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

It’s a wrap!!

tcfflogoThe 2016 TCFF has concluded Saturday night with a festive closing night party.

I saw four films Saturday night. Starting with two great documentaries Actors Of Sound and Free Cece, followed by two powerful emotional dramas, Lion and Moonlight.

I had been crying so much watching Lion, a wonderful depiction of an incredible true story, and Moonlight was an even more emotional experience. It was a well-written, well-acted and simply powerful film about Black sexuality, featuring the kind of deep emotional intimacy I haven’t seen in many films, regardless of race and gender.

I also enjoyed the short film that preceded Actors of Sound called Boom Up!, it was hilarious! I won’t have the reviews of the films I saw in last two days of TCFF until later in November, but let’s just say I recommend all the four films I saw on closing night!

Concluding a star-studded showcase that featured more than 100 films spanned over 11 days, this is perhaps the largest-ever Twin Cities Film Fest ever with over 130 films, including shorts and documentaries! Top awards went to the critically-acclaimed coming of age drama Moonlight, which had been hailed by critics as the best film of the year and will hopefully gain more traction until the Oscars next year. Just like Room and Brooklyn last year, TCFF continues tradition in screening critical darlings that went on to win accolades at the Oscars.

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Here are the winners from Twin Cities Film Fest 2016:

Best Short Film: Lend a Hand For Love, directed by John and Amy Thompson

Audience Award – Short: Waabooz, directed by Molly Katagiri

Best Documentary: I Do? directed by Joe Brandmeier

Audience Award – Documentary: Iron Will, directed by Sergio Valenzuela

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Non-Fiction Film: They Call Us Monsters, directed by Ben Lear

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Feature Film: No Light and No Land Anywhere, directed by Amber Sealey

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance: Kate Nowlin (Blood Stripe)

Best Feature Film: Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins

Audience Award – Feature Film: Blood Stripe

I’m so thrilled for Remy Auberjonois and Kate Nowlin who won the Audience Award in the Feature Film category. As you know from my review of Blood Stripe, I was so impressed with this film. It’s so well-written, well-directed AND phenomenally-acted by Kate Nowlin, who deservedly also won Best Breakthrough Performance this weekend. I certainly think Kate’s performance is Oscar worthy!

Kate & Remy receiving the award from TCFF exec director Jatin Setia
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Kate with TCFF artistic director Steve Snyder

Another well-deserved award, that is the TCFF North Star Award goes to the massively talented indie actor Dominic Rains. You may not know who he is yet folks, but mark my words, you will! He’s already won Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film at Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year for his performance in Burn Country (originally named The Fixer), which also screened at TCFF, along with two others, Funeral Day and The Loner.

Dominic Rains with Steve + Jatin

I have seen two of the three films he’s in and was really impressed by his strong screen presence and versatility as his role in the thriller/drama Burn Country (as a former Afghan journalist) and the comedy Funeral Day (as a rather obnoxious American realtor) couldn’t be more different from each other, but yet he pulls off both roles effortlessly. Stay tuned for my in-depth interview with Dominic on his career, as well as with Funeral Day‘s director Jon Weinberg!

As I’ve mentioned in this post, I’m glad to see quite a few female filmmakers as well as female-driven films represented at TCFF! One of the finalists for Breakthrough Feature Film that I was really impressed with was Claire In Motion, which was directed by a pair of female filmmakers, featuring a terrific performance by Betsy Brandt.

It was already close to 11pm by the time I came out of the Moonlight screening, TCFF’s final film, but I couldn’t miss the award ceremony at TCFF lounge. I was only there for an hour or so and I had a blast hanging out with my friends, Kirsten Gregerson and Emmylou Barden.

me with Emmylou & Kirsten
me with Emmylou & Kirsten

I don’t know how long the party went on but clearly everyone had a great time! I’m glad I got a chance to congratulate Kate Nowlin for her award, my interview with her and her husband/collaborator Remy Auberjonois are certainly one of the highlights of covering TCFF, not just this year but of all seven years I’ve been with the film fest! Just before I left for the night, I even got a chance to chat with Remy about the enigmatic ending of Blood Stripe. Once you see it, I think you’ll know what I mean!

Thanks to my darling hubby for taking pictures of the closing party festivities! Check out his Instagram for his awesome travel photography (and I’m not just saying that ’cause I’m his wife) 🙂


Congrat Jatin, Bill, Dani, Steve and Naomi for another great year!
It was so gratifying to be a part of TCFF once again… watching, discussing & celebrating indie films and the art of filmmaking.


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19 thoughts on “It’s a wrap! ‘Moonlight’ and MN-made ‘Blood Stripe’ won TCFF 2016 top awards

    1. Hi Vin, thanks for stopping by. Readership and comments drop off whilst I’m covering the film fest but glad that you found it fascinating 🙂

    1. Hi Cindy, those two are must-see, but don’t forget Blood Stripe 🙂 Yes it’s been a whirlwind few weeks, but it’s been such a blessing to be involved w/ this.

  1. Holy cow, I thought there’s another week of the festival, didn’t realize it’s over! I was so busy with work that I didn’t even get a chance to stop by but felt like I’m there with all of your coverage. I definitely would like to see Moonlight, that’s the one I was hoping to see had I gone to the festival, glad it lived up to all of the praises it received so far.

    1. Hi Ted, well it started on 10/19 for 11 days 🙂 Bummed you missed out on TCFF again, there are lots of great films well worth your time. Moonlight is excellent, lived up to the hype for sure.

  2. Looks like you had a lot of fun, Ruth! I’m SO disappointed that I missed Lion, but I was able to see Moonlight. I had the same experience you did…total awe. Will you be reviewing it?

    1. It was exhausting but fun, yes 🙂 Has LION opened yet in mainstream cinema? Or were you at a film festival? Moonlight was so good indeed, my hubby and I were quite transfixed by it, great script and performance. Yes I’ll definitely review it but later when it’s released locally here in MN.

        1. Was it the New Orleans Film Festival? Well, I think LION was very good but Moonlight was quite groundbreaking, so glad that you saw that one.

            1. Nice! Did you blog about the lineup? I should check your site, sorry I’ve been so behind as I just wasn’t able to check other blogs during TCFF.

                1. Oh that’s totally ok. I’m the staff blogger for TCFF so I have to blog regularly for them. I’m still not done yet as I still have about 5 films I saw in the last 2 days of the fest that I haven’t blogged about 🙂

  3. Moonlight is set to SLAY with critics! Can’t wait to see it. Never heard of Blood Stripe, but you have me so intrigued. So jealous of all your film festival goings. Keep on living that life, Ruth!

    1. Hi Drew! Yes, as it should, Moonlight was worth all the hype and then some. Hope you check it out when it opens near you. Same with Blood Stripe, which hopefully will get a decent release nationally. I’m blessed to be able to cover 2 film fests in town. I think you’d be an awesome film fest blogger when you get the chance!

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