Musings on the TCFF 2016 Award finalists … championing indie films & women in film


I haven’t had even an hour to blog all day today as I was watching films, interviewing talents and socializing at the mixer at the beautiful festival lounge at the Shoppes at West End. My head is still spinning as I’m writing this… my body is exhausted but my spirits are high from the exhilaration of meeting so many great people. My day started with an a delightful interview with actor Dominic Rains, and got to meet Jon Weinberg (the director and star of Funeral Day) whom I had interviewed the night before. Then in the afternoon I got to meet the director of The Babymoon Bailey Kobe, as well as Kate Sloate who’s in the film’s producing team. I will post more pictures in my wrap post!

I stopped by TCFF lounge for a couple of hours, which was even busier as the night went on. For sure the closing night party tomorrow will be a blast, and I sure wouldn’t want to miss the Award Ceremony!

Speaking of award, Twin Cities Film Fest has announced the TCFF award finalists a few days ago here. I’m so thrilled for so many of these indie filmmakers, whether it’s shorts, features or documentaries, that their hard work are being recognized. For many of them, their indie films are their sweat, blood and tears… as most of these films are made with shoestring budgets. This is why I LOVE covering TCFF, as I get to see more indie films than I otherwise would in a given month! As I meet filmmakers and talents, it’s apparent to see that the limited budget/resources just made them more innovative and creative! This is why I will always support indie films and indie filmmakers!!


Best Feature Film:

  • “Blood Stripe,” directed by Remy Auberjonois
  • “Burn Country,” directed by Ian Olds
  • “First Girl I Loved,” directed by Kerem Sanga
  • “Lion,” directed by Garth Davis
  • “Moonlight,” directed by Barry Jenkins.

Best Documentary:

  • “Denial,” directed by Derek Hallquist
  • “The Eagle Huntress,” directed by Otto Bell
  • “Free CeCe!” directed by Jacqueline Gares
  • “I Do?” directed by Joe Brandmeier
  • “IRON WILL: Veteran’s Battle with PTSD,” directed by Sergio Valenzuela.

Best Short Film:

  • “Duffy’s Jacket,” directed by Brian Hoesing
  • “I Want You Inside Me,” directed by Alice Shindelar
  • “Lend a Hand For Love,” directed by John and Amy Thompson
  • “The Story,” directed by Cameron Digwall and Carolyn Pender
  • “Twinsburg,” directed by Joe Garrity.

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Feature Film:

  • “Claire in Motion,” directed by Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson
  • “The Eyes of My Mother,” directed by Nicolas Pesce
  • “Girl Flu,” directed by Dorie Barton
  • “June Falling Down,” directed by Rebecca Weaver
  • “No Light and No Land Anywhere,” directed by Amber Sealey

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Non-Fiction Film:

  • “In Pursuit of Silence,” directed by Patrick Shen
  • “IRON WILL: Veteran’s Battle with PTSD,” directed by Sergio Valenzuela
  • “Prison Dogs,” directed by Geeta Gandbhir and Perri Peltz
  • “Tarkovsky: Time Within Time,” directed by PJ Letofsky
  • “They Call Us Monters,” directed by Ben Lear

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance:

  • “Blood Stripe,” Breakthrough: Actress Kate Nowlin
  • “Donald Cried,” Breakthrough: Actor Kris Avedisian
  • “First Girl I Loved,” Breakthrough: Director Kerem Sanga
  • “Hunky Dory,” Breakthrough: Actor Tomas Pais
  • “The Other Kids,” Breakthrough: Director Chris Brown
  • “Lend a Hand For Love,” Breakthrough: Directors John and Amy Thompson
  • “Moonlight,” Breakthrough: Writer Barry Jenkins.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Lea Thompson

I’m so glad I got to chat with Lea when she was in town last month for TCFF gala. I also got to interview Jim Hemphill whose wonderfully-crafted drama The Trouble With The Truth was screened at one of TCFF’s Insider Series!

In addition to the staff and audience awards, the 2016 event is also bestowing two North Star Awards to visiting actors Tim Guinee (in town to celebrate the 10th anniversary of “Sweet Land”) and Dominic Rains (starring in three TCFF films now touring the festival circuit — the James Franco-Melissa Leo mystery “Burn Country” screening Saturday night, the neo-noir thriller “The Loner” screening Friday, and the dark comedy “Funeral Day” showing Saturday morning).

Now, I haven’t seen all of the films nominated, as there are only so many hours in a day and I still had to work at my full time job the first week of TCFF. But of the ones I have seen, I definitely agree with most of the choices! I’m especially thrilled to see SO may female filmmakers and talents being represented AND recognized. I think people who read my blog and connected w/ me on Twitter know that I’m not only a big champion of indie films, but also women in film! It’s clear that indie films are the place for women and diverse talents thrive… so I’m glad I got to see many of them thanks to TCFF!

Whether in front of or behind the camera, it always perks me up to see women storytellers, creating and/or portraying multi-dimensional, fully fleshed-out female characters and bringing their stories to life. One of my all time favorite performances is Kate Nowlin in Blood Stripeand having chatted with her in person, she is an inspiration both on and off screen!

Both Prison Dogs and The Eagle Huntress have become two of my all time favorite documentaries! I can’t review the latter until mid November where it’s released here in Minnesota, but I can’t recommend it enough. I guarantee you’d fall in love with 13-year-old Aisholpan who defied the odds to become a champion eagle huntress!

mnwiftIt’s always a blast hanging out with friends and new people you meet at TCFF lounge. But tonight is especially awesome as I got to hang out with two ladies from Minnesota Women in Film and Television (MN WIFT), Joanne Liebeler and Deborah Fiscus. I love their positive energy and warm personality, it’s always encouraging and inspiring to be around such wonderful people!

I feel so blessed to have met to these smart, accomplished, yet warm & lovely ladies, so thank you to my pal Kirsten Gregerson for introducing us! I’m definitely going to join the organization and learn from local women who work in film, television, and new media in Minnesota.

with MN WIFT’s Joanne, Deborah and my pal Kirsten Gregerson

Well, tomorrow is the last day of TCFF already! It’s a jam-packed closing day with three gala screenings: LION, Moonlight AND Burn Country, with its star Dominic Rains attending!

I’ll be seeing FOUR movies tomorrow, starting with the documentary on foley artists, Actors Of Sound at 10:15AM, which ends with the closing film Moonlight at 8:30PM! I’m writing this past midnight and in dire need of sleep, but I’m excited for what’s in store for me tomorrow!


21 thoughts on “Musings on the TCFF 2016 Award finalists … championing indie films & women in film

  1. WOW! What an intense but fun schedule. You’ve got to be exhausted. But it seems worth it as you’ve met some cool people and it sounds like the festival has brought in some fine films.

    1. Hi Keith! Boy it’s been a whirlwind yesterday and suffice to say I haven’t got much sleep or even get to my computer until this evening. It’s an intense schedule but boy that last two films at the fest, LION and MOONLIGHT were terrific, lived up to the hype they’ve been getting so far!

  2. Sooooo jealous Ruth! I need to somehow figure out how to land interviews at the next Adelaide Film Fest. Last year I got press tickets, next year I gotta use my brains like you said, stalk these people on twitter haha 😛

    1. Hey Jordan! It’s been a whirlwind the past few weeks, even before the film fest started I had already reached out to some of the filmmakers. You definitely should talk to the Adelaide festival organizer to hook you up w/ some filmmakers, and yes Twitter is a great resource as most of these indie filmmakers love the free publicity!

      1. yeah, next time I sort out my press tickets for the fest next year I’ll be sure to ask about potential interviews. Film is covered so pathetically here folks might actually be interested!

        1. How do you mean that films are pathetically covered? Are you talking about film bloggers in general? At least there is a film festival in your town though, so you gotta take advantage of that!

          1. In Australia, film just isn’t taken seriously. A big budget Aussie film is like, 4 million tops, unless Crowe is involved. There is almost no coverage of the Australian movie industry, hell the only Aussie movie magazine folded recently cos it wasn’t selling =/

            Next year I gotta take advantage of that festival. I think I might even get my sister to make a business card, even though I don’t consider myself a critic AT ALL it’d be nice to have a card to hand to people.

            1. Eh, that’s too bad, there are many great Aussie films AND Aussie actors, but I suppose most of them move to Hollywood or get most of their work from America. That’s too bad the Aussie magazine folded. I remember when I was a kid, when most girls would save their money to buy clothes, I’d save mine to buy movie magazines like EMPIRE or Total Film, which are UK based so they cost a fortune!

              Yes you should do it Jordan! I have a card for my blog which has my blog name and my social media accounts, so it’s easy to hand out to people 🙂

              1. “I suppose most of them move to Hollywood or get most of their work from America”

                Yep. None of them stay here because there is no point, or rather no money. Joel Edgerton hung around for a bit, as did Guy Pearce, but they mainly do American stuff now =/

                I have made myself a card :D! Well, my sister made it hehe. I didn’t have enough space for a twitter handle but I was able to fit my email and site addy in there. Next festival I’ll just hand them out to anyone… I’ve got plenty, doesn’t matter if they chuck it away! ;D

                1. That’s too bad, I think it’s the same in the UK, most UK actors move to the US, though some are still holding off, including my fave Sam Riley who lives in Berlin (not UK but still in Europe).

                  Hey you made yourself a card, very cool! Good for your sister to help you out. My hubby made my logo and I actually leave out my own name, so it’s just my blog, my email and Twitter. I’m not on FB much but I probably should put it there when I run out of the cards I have now 🙂

                  1. Oh so you don’t put your name on there? Hmm I might try to fiddle around with it a bit, I figure it can’t hurt to have them when I’m wandering around film festivals. Oh and I managed to get an interview with an Aussie filmmaker via twitter! ;D thanks for the tip 🙂

                    1. Yay!! Glad to hear it mate, that’s awesome! Who is the filmmaker, if you don’t mind sharing. I look forward to reading the interview post!

                    2. Craig Behenna, he co-directed and acted in One Eyed Girl last year, one of my favourite Australian movies. Shameless plug 😛 –

                      Hopefully it will prove to be interesting… I want to get a glimpse into how hard it really is to make a film in this country, and especially in this state (where One Eyed Girl was filmed). He said he is at a film fest in Austin so I’ll ask about that and what he has coming up in the future… I dunno, I need to sit down and properly think it through. I don’t want to ask boring or predictable questions!

                    3. Oh cool! Well let me know when the interview post is up Jordan. I’m sure you’ll do great coming up with the questions!

                    4. I re-watched the movie and took in a lot of things with thinking of questions in mind. His acting in the film is great, and he co-wrote it not directed, which is great as I want to write a screenplay as well. Need to finish my book though first!!

                      BTW, One Eyed Girl is a really good flick. Its about a psychiatrist who ends up mentally ill himself because a former client killed herself. He ends up joining a cult that is very convincing… and realistic, having experienced that somewhat… and what follows is bloody good. Great music, great acting… I’d recommend it! Dunno if its on netflix though =/ I have the blu-ray

                    5. Hi again Jordan, sorry I’ve been kinda out of it on the blogging front, I’m taking an extended break (it’s been 10 days which is quite a long break for me).

                      I honestly haven’t heard of One Eyed Girl but now you got me curious, though the subject matter seems rather depressing. I don’t know if I ever told you but my late mother had some mental issues, was hospitalized often for it until the day she died, so I tend to avoid films with this topic as it hits too close to home for me.

                    6. Oh that’s sad to hear Ruth, that is understandable. Perhaps avoid this. I guess I am a bit of a cinematic masochist… I was involved with a type of cult (labelled as a rehab centre, hence my book) so this was heavy for me. I went through eight years of addiction and then sit through Trainspotting or Requiem, and both of them proper get to me, I’ll start bawling and all. There was a movie about epilepsy that really hit close too. I guess I like to test myself psychologically…. if that makes any sense!

  3. Pingback: It’s a wrap! ‘Moonlight’ and MN-made ‘Blood Stripe’ won TCFF 2016 top awards

  4. Pingback: A quick blog update… and my first script reading session

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