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  • Jared Huizenga

Twin Cities Film Fest Announces 2023 Award Winners

The Twin Cities Film Fest announced its 2023 award winners Saturday evening, recognizing films and artists across 10 top categories. The annual visual arts celebration showcased more than 140 features, shorts and industry events over the past two weeks. This year also featured an array of special programs, championing diversity in filmmaking and raising awareness about this year’s social cause: Healthcare disparities.

The satire "American Fiction" took home TCFF’s coveted Best Feature Film prize. Starring Jeffrey Wright, the comedy marks Cord Jefferson’s (Watchmen, Succession, Master of None) memorable directorial debut, as he confronts America’s obsession with the reducing of people to outrageous stereotypes. The film recently won the People Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, often viewed as a bellwether of success at the Academy Awards.

The inaugural Bill Cooper Best Minnesota Feature Award was bestowed to Giovanni Fumu’s "Abroad," a thriller about a missing woman and her boyfriend’s fight to stay alive in a hostile land when he emerges as a prime suspect. The project was filmed along the North Shore, in Minnesota locations ranging from Duluth to Grand Marais.

The year’s top non-fiction award went to Ky Dickens’ "Show Her the Money," a documentary that spotlights the extreme gender disparities in venture capital funding of new businesses. With less than 2% of funding currently going to women-operated enterprises, Show Her the Money spotlights an array of unique female entrepreneurs who are today being backed by female investors as they successfully bootstrap their companies into success stories.

For the first time in TCFF history, the Best Short Film contest ended in a tie, as it was announced trophies would be given to both James Werner’s "Blonsh," a sci-fi comedy interweaving a story of young love with an unexpected alien visitation, and Sarah Smith’s "Cardiff," a film about forbidden love, family and coming of age.

“From the film catalog to our special events program, the festival’s focus this year was very much diversity and inclusivity, all of which makes this year’s wide-ranging slate of award winners that much more inspiring,” said TCFF Executive Director Jatin Setia. “As we set out to champion diverse filmmakers and perspectives with both our ‘Empower’ and ‘Her’ series, and as we tried to play some small part in spotlighting inequalities in our healthcare system, TCFF strived to use our platform to elevate underrepresented points of view. To now see so many of those projects resonating so deeply with critics and audiences alike sets the 2023 event apart from any other in our history.”

The 2023 Audience Awards went to "Boys at Twenty," directed by Isaac Dell (Narrative); "A Binding Truth," directed by Louise Woehrle (Documentary); and "Serenity," directed by Ryan Stopera (Short).

In other awards, actress Ava Acres received the Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance prize for her role in Chelsea Bo’s "No Right Way," a story of a tween suddenly thrust into guardianship of her half-sister. Terrence Howard, star of festival selection "Showdown at the Grand," was honored with the TCFF Indie Vision Legacy Award.

Ryan Neil Butler’s "Bin Day," a short comedy about the zombie apocalypse, was awarded the Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedic Shorts Award. Acclaimed actor Bill Murray again served as a TCFF guest judge this year, choosing his favorite funny short from a trio of finalists.

Below is the complete lineup of 2023 award winners. To see a full listing of finalists, or for more information on dates of upcoming encore screenings and special events, please visit

2023 Award Winners

Best Feature Film: American Fiction, directed by Cord Jefferson (Runner Up: The Holdovers, directed by Alexander Payne)

The Bill Cooper Best Minnesota Feature Award: Abroad, directed by Giovanni Fumu (Runner Up: Voice of Shadows, directed by Nick Bain)

The Robert Byrd Best Documentary Award: Show Her the Money, directed by Ky Dickens (Runner Up: Translators, directed by Rudy Valdez)

Best Short Films (Tie): Blonsh, directed by James Warner, and Cardiff, directed by Sarah Smith (Runner Up: Little Anna, directed by J. Batzli)

Audience Award, Feature: Boys at Twenty, directed by Isaac Dell (Runner Up: All of Us Strangers, directed by Andrew Haigh)

Audience Award, Documentary: A Binding Truth, directed by Louise Woehrle (Runner Up: Show Her the Money, directed by Ky Dickens)

Audience Award, Short Film: Serenity, directed by Ryan Stopera (Runner Up: Prom Party, directed by Raven Johnson)

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance: Ava Acres, actress in No Right Way (Runner Up: Mike Cheslik, director and animation supervisor of Hundreds of Beavers)

TCFF Indie Vision Legacy Award: Terrence Howard

Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedic Shorts Award: Bin Day, directed by Ryan Neil Butler

TCFF Changemaker Award (Health Care Disparities): Dr. Yeng Yang, HealthPartners


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