Phillip Youmans and Jane Rosenthal speak onstage at Awards Night - 2019 Tribeca Film Festival on May 2, 2019 in New York City.
Photo: Slaven Vlasic (Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

The 18th Annual Tribeca Film Festival is wrapping up on May 5, and I’m happy to report that black history has been made.

I attended the awards ceremony on Thursday evening and I must say, experiencing the pure joy of creators being recognized for the blood, sweat and tears they injected into their work never gets old. It’s intoxicating. It truly was an emotional night.

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But, enough of the happy tears for now, onto the winners!

The biggest moment of the night went to Phillip Youmans, who won The Founders Award (Best Narrative Feature) for Burning Cane — which we included on our 10 Blackest Experiences list this year!

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At the age of 19, Youmans is the first African America director to win this award, as well as the youngest ever director with a feature in Tribeca. Youmans wrote, directed and shot Burning Cane at the tender age of 17. With this top honor, Youmans received $20,000, sponsored by AT&T, and the art award “Bloom” by Fred Tomaselli.

Burning Cane trailer, SIFF / YouTube

Burning Cane had a big night, with the film winning Best Cinematography in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film, as well as Wendell Pierce scoring the Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature honor.

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Pierce accepted the award at the ceremony via video since he is currently in London rehearsing for his UK theatre debut as Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, to play at the Young Vic next month, per the Evening Standard.

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Another film on our Blackest Experiences list, 17 Blocks, won Best Documentary Competition and Best Editing in a Documentary Film.

St. Louis Superman, which chronicles the journey of 34-year-old battle rapper, leading Ferguson activist Missouri state representative Bruce Franks Jr., received a Special Jury Mention in the Documentary Short category.

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“I’m so proud to see our juries reward a group of winners that is truly representative of the diversity of story and accomplishment in craft at this year’s Festival. We are particularly excited for the many first-time filmmakers the jury chose to recognize, and feel like this year’s winners signal a bright future ahead for independent film,” Festival Director Cara Cusumano stated via press release.

As Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal pointed out, the 18th annual fest was truly a year of “new voices,” as every single winner of the three main feature awards are first-time directors, and all four short awards recipients are female directors.

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“It’s a wrap!” Rosenthal exclaimed, triumphantly.

The complete list of winners are listed below:

U.S. NARRATIVE COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

Founders Award for Best Narrative FeatureBurning Cane, directed by Phillip Youmans

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Best Actress in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film – Haley Bennett in Swallow

Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film – Wendell Pierce in Burning Cane

Best Cinematography in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film – Phillip Youmans for Burning Cane

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Best Screenplay in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film – Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy for Blow the Man Down

INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

Best International Narrative FeatureHouse of Hummingbird (Beol-sae) (South Korea, USA) directed and written by Bora Kim.

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Best Actress in an International Narrative Feature Film – Ji-hu Park in House of Hummingbird (Beol-sae) (South Korea, USA)

Best Actor in an International Narrative Feature Film – Ali Atay in Noah Land

Best Cinematography in an International Narrative Feature Film – Cinematography by Kang Gook-hyun for House of Hummingbird (Beol-sae) (South Korea, USA) directed by Bora Kim

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Best Screenplay in an International Narrative Feature FilmNoah Land (Nuh Tepesi) written by Cenk Ertürk (Germany, Turkey, USA)

DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

Best Documentary FeatureScheme Birds (Scotland, Sweden) directed and written by Ellen Fiske, Ellinor Hallin

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Best Cinematography in a Documentary Film – Cinematography by Yang Sun, Shuang Liang for Our Time Machine (China) directed by Yang Sun, S. Leo Chiang

Best Editing in a Documentary Film – Editing by Jennifer Tiexiera for 17 Blocks (USA) directed by Davy Rothbart

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BEST NEW NARRATIVE DIRECTOR COMPETITION:

Best New Narrative DirectorThe Gasoline Thieves (Huachicolero) (Mexico, Spain, UK, USA) directed by Edgar Nito

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BEST NEW DOCUMENTARY DIRECTOR COMPETITION:

Albert Maysles New Documentary Director AwardScheme Birds (Scotland, Sweden) directed by Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin

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THE NORA EPHRON AWARD:

The Nora Ephron AwardRania Attieh for Initials S.G. (Iniciales S.G.) (Argentina, Lebanon, USA) directed by Rania Attieh, Daniel Garcia

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SHORT FILM COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

Best Narrative ShortMaja (Denmark) directed by Marijana Jankovic

Shorts Animation AwardMy Mother’s Eyes (UK) directed and written by Jenny Wright

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Best Documentary ShortLearning To Skateboard In a Warzone (If You’re A Girl) (UK) directed by Carol Dysinger

Student Visionary AwardJebel Banat (Egypt) directed and written by Sharine Atif

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STORYSCAPES AWARD:

Storyscapes AwardThe Key (USA, Iraq), created by Celine Tricart

TRIBECA X AWARD:

Best Feature Film - Almost Human for The Carlsberg Foundation. Directed by Jeppe Rønde.

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Best Short Film - The Face of Distracted Driving for AT&T. Directed by Errol Morris for BBDO New York.

Best Episodic Film - History of Memory for HP. Directed by Sarah Klein and Tom Mason for Redglass Pictures, The Garage by HP.

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Best VR Film - The 100% by Stand Up to Cancer, HP and Intel. Directed by Hernan Barangan for Springbok Entertainment.