2021 TCFF Award Winners


Belfast, After Antarctica, Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America take top honors at hybrid festival

St. Louis Park, MN (October 31, 2021) – The Twin Cities Film Fest announced its 2021 award winners Sunday, recognizing films and artists across 12 top categories. The annual visual arts celebration showcased more than 90 feature films, shorts and filmmaker conversations across 10 days, combining virtual showcases with a robust return to in-person theatrical screenings.  

Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, already the winner of the coveted People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, took home TCFF’s Best Feature Film prize. A semi-autobiographical portrait of childhood and working class family life in Northern Ireland during the tumultuous period of the late 1960s, Branagh’s critically acclaimed drama showcases Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe.

The festival’s top non-fiction award went to Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler’s Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, which documents former ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jeffery Robinson’s groundbreaking stage talk on the history of anti-Black racism in America, interweaving his acclaimed presentation with archival footage, interviews and Robinson’s own stirring backstory.

The 2021 Audience Award winners, voted on by both online attendees and in-person audiences at St. Louis Park’s Showplace ICON Theatres at The Shops at West End, went to Belfast, Directed by Kenneth Branaugh (Narrative), After Antarctica, directed by Tasha Van Zandt (Documentary) and Lemon Shark, Directed by Kate Nowlin (Short). This year marked only the second time that online viewers participated in the audience award process — and that a wide cross-section of the festival catalogue was available to viewers at home via the TCFF Streams platform.

“What an inspirational year this was for all of us,” said TCFF Executive Director Jatin Setia. “From the quality, creativity and urgency of this year’s submissions to the visceral rush of being back in theaters communing with other movie lovers and the added energy that comes with expanding our film community via digital streaming, this is a festival I’ll never forget. Our 2021 celebration felt like a wonderful return to normal while also pointing to how this annual gathering — and our entire organization — will continue to evolve beyond the pandemic.” 

Looking ahead to 2022, Setia announced plans for one new TCFF initiative: Code Red, a curated film series that will focus on climate change consequences, innovation and resilience.

Danielle Zalopany received this year’s Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance award for her fearless performance in the critical hit Waikiki, playing a native Hawaiian juggling three jobs while living out of her van. Cinematographer Nick Brandestini won the Indie Vision — Breakthrough Achievement award for his unforgettable imagery in the lush documentary Sapelo.

The 2021 Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedic Shorts Award went to Gorilla Wants Banana, directed by Andrew Juncker.

Here’s the complete listing of 2021 award winners — as well as the full roster of 2021 TCFF finalists. For more information on films and the festival, along with dates of upcoming encore screenings and special events, please visit www.TwinCitiesFilmFest.org:

2021 Award Winners

Best Feature Film Award: Belfast, directed by Kenneth Branagh

The Robert Byrd Best Documentary Award: Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, directed by Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler

Best Short Film Award: Gorilla Wants Banana, directed by Andrew Juncker

Audience Award, Feature:  Belfast directed by Kenneth Branagh

Audience Award, Feature – Runner Up: Sold Out directed by Tim Dahlseid

Audience Award, Non-Fiction: After Antarctica, directed by Tasha Van Zandt and produced by Tasha Van Zandt and Sebastian Zeck

Audience Award, Non-Fiction – Runner Up:  A Fire Within, Directed by Christopher Chambers

Audience Award, Short Film: Lemon Shark, Directed by Kate Nowlin

Audience Award, Short Film – Runner Up: 28 is Great, directed by Jasmine Dorothy Haefner

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance: Danielle Zalopany, Waikiki

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Achievement: Nick Brandestini, Sapelo

Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedic Shorts Award: Gorilla Wants Banana, directed by Andrew Zuncker

2021 TCFF Finalists

Best Feature Film Award: Belfast, directed by Kenneth Branagh; C’mon C’mon, directed by Mike Mills; The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, directed by Will Sharpe; The French Dispatch, directed by Wes Anderson; and Waikiki, directed by Christopher Kahunahana.

The Robert Byrd Best Documentary Film Award: A Fire Within, directed by Christopher Chambers; Mayor Pete, directed by Jesse Moss; That’s Wild, directed by Michiel Thomas; Trusted Messenger, directed by Chris Newberry; and Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America, directed by Emily and Sarah Kunstler.

Best Short Film Award: Gorilla Wants Banana, directed by Andrew Juncker; Lemon Shark, directed by Kate Nowlin; Frankie, directed by James Kautz: and No Dogs, directed by Randal Kamradt.

TCFF’s Indie Vision Award — Breakthrough Performance: Sam Bardwell in Sold Out; Juliana Destefano in Acid Test; Leonard Searcy in 39 Seconds; Mary Cate Williams in Her Name Was Jo; and Danielle Zalopany in Waikiki.

TCFF’s Indie Vision Award — Breakthrough Achievement: Aizzah Fatima and Iman K. Zawahry for their screenplay Americanish; Nathaniel Eras, Jimmy Stoefer and Alan Wilkis for their music in Drunk Bus; Nick Brandestini for his cinematography in Sapelo; Filmmaker C.J. Renner for his use of immersive VR techniques in Soldier; and Christopher Kahunahana for his direction in Waikiki.

Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedy Shorts Award: Gorilla Wants Banana, directed by Andrew Juncker; The Homework Fairy, directed by David Mair; and Shots, directed by Joshua Carlon


Twin Cities Film Fest (TCFF) is a Minneapolis-based 501(c)(3) non-profit arts organization founded by Executive Director, Jatin Setia. The Twin Cities Film Fest is an annual mainstream film festival that caters to the general public with one simple goal: To offer audiences access to the best films the global industry has to offer, to stimulate economic activity in the Twin Cities and to offer filmmakers a premiere venue at which to premiere their work. TCFF welcomes donations throughout the year from members, individual donors, volunteers, or corporations. To learn more about TCFF, events, film submissions or to donate, visit twincitiesfilmfest.org.


Founded in 1909 with a single storefront nickelodeon, Chicago-based Kerasotes Showplace Theatres introduced a “new era of moviegoing” with its Showplace ICON Theatres. Owned and operated by third generation family, Tony and Dean Kerasotes, the Company plans to debut Showplace ICON Theatres in additional major U.S. markets, including Boston, Mass.; Washington D.C. and surrounding suburbs; and Laguna Hills and the Silicon Valley in Cal.  For more information, please visit us online at http://www.showplaceicon.com.


The Shops at West End offers a shopping, dining and entertainment experience like no other. Located in the highly affluent suburb of St. Louis Park, just minutes from downtown Minneapolis and centrally located just off of 394 and Highway 100. With heated indoor parking, as well as ample ramp and street parking you’re never far from some of the most unique shops in the Twin Cities. From locally-owned boutiques to entertainment to rejuvenation. Our shops are what make up the friendly, comfortable experience you’ll have when visiting The Shops at West End. Please visit www.TheShopsAtWestEnd.com.

Media Contact:                                                                                                         

Jatin Setia                                                      

Twin Cities Film Fest