NEW YORK -- Kim Mordaunt’s Laos-set tale “The Rocket” continued its stratospheric ride through the festival universe Saturday, picking up the audience award in the narrative category at the Tribeca Film Festival after previously garnering several other prizes.
On the documentary side, "Bridegroom," Linda Bloodworth-Thomason’s character-driven examination of gay rights and the same-sex marriage issue, won the audience’s nonfiction award.
Mordaunt’s largely Lao-language “Rocket” focuses on a 10-year-old boy in Laos’ tribal mountains who hopes both to build a rocket and find a new home for his family. It features a host of nonprofessional actors, including Sitthiphon Disamoe, who on Thursday was named best actor by the festival jury. That jury also handed the film the top narrative prize.
In February, "Rocket" won best debut feature at the Berlin Film Festival. It does not yet have U.S. distribution.
The Aussie Mordaunt has previously directed mostly documentaries, including 2007’s “Bomb Harvest,” about the messy enterprise of bomb disposal in Laos.
“Bridgegroom,” which raised more than $300,000 of its production budget via Kickstarter, explores the real-life story of Shane Bitney Crone and Tom Bridegroom, a same-sex couple who had planned to marry in California when Bridegroom was tragically killed in a roof accident. Bitney Crone is then prohibited from attending Bridegroom’s funeral by the late man’s family. A subsequent video tribute to Bridegroom from Bitney Crone became a viral sensation. The film does not yet have distribution plans.
The Hollywood veteran Bloodworth-Thomason, 66, has taken an unusual path through the entertainment world. A prolific TV writer, she helped create and executive-produce popular 1980s sitcom “Designing Women” and also maintained a close relationship with Bill Clinton that led her to create his famous 1992 campaign video “A Man From Hope."
But she’s been quiet lately. In 2008, her Texas-set dramatic series “12 Miles of Bad Road” was shelved by HBO and never shown after half a dozen episodes had already been filmed. She has not had a new produced project since, and had never directed a commercial film before.
Tribeca's audience awards can sometimes be a harbinger of commercial success, with indie breakout "City Island" winning the prize four years ago.
The Tribeca Film Festival wraps up Sunday with screenings of both the winning audience and jury films.
Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT
Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times