'Virgin Mountain,' 'Democrats' win Tribeca Film Festival prizes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - “Virgin Mountain,” a Danish-Icelandic film about late bloomers and first love, won the best narrative award at the 14th Tribeca Film Festival and “Democrats,” which follows the quest for democracy in Zimbabwe, was named best documentary.

Gunnar Jonsson, who portrays the 43-year-old outsider who finds love in “Virgin Mountain” was named best actor at an awards ceremony on Thursday night. Hannah Murray, the star of the Danish drama “Bridgend,” picked up the best actress prize.

“With its mixture of humor and pathos, this film captured our hearts,” the jurors said about “Virgin Mountain,” written and directed by Dagur Kari of Iceland.

“Beyond the deceptively small frame of a mismatched love story, the film deals with the issues of bigotry, loneliness, bullying, mental illness, and ultimately the triumph of the human spirit and meaning in love,” they added.

Jonsson was noted for his subtle performance, which jurors said evoked Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, while Murray was praised for capturing the “hopelessness of a lost generation” a teenager who gets involved in the ritualistic celebration of her friends’ suicides.

“Bridgend” also won prizes for best cinematography and narrative editing, while “Virgin Mountain” won best screenplay.

The documentary “Democrats” chronicles the story of two political rivals in Zimbabwe as they try to bridge their differences to create a new constitution for the African nation.

The film, by Danish director Camilla Nielsson, was cited for its important subject and “for filming in conditions where simply to be present is a triumph.”

Zachary Treitz won the best new narrative director award for the U.S. film “Men Go to Battle,” which jurors praised for its “historical and emotional authenticity.”

The Albert Maysles new documentary director award, named for the director who died earlier this year, went to Ewan McNicol and Anna Sandilands for their film “Uncertain,” about a Texas town whose livelihood is being threatened.

“Sworn Virgin,” directed by Laura Bispuri, won the Nora Ephron prize, which is named for the late writer-director and is awarded to a female director or writer.

The winners were chosen from 12 narrative and documentary films submitted by 19 countries, and the best new directors were selected from 26 submitted feature films.

The Tribeca Film festival was established after the September 11, 2001 attacks to revitalize the downtown area and help business and arts production.

Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Nick Zieminski