A movie about Cuban boat people was the biggest winner at the Tribeca Film Festival, taking in three awards after two of its actors went missing en route to New York.
"So much happened in this movie," said London-born Lucy Mulloy, the director of "Una Noche," as she accepted the award for Best New Director late Thursday. "It changed people's lives."
In a case of life imitating art, the Best Actor award went to Javier Nunez Florian, who disappeared along with actress Anailin de la Rua de la Torre during a stopover in Miami on their flight to the film festival.
Only one of the movie's three main actors, Dariel Arrechada, who also traveled from Cuba, made it to the film festival. He shared the Best Actor award with Florian.
"I can't believe it," Arrechada said as he received the award. "Thank you very much. I thank you with my whole heart. I'll never forget this day."
The short film also won for Best Cinematography, among the six awards given out during the competition.
The Founders Award for Best Picture went to "War Witch," directed by Kim Nguyen of Canada.
"Una Noche," (One Night) tells the story of three teenagers trying to make the dangerous ocean passage from Cuba to Florida in a homemade raft.
The story took an odd twist when Nunez Florian and De la Rua de la Torre disappeared last week during the Miami stopover.
Since 1966, Cubans have been granted automatic residence if they make it to the United States from the communist-ruled island, and thousands attempt the voyage every year, often navigating the shark-infested waters in rickety boats.
In explaining the best actor award, the jury said Nunez Florian and Arrechada gave "potent individual performances that together are even greater than the sum of their parts."
Regarding Mulloy's award, it said the film "rang the bell inside all of our little director hearts. We simply thought the film was awesome."
Another Latin American film, Argentina's "The Luck in Your Hands," directed by Daniel Burman, won the award for Best Screenplay. It was written by Burman and Sergio Dubcovsky.
The Tribeca Film Festival was founded in 2002 by actor Robert De Niro and film producer Jane Rosenthal to help New York's Tribeca neighborhood recover from the September 11, 2001 attack on the nearby World Trade Center.
The 2012 competition, which ends Sunday, includes 80 feature-length movies and 80 short films from 46 countries.
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