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30th Annual IFP Gotham Awards Winners Announced

by Gotham on January 11, 2021

NOMADLAND Wins Best Feature and the Audience Award

TIME and A THOUSAND CUTS Jointly Awarded Best Documentary

RIZ AHMED and NICOLE BEHARIE Win Best Actor and Best Actress Awards


New York, NY (Monday, January 11, 2021) – The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) tonight announced the winners of the 30th Annual IFP Gotham Awards during a hybrid live/virtual ceremony streamed from Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

Winning Best Feature and the Gotham Audience Award was Nomadland, director Chloé Zhao’s lyrical and elegiac look at working class Americans leading nomadic lives in a country in economic collapse for many, and of one woman deciding a new path for herself through this community. Zhao previously won the Gotham Best Feature Award in 2018 for The Rider, making her the first director to win the award twice since the category was established in 2004.

The award for Best Documentary was presented to two films: A Thousand Cuts, directed by Ramona S. Diaz, which powerfully follows Maria Ressa, a renowned journalist who has become a top target of President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on the news media in the Philippines, and Garrett Bradley’s Time, which charts the 20-year journey of Sibil Fox Richardson, as she fought for the release of her husband serving an excessive 60-year prison sentence, kaleidoscopically interweaving years of home movie diaries that movingly reveal the love and loss in this family’s separation.

Winning the award for Best International Feature, given for the first time this year, was Identifying Features, directed by Fernanda Valadez, which tells the story of an increasing dangerous journey for a Mexican mother searching for the truth about her missing son who disappeared after leaving to cross the U.S.

Riz Ahmed was voted Best Actor for his masterful and riveting performance as Ruben, a heavy-metal drummer and recovering addict confronted with a sudden loss of hearing and the prospect of a radically altered life in Sound of Metal.

Winning the award for Best Actress was Nicole Beharie for her delicate, emotionally honest, and translucent performance as a financially struggling, hardworking mother who, regretful of her own missed opportunities in life, desperately wants more for her teenage daughter in Miss Juneteenth.

The award for Best Screenplay went to the writer-directors of two films: Radha Blank for The Forty-Year-Old Version, her loosely personal, comedic satire about a once-promising playwright still pushing for visibility in New York’s art world firmament as she hits 40, and Dan Sallitt for Fourteen, his remarkably subtle and devastating dissection of the ebb and flow of an intense female friendship over 10 years.

In the Gothams’ “breakthrough” categories, Kingsley Ben-Adir won the Breakthrough Actor award for his dynamic and layered performance as Malcolm X in One Night in Miami…, adding charisma, strength, and a touch of vulnerability to this man with demanding expectations of his friends (Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown) and of himself. Andrew Patterson was voted the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director award for The Vast of Night for achievement in a first fiction feature, displaying dazzling directorial virtuosity in this retro sci-fi story covering one night in a 1950s-set New Mexico town in which two young people encounter a mysterious radio signal that could be of extraterrestrial origin.

The Gotham Awards for debut television series are given annually to series that “enrich the landscape or push the boundaries of “television,” with awards given in two categories based on episode length. Winning the award for Breakthrough Series (Under 40 minutes) was I May Destroy You, Michaela Coel’s fierce, funny, dramatic, and audaciously complex series dealing (in part) with sexual assault and trauma. Receiving the award for Breakthrough Series (Over 40 minutes) was Damon Lindelof’s Watchmen, an ambitiously cinematic sequel to the graphic novel source material, incorporating America’s racially violent past into a wild and unfamiliar future that’s very much relatable to today.

Career Tributes were also given during the ceremony to actors Viola Davis (presented by George C. Wolfe) and Chadwick Boseman (presented by André Holland), director Steve McQueen (presented by Lupita Nyong’o), and the Industry Tribute to producer Ryan Murphy (presented by Nicole Kidman).

An inaugural Ensemble Performance Tribute (presented by Aaron Sorkin) was presented to the cast of The Trial of the Chicago 7, including actors Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Alex Sharp, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Caitlin Fitzgerald, Alice Kremelberg, and Ben Shenkman.

Additionally, announced during the ceremony:

The Joel Schumacher Mentorship Award

Executive Director Jeffrey Sharp also announced the creation of The Joel Schumacher Mentorship Award in partnership and endowed by MTV Entertainment Group. To honor the legacy and social consciousness of the versatile film director, screenwriter and producer and his passion for mentoring young people, each year four undergraduate students will be selected to attend The Gotham EDU summer program, an 8-week curriculum which will offer workshops to hone career development and technical skills, master classes hosted by industry decision makers, and insight from mentors through one-on-one sessions with a full scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to individuals and communities which Joel identified through his work and life: LGBTQ+ and/or Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

The “Made in NY” Award

The “Made in NY” Award, given by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) to honor excellence in New York City’s creative community, was presented by Commissioner Anne del Castillo to Jeffrey Wright. An award-winning actor of international renown, Jeffrey is also a devoted advocate for his community. As co-founder of Brooklyn For Life!, he has helped support thousands of NYC’s first responders, public housing residents and small businesses adversely impacted by COVID-19.

Jet Blue/Focus Features Student Filmmaker Award

Student Short Film Showcase

Renée Elise Goldsberry announced the recipients supported by sponsoring partners JetBlue and Focus Features. The filmmakers not only receive a generous cash award ($10,000), their films will also be featured on JetBlue’s inflight entertainment systems for 12 months across the US, Latin America and the Caribbean and be made available for digital streaming through Focus Features. The winning shorts and filmmakers were:

  • Cousins, dir. Mandy Marcus BROOKLYN COLLEGE
  • Anita, dir. Sushma Khadepaun COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
  • Mud & Honey, dir. Molly Sorensen TEMPLE UNIVERSITY
  • No Law, No Heaven, dir. Kristi Hoi UCLA
  • Things That Happen in the Bathroom, dir. Edward Hancox UT AUSTIN

The Gotham Award ceremony was streamed Live on IFP’s Facebook page.

The 30th Annual IFP Gotham Award recipients are:


For Best Feature, presented by Michael Shannon


Directed by Chloé Zhao

Produced by Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, and Chloé Zhao

Released by Searchlight Pictures

The Best Feature jury included Joshua Astrachan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Johnny Ma, Cynthia Nixon, and Mary Jane Skalski.


For Best Documentary, presented by Padma Lakshmi

To two films:

A Thousand Cuts

Directed by Ramona S. Diaz

Produced by Ramona S. Diaz, Leah Marino, Julie Goldman, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn

Released by PBS Distribution | FRONTLINE



Directed by Garrett Bradley

Produced by Lauren Domino, Kellen Quinn, and Garrett Bradley

Released by Amazon Studios


The Best Documentary jury included Petra Costa, Thomas Allen Harris, Ellen Kuras, Stephen Maing, and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi.

For Best International Feature, presented by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre

Identifying Features

Directed by Fernanda Valadez

Produced by Astrid Rondero

Released by Kino Lorber


The Best International Feature jury included Maggie Betts, Harris Dickinson, Andrij Parekh, Franka Potente, and Yvonne Russo


For the IFP Gotham Audience Award, presented by Cristin Milioti


Directed by Chloé Zhao

Produced by Frances McDormand, Peter Spears, Mollye Asher, Dan Janvey, and Chloé Zhao

Released by Searchlight Pictures


The Audience Award was voted for on-line by IFP members.


For Best Actor, presented by Rebecca Hall

Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal

Released by Amazon Studios

The Best Actor jury included Willem Dafoe, Clea Duvall, Jonathan Majors, Kimberly Peirce, and Janet Yang.


For Best Actress, presented by Anthony Mackie

Nicole Beharie in Miss Juneteenth

Released by Vertical Entertainment


The Best Actress jury included Kerry Barden, André Holland, Sanaa Lathan, James Ponsoldt, and Merritt Wever


For Best Screenplay, presented by Kenneth Lonergan

To two films:

Radha Blank for The Forty-Year-Old Version

Released by Netflix


Dan Sallitt
for Fourteen

Released by Grasshopper Film


The Best Screenplay jury included Stephen Gaghan, Josh Mond, Lynn Nottage, Mary Kay Place, and Lynn Nottage


For Breakthrough Actor, presented by Zachary Quinto

Kingsley Ben-Adir in One Night in Miami…

Released by Amazon Studios


The Breakthrough Actor jury included Brady Corbet, Anna Rose Holmer, Carly Hugo, KiKi Layne, and Joe Talbot.


For Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director, presented by Stephen Gaghan

Andrew Patterson for The Vast of Night

Released by Amazon Studios


The Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director jury included Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, James Laxton, Doug Liman, and Gina Rodriguez.


For Breakthrough Series (Over 40 Minutes), presented by Noma Dumezweni


Created for Television by Damon Lindelof

Executive Produced by Tom Spezialy, Nicole Kassell, Stephen Williams, and Joseph E. Iberti



The Breakthrough Series (Over 40 Minutes) jury included Kat Candler, Wyatt Cenac, Maria Jacquemetton, Lela Loren, and Nina Wolarsky.


For Breakthrough Series (Under 40 Minutes), presented by Hunter Schafer

I May Destroy You

Created by Michaela Coel

Executive Produced by Michaela Coel, Phil Clarke, and Roberto Troni



The Breakthrough Series (Under 40 Minutes) jury included Rachel Bloom, Jon Coles, Grant Heslov, Gina Resnick, and DeWanda Wise.


The Premier Sponsor of the 2020 Gotham Awards is The New York Times. The Official Auto Partner is Cadillac, the Official Water Partner is FIJI Water, the Official Airline Partner is JetBlue, the Official Wine Partner is Robert Hall Winery, the Official Spirits Partner is Fortaleza, the Official Beauty Partner is The Estée Lauder Companies (Estée Lauder, MAC Cosmetics, and Bumble & Bumble), and the Official Coffee Partner is La Colombe.


About IFP

The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) champions the future of storytelling by connecting artists with essential resources at all stages of development and distribution. The organization, under the leadership of Executive Director and award-winning producer Jeffrey Sharp, fosters a vibrant and sustainable independent storytelling community through its year-round programs, which include IFP Week, Filmmaker Magazine, and the IFP Gotham Awards.


About the IFP Gotham Awards

The IFP Gotham Awards, selected by distinguished juries and presented in New York City, the home of independent film, are the first honors of the film awards season. This public showcase honors the filmmaking community, expands the audience for independent films, and supports the work that IFP does behind the scenes throughout the year to bring such films to fruition.


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