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Australian feature film ‘The Rocket’ has taken the top honour at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

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Set in Laos with mostly non-professional actors, it won best narrative film while its 10-year-old star was selected as best actor.

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Best documentary went to Dan Krauss’s’The Kill Team’, about a group of US soldiers charged with killing Afghan civilians.

The 12th annual festival, co-founded by Robert De Niro, ends on Sunday.

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The young star of The Rocket, Sitthiphon Disamoe, stars as Aholo – a boy who enters a traditional rocket festival to help save his poverty-stricken family who have been uprooted for the construction of a dam.

Jurors said the film, which picked up the best first feature award at the Berlin International Film Festival in February, “offers us a transcendent tale of hope and perseverance in a world that few Westerners ever have the chance to see”.
Nora Ephron award

Accepting award from Tribeca co-founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, Kim Mourdant said: “This award is really going to help this film … and bring attention to the developing world, and our relationship to the developing world.”

The festival awarded the inaugural Nora Ephron prize, its first award for female filmmakers, to writer-director Meera Menon.

Women's Filmmaker Brunch - 2013 Tribeca Film Festival

She won for her first film, ‘Farah Goes Bang’, the tale of friends who make a road trip to campaign for John Kerry during the 2004 presidential election.

Other award winners included Veerle Baetens, who won best actress for the Dutch/Belgian film ‘The Broken Circle Breakdown’ in which she plays a free spirit who becomes a grieving wife and mother in what the jury called “a tour de force performance”.

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The film also won the best screenplay award for Carl Joos and Felix van Groeningen.

New director awards went to Canada’s Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais for his dark comedy, ‘Whitewash’ about a man trying to survive a harsh Canadian winter, and American Sean Dunne for ‘Oxyana’, set in a rural coal mining town riddled with an addiction to pain relief medication.

‘Coach’, which was executive-produced by Whoopi Goldberg, took the best short documentary prize while Italy’s ‘The Nightshift Belongs to the Stars’ won best narrative.

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