Tribeca 2013: ‘The Rocket’ and ‘Bridegroom’ Win Heineken Audience Award

Tribeca’s 12th annual festival, running from April 17-28, wrapped up the festival by announcing The Rocket and Bridegroom winners of the  Heineken Audience Award. Read below for the official press release.



The 12th annual Tribeca Film Festival (TFF), co-founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff, and presented by founding sponsor American Express, announced the winners of the two Heineken Audience Awards tonight at the wrap party in New York City. Two awards—one for narrative and one for documentary—were given to the audience choices for the best films. The Rocket, directed by Kim Mordaunt, was chosen to receive the Narrative award; the film also took top honors at the Festival awards Thursday where it received both The Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature and Best Actor in a Narrative Feature Film for Sitthiphon Disamoe’s performance as Ahlo. Bridegroom, directed by Linda Bloodworth Thomason, was chosen for the Documentary award. Each award comes with a cash prize of $25,000.

Throughout the Festival, which kicked off on April 17, audiences have been able to vote for the Heineken Audience Awards by completing nomination ballots upon exiting screenings of TFF films. Films in the World Narrative Competition, World Documentary Competition, Viewpoints, Spotlight and Midnight sections were eligible.

“Our audiences have chosen two films that testify to the power of the human spirit and hope for change,” said Genna Terranova, Director of Programming. “Whether it’s the fight for marriage equality in the U.S. or a boy struggling against all odds in war torn Laos, audiences were clearly moved by these two inspiring stories.”

Set against the lush backdrop of rural Laos, The Rocket tells the story of scrappy ten-year-old Ahlo, who yearns to break free from his ill-fated destiny. After his village is displaced to make way for a massive dam, Ahlo escapes with his father and grandmother through the Laotian outback in search of a new home. Along the way, they come across a rocket festival that offers a lucrative—but dangerous—chance for a new beginning. With the help of his new friend Kia and her eccentric, James Brown-loving uncle, Ahlo sets out to build his own rocket, enter the contest and prove his worth to his family. The Rocket’s characters, mostly played by non-professional actors, embody the spirit of resilience and hope born out of a country affected by a legacy of war and undergoing a great economic change.

“We are thrilled that New York audiences who are so international were so engaged with The Rocket,” said Sylvia Wilczynski producer of The Rocket. “We’ve seen both laughs and tears at our screenings, and loved meeting everyone throughout the Festival. This award goes to people of Laos.”

Bridegroom chronicles the emotional journey of Shane and Tom, two young men in a loving and committed relationship. Unfortunately, their love is cut short by Tom’s accidental death, and his partner finds himself facing the failure of same sex marriage protections that leave him completely shut out and ostracized. Bloodworth Thomason sheds light on the often-overlooked struggles that same sex couples face as a result of marriage inequality. As this issue heads to the United States Supreme Court for deliberation, Bridegroom is poised as a timely and moving documentary about love and perseverance through loss.

“We are shocked. We were so grateful to just be selected for the Festival; we never imagined we would win the audience award,” said Linda Bloodworth Thomason, director of Bridegroom. “Hopefully the power of this story will propel the film into theaters across America and beyond.”

The Rocket and Bridegroom will screen on Sunday, April 28, as will the rest of the films that won awards at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. Full details and specific timing can be found on All other 2013 TFF award winners were announced at an awards show on Thursday, April 25, 2013. A full list of winners can be found at

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