NEW YORK The Australian film "The Rocket" picked up two top honors on Thursday at the Tribeca Film Awards, winning best narrative feature and best actor for the performance of a non-professional child actor.
The film, set in Laos and shot in its native language, was directed by Australian filmmaker Kim Mordaunt. It chronicles the struggles of a displaced family led by a young boy and seeking a new home, and the suffering wrought by both war and economic globalization.
Most characters were played by non-professional actors, including Sitthiphon Disamoe as 10-year-old Ahlo, who took home the best actor prize for the film which the jury said "offers us a transcendent tale of hope and perseverance in a world that few Westerners ever have the chance to see."
Mordaunt accepted on the boy's behalf, saying "Look, I take no credit for this, he is an amazing human being."
Accepting the night's top honor of best narrative film, which was presented by Tribeca co-founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, Mordaunt said: "This award is really going to help this film ... and bring attention to the developing world, and our relationship to the developing world."
Best actress went to Veerle Baetens in the Dutch/Belgian film "The Broken Circle Breakdown," in which she plays a free spirit who becomes a grieving wife and mother in what the jury called a tour de force performance.
The film also won the best screenplay award for Carl Joos and Felix van Groeningen. The latter also directed the film.
Jurors for the 2013 World Narrative Competition were Bryce Dallas-Howard, Blythe Danner, Paul Haggis, Kenneth Lonergan, and Jessica Winter.
Best documentary feature was won by "The Kill Team," a U.S. film directed by Dan Krauss which chronicles soldiers being prepared to go into warfare, while best cinematography went to "Before Snowfall," from Germany and Norway.
Awards for new directors were won by Canada's Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais for "Whitewash" and American Sean Dunne for "Oxyana," for narrative films and documentaries respectively.
Among short films, "Coach," which was executive-produced by Whoopi Goldberg, won for documentaries while Italy's "The Nightshift Belongs to the Stars" took the narrative prize.
The Tribeca Film Festival, now in its 12th year, was founded as a way to stoke business and arts production in New York following the September 11, 2001, attacks which killed nearly 3,000 people in the city.
This year visitors to the festival's website voted for winners and chose "Lil Bub & Friendz," about the Internet sensation cat Lil Bub, as best feature film.
"Sandy Storyline," an all-volunteer project that chronicled the aftermath of the killer October storm through contributions from those affected by it, won the Transmedia award.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)