Festival heads into final weekend

The 2011 Tribeca Film Festival heads into its final weekend with Swedish narrative pic “She Monkeys” and doc “Bombay Beach” crowned the winners of top competish prizes.

Along with a few pre-premiere acquisition announcements — including IFC Midnight’s pickup of “Saint” and Magnolia’s deals for docs “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and “Limelight” — a couple of films have yielded pickups negotiated in the wake of successful Tribeca screenings. On Thursday Magnolia snapped up Sam Shepard oater “Blackthorn,” while earlier in the week the Weinstein Co. snagged docu “The Bully Project” after a round of late-night negotiations.

Although the fest has a reputation as less of a marketplace than Sundance or Cannes (which begins soon after the close of Tribeca), some in the industry believe its status is beginning to change, with buyers beginning to pay closer attention to the slate amid a favorable climate for indie pickups.

“Almost every major buying rep from L.A., the U.K. and Australia is here, along with most of the major foreign reps, and they’re all looking for stuff,” said Magnolia exec Tom Quinn. “I can’t say that’s always been true in past years.”

Among still up for grabs are Orlando Bloom topliner “The Good Doctor,” Ron Eldard pic “Roadie,” Adrien Brody starrer “Detachment” and Kathleen Turner vehicle Kathleen Turner vehicle “The Perfect Family,” along with docs such as well-received bio “Carol Channing: Larger than Life.”

Competish winners at the fest also look to attract added distributor attention. Lisa Aschan’s “She Monkeys,” about the intensifying relationship between two teen girls on an equestrian acrobatics team, scored the kudo for narrative feature, while “Bombay Beach,” Alma Har’el’s experimental doc about contempo residents of the Salton Sea area, took the doc feature laurel. Each prize comes with $25,000.

Rwandan-Australian pic “Grey Matter,” about a young African filmmaker, scored the actor award for Ramadhan “Shami” Bizimana as well as a special jury mention for the film’s writer-helmer, Kivu Ruhorahoza.

Carice van Houten took the actress award for “Black Butterflies,” about the poet known as the South African Sylvia Plath, and the screenplay kudo went to Jannicke Systad Jacobsen for Norwegian coming-of-ager “Turn Me On, Goddammit.”

Park Jungbum, writer-helmer of North Korean defector tale “The Journals of Musan,” snagged the trophy for new narrative director.

Besides “Bombay Beach,” winners of the fest’s doc awards included helmer Pablo Croce of “Like Water,” about a mixed martial arts champ, and “Give Up Tomorrow,” Michael Collins’ look at a Filipino man arrested for rape and murder, which earned a special jury mention.

Short film prizes were handed out as well, along with winners in the fest’s online edition (selected by voters drawn from the pool of virtual festgoers). Top online-screened feature went to Jerry Rothwell’s doc “Donor Unknown.”

Most fest awards came with cash prizes, with a total of around $185,000 handed out.

In a separate awards ceremony Thursday, Tribeca Film Institute, the education and development nonprofit affiliated with the fest, announced its 2011 award winners and grantees. “Creative promise” honors went to Dawn Porter’s doc “Gideon’s Army” and to Tina Mabry’s narrative feature “County Line.”

The fest runs through Sunday.

With preem screenings frontloaded during the fest’s first weekend for the convenience of industry out-of-towners, Tribeca wraps up with a neighborhood-focused street fair Saturday plus a Sunday screening sked largely devoted to the winners of fest awards from juries and auds.

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