‘Cypher,’ ‘A Strange Path’ Win Top Prizes at Tribeca Festival

“Cypher,” a drama about the astronomical rise of rapper Tierra Whack, and “A Strange Path,” which follows a young filmmaker who returns to his country of Brazil during the pandemic to reconnect with his father, won the top prizes for U.S. narrative feature and international narrative feature, respectively, at this year’s Tribeca Festival.

“Between the Rains,” a film that captures the Turkana-Ngaremara community as they contend with prolonged drought, took home the award for documentary feature. The festival, which dropped the word “film” from its name in 2021, hosts more than 600 events across New York City and hands out awards in categories including short film, audio storytelling and games. This year’s edition ends on June 18.

“We take great pride in recognizing this year’s collection of diverse, trailblazing works and creators,” said Cara Cusumano, festival director and VP of programming. “Today’s honorees are a compelling testament that storytelling across genres and platforms is on a vibrant and inspiring trajectory.”

Winners of the audience award, which are determined by votes from festival-goers, will be announced at a later date.

See the complete winners and special jury mentions below:


Founders Award for Best U.S. Narrative Feature: Chris Moukarbel for “Cypher,” (United States) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “For its kaleidoscopic use of music, created imagery and found materials, in service of an interrogation of celebrity, conspiracy culture and the nature of narrative reality itself.”

Best Performance: Ji-Young Yoo for “Smoking Tigers,” (United States) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “For this actor’s skill in holding the depth of their character’s experience with a quiet strength, vulnerability and a willingness to stay soft and open to their scene partners and camera alike.”

Best Screenplay: So Young Shelly Yo for “Smoking Tigers,” (United States) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “This screenplay pulled us into its leading characters, making us care deeply about their pasts and futures. It skillfully juggled multiple storylines and journeys with nuance, emotional honesty, deft sequencing until the final beautiful scene.”

Best Cinematography: Caroline Costa for “The Graduates,” (United States) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “From the very first frame, it was clear the cinematographer was someone in complete command of their craft. From their naturalistic approach to lighting to tight compositions, the cinematographer supported the emotional journey of the film at every turn.”

U.S. Narrative Feature Special Jury Mention: Monica Sorelle for “Mountains,” (United States) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “For its authentic, specific portrayal of a culture we had not seen on screen. A deeply emotional and empathetic portrait of a family in a changing world with brilliant leading performances.”


Best International Narrative Feature: Guto Parente for “A Strange Path,” (Brazil) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “In considering the International Narrative Feature Award, one film rose to the top with its surprising warmth and deeply compelling storytelling. We are honored to present the best International Narrative Feature award to Guto Parente for ‘A Strange Path.’”

Best Performance: Carlos Francisco for “A Strange Path,” (Brazil) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “In a slate full of compelling performances, one radiated a magnetic realism. In a brief but essential turn, this actor balanced the nuances of humanity and demanded to be watched. We happily honor Carlos Francisco with Best Performance in an International Narrative Feature.”

Best Screenplay: Guto Parente for “A Strange Path,” (Brazil) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “A great screenplay is a combination of structure and poetry. Our award is going to a screenplay that gave us not only the grief of reconciliation but a joyful expression of absurdity.”

Best Cinematography: Linga Acácio for “A Strange Path,” (Brazil) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “The winner in this category blew us away with the strength of their visual force. Cinematography that illuminates the narrative with not only the natural beauty of the location, but the psychological landscape of the lead.”


Best Documentary Feature: Andrew H. Brown and Moses Thuranira for “Between the Rains,” (Kenya) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “For craft, storytelling, impact — and above all a raw, elegant coming-of-age portrait of resilience that unanimously blew us away.”

Best Cinematography: Andrew H. Brown for “Between the Rains,” (Kenya) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “Combining the patience and elegance of portraiture — with the immediacy of observational cinema verite — this cinematographer truly transported us into a rarely seen world.”

Best Editing: Mark Bukdahl and Orvar Anklew for “The Gullspång Miracle,” (Sweden, Norway, Denmark) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “For cleverly and adeptly taking us on an entertaining and emotionally-layered mystery that zigs, zags and surprises.”

Documentary Competition Special Jury Mention: David Gutnik for “Rule of Two Walls,” (Ukraine) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “For embedding us with a group of artists who refused to be stripped of their heritage and cultural expression, we would like to give a special jury mention for human rights and artistic expression to ‘Rule of Two Walls.’”


Hugo Ruiz for “One Night With Adela,” (Spain) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “When we think about what makes a great director, we think about a bold, singular vision. An artist with an ability to sustain a point of view, take risks and surprise us with their unique perspective. This director conjured a superb conductor’s ability to reign in a symphony, delivering a highly ambitious first film that left us all affected viscerally. Unanimously. We are excited and curious to see what they will make next.”


Jude Chehab for “Q,” (Lebanon, United States) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “At the end of the day the Jury chose to recognize the rising luminance of a young director who epitomizes the essence of the New Director award. ‘She did it all.’ She wrote, produced, directed and shot this oblique and complicated family story in the closed world of a mysterious Syrian spiritual order. Her photography is gorgeous, and she speaks with the indomitable drive of a voice demanding to be heard. We are united in our curiosity to follow her development as an artist and observe what she does next.”

Best New Documentary Director Award Special Jury Mention: Co-Director Nate Pommer for “Scream of My Blood: A Gogol Bordello Story,” (United States) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “The first Special Jury mention goes to ‘Scream of My Blood: A Gogol Bordello Story,’ for the enduring use of art as a weapon against cant and authoritarianism. We are grateful to the director for translating Gogol Bordello’s rebellious joy and rage at remaining human and vibrant in the face of everything time has thrown in its path.”

New Documentary Director Special Jury Mention: Jane M. Wagner for “Break the Game,” (United States) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “We gave the special jury mention to ‘Break the Game’ for taking the innovative risks in its execution, that its protagonist took discovering her authentic self. Within the sterile confines of an electronic universe, the director revealed the critical core of human connection, kindness and growth, which we can shorthand as the real meaning of love.


Gabriella A. Moses, “Boca Chica,” (Dominican Republic) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “With strong visual language that drew us in, lived in performances and original magnetic storytelling, this movie fearlessly confronted family dynamics. The filmmaker expertly portrays the disparity between how the American dream is perceived outside of the U.S. versus the experience of immigrants freshly arriving on American soil. Honoring the chaos of puberty while introducing its exploitation.”

Nora Ephron Award Special Jury Mention: “Smoking Tigers,” (United States) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “A film with an intimate power, captivating performances and striking cinematography. This film tenderly explores the complexity of adolescence, the immigrant experience, being a child of divorce and how familial trauma can impact romantic relationships.”


“Common Ground,” (United States) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “Sobering yet hopeful, ‘Common Ground’ exposes the interconnectedness of American farming policy, politics, and illness. Follow the solution-driven plight of Regenerative Farmers as they make a case for soil health across the continent and beyond.”


Best Narrative Short: Annie-Claude Caron and Danick Audet for “Dead Cat,” (Canada) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “Out of the impressive list of narrative shorts, this one stood out as a complete work that surprised, entertained, and resonated on a universal level. This film tells the story of parents trying to shield their daughter from the reality of death, but it does so with equal amounts of grounded humor and depth.”

Narrative Short Special Jury Mention: Gabrielle Demers for “Blond Night”

Jury comment: “Takes you on a most unexpected journey. It challenges our understanding of sexuality as told through the unique lens of disability. The protagonist gives a performance that’s steeped in authenticity and leaves an indelible mark long after the credits roll.”

Narrative Short Special Jury Mention: Annelise Hickey for “Hafekasi”

Jury comment: “The film threads the needle through the nuanced and complex relationship between a mother and daughter but pulls a specific focus on the divide that occurs between them when differing cultures are ignored.”

Best Animated Short: Mitra Shahidi for “Starling,” (United States) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “On its surface, mourning the death of a child is a challenging subject matter, but this film explores it with charm, mischievousness, and a dash of hope. The animation is immersive and stylized in the best ways. To select this as the winner was unanimous.”

Student Visionary Award: Daniela Soria Gutiérrez for “Fairytales,” (Mexico) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “This director brought a naturalistic style to a child’s imagination with uncanny and nuanced hints of revulsion woven into a greater story of friendship.”

Best Documentary Short: Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson for “Black Girls Play: The Story of Hand Games,” (United States) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “A story that has yet to be told about a vital driving force in music, culture and society spanning multiple generations.”

Documentary Short Special Jury Mention: Devon Blackwell for “Goodbye, Morganza”

Jury comment: “This film is a beautiful, humanity filled portrait of a family that tells the larger American story of race, economic inequity and home.”


Main Competition – Storyscapes Award: Eloise Singer for “The Pirate Queen: A Forgotten Legend,” (United Kingdom) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “For its outstanding technical execution, immersive user experience and unique and untold story of a nearly forgotten woman in history.”

Storyscapes Special Jury Mention: Kinfolk for “Kinfolk: Black Lands,” (United States) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “A profound and authentic representation of the Black experience in America, Kinfolk’s mission to bring history to contemporary audiences through AR technology not only celebrates the richness of Black culture and history in New York City and beyond, but also serves as a powerful tool for education and understanding, making it a standout contender deserving of recognition.”

New Voices Award: Terril Calder for “Meneath: The Mirrors of Ethics,” (Canada) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “Both a dream and a nightmare, the work incites a necessary conversation with exceptional use of craft, storytelling and unexpected use of technology with the potential to iterate in a way that undoubtedly will empower future work.”

New Voices Special Mention: Poulomi Basu for “Maya: The Birth (Chapter 1),” (United Kingdom, France, United States, India) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “An imaginative way to tell an everyday story in a vivid world. Presenting a shift in perspective, the project opens new imaginaries with under-told narratives. This project left us on a hook and the jury is excited to see its next steps and continued development.”


KO_OP, “Goodbye Volcano High,” (Canada, United States) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “For how much this game felt of the moment and questions whether you should still care about anything when everything sucks — complete with doom scrolling, dinosaurs and high school band drama.”

Special Jury Mention for Tribeca Games: Julián Cordero and Sebastian Valbuena for “Despelote,” (New York, Ecuador) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “For how it offers a dreamlike portal into a soccer-obsessed child’s everyday life, and shows how cultural expression — whether through sports or creative pursuit — can make our lives richer.”


Fiction Audio Storytelling Award: Alex Kemp for “The Very Worst Thing That Could Possibly Happen,” (Wolf at the Door Studios) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “This piece is an ambitious production that drew the listener in, and had us wondering what mysteries would unfold. It was intriguing, moving, and created a strong sense of place in its audio storytelling. We can’t wait to hear the next episode of ‘The Very Worst Thing That Could Possibly Happen.’”

Narrative Nonfiction Audio Storytelling Award: Aline Laurent-Mayard for “Free From Desire,” (Paradiso Media) – World Premiere

Jury comment: “For its delightfulness, its fresh perspective and its deceptively-easy-sound, we would like to award the Tribeca Audio Award for Established Audio to ‘Free From Desire’ by Paradiso Media. This compelling personal story has lessons and insights for anyone with a body. Aline’s evocative and charming writing was a spoonful of sugar for a deeply-entrenched problem in larger society: the ways we do and don’t talk about sexuality, and how that impacts our sense of belonging in the world.”

Independent Fiction Audio Storytelling Award: Cory Choy and Feyiṣayo Aluko for “Aisha” – World Premiere

Jury comment: “To listen to ‘Aisha’ is to inhabit this piece and also to be a body within it. The experience that this piece provided not only gave us a firm view of the main character’s external plight, but also insight into their internal struggle and conflict through sound design that blurs the lines between reality and fiction. ‘Aisha’ warrants repeat listening.”

Independent Nonfiction Audio Storytelling Award: David Modigliani for “Shalom, Amore” – World Premiere

Jury comment: “An unexpectedly moving narrative that blends the personal, political and comical. Through the uncovering of family letters written decades earlier, Shalom Amore takes us on a journey across generations and continents. From the hosts’ grandparents’ first kiss and a torn stocking to the exploration of rising antisemitism in our own time.”


“Color Book,” (United States) – Following the passing of his wife, a devoted father is learning to raise his son with Down Syndrome as a single parent. While adjusting to their new reality, the two embark on a journey through Metro Atlanta to attend their first baseball game. Written and directed by David Fortune.

Untold Stories is a multi-year, multi-tier alliance between AT&T and the Tribeca Festival that awards $1 million dollars, mentorship, and distribution support to systemically underrepresented filmmakers to produce their films. “Color Book” will also be guaranteed a premiere at the 2024 Tribeca Festival.


Best Feature: Farhoud Meybodi for “Earthbound” (Gjenge Makers) – “Earthbound: Nzambi Matee,” executive produced by Orlando Bloom, explores the life and achievements of Nzambi Matee, a Kenyan innovator and entrepreneur who is tackling the plastic waste epidemic in her hometown of Nairobi.

Best Short: Rudy Valdez for “Translators” (U.S. Bank) – “Translators” follows Harye, Densel and Virginia, a few of the over 11 million child translators in the United States, as they translate for their parents in everyday situations.

Best Series: Patrick Daughters for “Full Bleed” (Adobe) – “Full Bleed,” a documentary series taking viewers inside these iconic moments, going beyond the expected creator profile to explore what it takes to push boundaries, and examine how obstacles can become the conduit for groundbreaking work. Episode one of three, submitted here, centers the decade-long development of Freedom Tower with celebrated architect Daniel Libeskind.

Best Immersive: Jamie Hewlett and Fx Goby for “Gorillaz Presents… Skinny Ape” (Google) – “Gorillaz Presents… Skinny Ape” sets out to revolutionize the concept of musical performances by transforming the streets of New York and London into stages for two groundbreaking experiences. On Dec. 17 and 18 fans gathered together to witness Gorillaz play in real life – actually larger than life – with Murdoc, 2D, Noodle and Russel towering over them in the midst of two of the world’s most iconic skylines.

Best Audio: Pedro Mendes for “Making an Impossible Airplane” (Atlassian) – “Making an Impossible Airplane: The Untold Story of the Concorde,” a podcast part of Atlassian’s brand evolution to be seen as a champion of open collaboration. Our goal was to tell a story that hadn’t been told before to engage audiences, solidify Atlassian’s philosophy & promise of “impossible alone,” and unleash the potential in each team: engineers in two different countries, with two different languages, two different units of measurement, forced together by politics.

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