, Jonathan Duffy, Kelly Williams, Stephen Braun.

Nana Mensah in “Queen of Glory” (Photo by Anthony Thompson)

Special Jury Prize for Artistic Expression: Director Nana Mensah, Queen of Glory, for opening audiences up to an intimate and personal story, exploring cultural identity and family, with delicate nuance and humor and heart.

INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE COMPETITION

The Jurors for the 2021 International Narrative Competition were Lesli Klainberg, Melissa Leo, Delroy Lindo, Alexander Payne, and Peter Scarlet.

Levan Tediashvili and Giorgi Tabidze in “Brighton 4th” (Photo courtesy of Kino Iberica)

Best International Narrative Feature Film: Brighton 4th, directed by Levan Koguashvili, written by Boris Frumin. Produced by Irakli Rodonaya, Olena Yershova, Michel Merkt, Kateryna Merkt.
Art Award: Gus Van Sant’s Devil in Hell, 2021 Encaustic on Paper

Best Actress in an International Narrative Feature Film: Bassant Ahmed & Basmala Elghaiesh, Souad, directed by Ayten Amin, written by Mahmoud Ezzat, Ayten Amin. Produced by Sameh Awad.

Levan Tediashvili in “Brighton 4th” (Photo courtesy of Kino Iberica)

Best Actor in an International Narrative Feature Film: Levan Tediashvili, Brighton 4th, directed by Levan Koguashvili, written by Boris Frumin, Levan Koguashvili. Produced by Irakli Rodonaya, Olena Yershova, Michel Merkt, Kateryna Merkt.

“Roaring 20s”

Best Cinematography in an International Narrative Feature Film: Elisabeth Vogler, Roaring 20s, directed by Elisabeth Vogler, written by François Mark, Elisabeth Vogler, Noémie Schmidt, Joris Avodo. Produced by Laurent Rochette.

Nadezhda Mikhalkova and Giorgi Tabidze in “Brighton 4th” (Photo courtesy of Kino Iberica)

Best Screenplay in an International Narrative Feature Film: Boris Frumin, Brighton 4th, directed by Levan Koguashvili, written by Boris Frumin, Levan Koguashvili. Produced by Irakli Rodonaya, Olena Yershova, Michel Merkt, Kateryna Merkt.

Special Jury Mention: Cast ensemble of Roaring 20s, for their characters and dialogue both written and improvised seamlessly that provide a portrait timeless and true.

The Jurors for the Best New Narrative Director Competition were Aya Cash, Sanaa Lathan, and Chris Weitz.

Nana Mensah in “Queen of Glory” (Photo by Anthony Thompson)

Best New Narrative Director: Nana Mensah, Queen of Glory, directed and written by Nana Mensah. Produced by Jamund Washington, Kelley Robins Hicks, Baff Akoto, Nana Mensah, Anya Migdal.
Art Award: Will Ryman’s Flag, 2021 Wood, Foam, Paint

Special Jury Mention: Mack Fisher, Cinematographer of God’s Waiting Room, for his beautiful cinematography that captures the heaven/hellscape of central Florida.

DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

The Jurors for the 2021 Best New Documentary Feature Competition were Kirby Dick, Matt Tyrnauer, and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi.

A livestreamer at shoe factory in Yiwu, China, in “Ascenscion” (Photo by Jessica Kingdon)

Best Documentary Feature: Ascension, directed by Jessica Kingdon. Produced by Kira Simon-Kennedy, Jessica Kingdon, Nathan Truesdell.
Art Award: Clifford Ross’s Waterline VI, 2020 Pigment Ink on Rag Paper

“The Kids”

Best Editing, Documentary Feature: Shannon Swan, The Kids, directed by Eddie Martin. Produced by Shannon Swan.

“All These Sons” (Photo by Bing Liu and Joshua Altman)

Best Cinematography, Documentary Feature: Bing Liu & Joshua Altman, All These Sons, directed by Bing Liu, Joshua Altman. Produced by Zak Piper, Kelsey Carr, Bing Liu, Joshua Altman.

The Jurors for the Documentary Director Competition were Iyabo Boyd, Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, and Omar Metwally.

Chimelong Waterpark in Guangzhou, China in “Ascension” (Photo by Jessica Kingdon)

The 2021 Albert Maysles Award for Best New Documentary Director: Jessica Kingdon, Ascension, directed by Jessica Kingdon. Produced by Kira Simon-Kennedy, Jessica Kingdon, Nathan Truesdell.

Art Award: Jeff Chie-Hsing Liao’s View from Tribeca, 2018 Archival Ink Print

Special Jury MentionThe Neutral Ground directed by CJ Hunt, for the way their use of humor brought audiences into a difficult subject, with vulnerability, authenticity, and at great personal risk.

THE NORA EPHRON AWARD

Taylor Garron in “As of Yet” (Photo by Jamal Solomon)

The Jurors for the Nora Ephron award were Patricia Arquette, Mollye Asher, Leslie Dixon, Judith Godreche, and Sharon Stone. The 2021 Nora Ephron Award: Chanel James & Taylor Garron, As of Yet, directed by Chanel James, Taylor Garron. Produced by Ashley Edouard, Taylor Garron.

Art Award: Sheila Berger’s In Between, 2014 Pencil on Paper

Special Jury Mention: cast of The Justice of Bunny King: Thomasin Mckenzie and Essie Davis, for their outstanding achievement in acting.

SHORT CATEGORIES

The Jurors for the 2021 Narrative Short Competition were Justin Bartha, Elegance Bratton, Margaret Cho, Hari Nef, and Sheila Nevins.

“Girl With a Thermal Gun” (Photo by Cecile Zhang)

Best Narrative Short Award: Rongfei Guo, Girl With a Thermal Gun, directed and written by Rongfei Guo. Produced by Du Yating.
Art Award: Stephen Hannock’s Art Museums Take a Breath, 2021 Charcoal and Chalk on pape

Special Jury Mention: Leylak

“Navozande, the Musician”

Best Animated Short Award: Reza Riahi, Navozande, The Musician, directed and written by Reza Riahi. Produced by Eleanor Coleman, Stéphanie Carreras, Philippe Pujo.
Art Award: Curtis Kulig’s A Stern Foe of Snobbishness, 2020 Oil on Canvas

Special Jury Mention: Whoopi Goldberg was deeply impacted by the films Dirty Little Secret, directed by Jeff Scher, and Try To Fly, directed by The Affolter Brothers.

The Jurors for the 2021 Short Documentary and Student Visionary Competition section were Rashid Johnson, Tig Notaro, and Adria Petty.

J.C. Leyendecker in “Coded” (Photo courtesy of The Haggin Museum)

Short Documentary Award: Ryan White, Coded, directed by Ryan White. Produced by Christopher Leggett, Jessica Hargrave, Conor Fetting-Smith, Rafael Marmor, Marc Gilbar.
Art Award: Laurie Simmons’ How We See/Ajak (Violet), 2015

Daniel Ruiz in “Six Nights” (Photo by Dylan Krause)

The 2021 Student Visionary Award: Robert Brogden, Six Nights, directed and written by Robert Brogden. Produced by Robert Brogden, Kelley Zincone, Izrael Lopez.
Art Award: Deborah Kass’s Being Alive, 2021 Medium: 9-color Silkscreen and Color Blend on 2-ply Museum Board

PODCAST AWARD 

The Jurors for the 2021 Best Podcast Non-Fiction Award were N’Jeri Eaton, Rachel Ghiazza, and Latif Nasser. Podcast Non-Fiction Award: House of Pod and Wild Bird Trust, Guardians of the River

The Jurors for the 2021 Best Podcast Fiction Award were Neil Drumming, Lauren Shippen, and Mimi O’Donnell.

Podcast Fiction Award: James Kim and Brooke Iskra, Vermont Ave.

Special Jury Mention: Brooklyn Santa

TRIBECA X AWARD

The Jurors for the Tribeca X Award were Justine Armour, David Bornoff, Morgan Cooper, Senain Kheshgi, and Emily Oberman.

Tribeca X Award: Best Feature: Dear Santa, Director: Dana Nachman; Brand: The United States Postal Service

Tribeca X Award: Best Episodic: Black Owned, Director: Rodney Lucas; Brand: Square

Tribeca X Award: Best Short: Chinese New Year-Nian, Director: Lulu Wang; Brand: Apple

Tribeca X Immersive Award: Current, Creator: Annie Saunders; Brand: Brookfield Properties

GAMES

The Jurors for Games were Elijah Wood, Neill Blomkamp, Tanya DePass, Jen Zee, and Reggie Fils-Aimé.

The 2021 Games Award: Norco, from Geography of Robots, published by Raw Fury

IMMERSIVE COMPETITION CATEGORIES

The Jurors for the 2021 Best Immersive Narrative Competition were Warrington Hudlin, Laura Mingail, and Jake Sally.

Best Immersive Narrative Competition Award: Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster, Yasmin Elayat, The Changing Same: Episode 1

The Jurors for the 2021 Best Creative Nonfiction Competition section were Diliana Alexander, Jimmy Chang, and Gabo Arora.

Best Creative Nonfiction Competition: Annie Saunders, Current

Storyscapes Award: Felix Gaedtke, Gayatri Parameswaran, Kusunda

About the Tribeca Festival:
The Tribeca Festival, presented by AT&T, brings artists and diverse audiences together to celebrate storytelling in all its forms, including film, TV, VR, gaming, music, and online work. With strong roots in independent film, Tribeca is a platform for creative expression and immersive entertainment. Tribeca champions emerging and established voices; discovers award-winning filmmakers and creators; curates innovative experiences; and introduces new technology and ideas through premieres, exhibitions, talks, and live performances.

The Festival was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in 2001 to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan following the attacks on the World Trade Center. Tribeca will celebrate its 20th year June 9 – 20, 2021.  www.tribecafilm.com/festival

In 2019, James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, a private investment company with locations in New York and Mumbai, bought a majority stake in Tribeca Enterprises, bringing together Rosenthal, De Niro, and Murdoch to grow the enterprise.

About the 2021 Tribeca Festival Partners
The 2021 Tribeca Festival is presented by AT&T and with the support of our corporate partners: A&E, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Audible, Bloomberg Philanthropies, CHANEL, City National Bank, CNN Films, Diageo, DoorDash, Fresh Direct, Hudson Yards, Indeed, Montefiore-Einstein, Neutrogena, NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Persol, P&G, PwC, Roku, Spring Studios New York, United Airlines, and Unreal Engine.

June 24, 2021 UPDATE: The 20th annual Tribeca Festival, presented by AT&T, announced the winners of its 2021 Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature and the first-ever Best Online Premiere. The first place winners of Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary Feature each received a cash prize of $10,000, sponsored by AT&T. 

Audiences were able to vote in person and online for their favorite films from the Festival, which just wrapped its 20th edition featuring 250 in-person events inside and out, and close to 100,000 attendees in all five New York City boroughs and via the Tribeca at Home online viewing portal. 

Kali Reis in “Catch the Fair One”

The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature went to Catch the Fair One, directed and written by Josef Kubota Wladyka and produced by Mollye Asher, Kimberly Parker, Josef Kubota Wladyka (United States). In this absorbing revenge thriller executive produced by Darren Aronofsky, a Native American boxer embarks on the fight of her life when she goes in search of her missing sister. 

“Blind Amibition” (Photo by Warwick Ross)

The Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature went to Blind Ambition, directed by Robert Coe and Warwick Ross, written by Warwick Ross, Robert Coe, Paul Murphy, Madeleine Ross and produced by Warwick Ross and Robert Coe (Australia). The inspiring story of four Zimbabwean men who form their country’s first Wine Tasting Olympics team and the mission that drives them to compete.

The Audience Award for Best Online Premiere went to Ferguson Rises, directed by Mobolaji Olambiwonnu, written by Mobolaji Olambiwonnu, Bradinn French, Jeff Strik-er, Kai Bowe, Daisy Moand produced by Mobolaji Olambiwonnu, Daisy Mo, Tanayi Seabrook, TJ Ode-bunmi, Lisa Smithline, David Oyelowo, Jessica Oyelowo, Nick Moon and Tamika Lamison (United States). Before George Floyd, before Breonna Taylor, before America knew about Black Lives Matter, there was Michael Brown, Jr. Six years after the fatal shooting of an unarmed Brown by a white police officer, and the subsequent days of protest, filmmaker Mobolaji Olamb-iwonnu brings a new portrait of the community of Ferguson, including Dorian Johnson, and a narrative from within the city of hope, love and renewal. 

Second Place for Best Narrative Feature went to Last Film Show,  written and directed by Pan Nalin. Second Place for Best Documentary Feature went to A-ha the Movie, directed and written by Thomas Robsahm. Second Place for Best Online Premieres went to Venus as a Boy, directed and written by Ty Hodges. 

The Tribeca Festival is curated by Festival Director and VP of Programming Cara Cusumano; Artistic Director Frédéric Boyer; VP of Filmmaker Relations & Shorts Programming Sharon Badal; Senior Programmer and VP of Immersive Loren Hammonds; VP of Games Casey Baltes; Senior Programmers Liza Domnitz (features, TV, and NOW), and Lucy Mukerjee (features); Programmers Ben Thompson (shorts), José F. Rodriguez (features); Karen McMullen (features), Leah Sarbib (podcasts); and program advisor Paula Weinstein, along with a team of associate programmers.