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Nomadland, Sound of Metal, Dame take top honors at first-ever hybrid film festival 

St. Louis Park, MN (November 1, 2020) – The Twin Cities Film Fest, presented by VumaTV, announced its award winners Sunday, recognizing films and artists across 10 top categories. The 10-day marathon of feature films, shorts and filmmaker conversations, which showcased more than 70 titles in a first-ever “hybrid” mix of distanced theater screenings and online streams and facilitated a broader conversation around the social cause of affordable living, named Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland the Best Feature Film of 2020.

“You knew after Toronto that Nomadland was sure to be something special, but to see our community respond to these themes of resilience, isolation and a fraying American safety net is a festival moment I’ll never forget,” said TCFF Artistic Director Steve Snyder. An adaptation of Jessica Bruder’s 2017 book, which follows the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, Nomadland features real nomads Linda May, Swankie, and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West. Winner of the 2020 Venice Film Festival Golden Lion and Toronto International Film Festival 2020 People’s Choice Award.

The festival’s top non-fiction award went to Sonia Lowman’s Black Boys, a documentary that illuminates the reality facing Black males today through intimate, intergenerational conversations addressing such key issues as education, sports and criminal justice. The Best Short Film of 2020 is Dame Pierre’s Long Ride Home, which tells a moving story about systemic oppression as a young Black professional takes a ride to his childhood home only to discover that his success has not taken him as far as he thought.

The 2020 Audience Award winners, voted on by online audiences, went to Gossamer Folds (Narrative), Burren Girl (Documentary) and Dame (Short). This year marked the first time that online viewers participated in the audience award process — and the first time that the festival uploaded the majority of accepted titles to its TCFF Streams platform, enabling viewers across the country to participate in the event.

“I’ve never been prouder of this organization, in pulling off a hybrid schedule that maintains this sense of community — nor prouder of our TCFF fans, who embraced the changes, traded stadium seating for their couches, and remained committed even remotely in celebrating these filmmakers, engaging with their visions, and being part of a different kind of festival experience over the past 10 days,” said TCFF Executive Director Jatin Setia.

“I know there’s a lot of speculation right now in the arts world, about what might change forever once we’re through the darkest days of COVID-19. For us, the passionate response we’ve seen to our streaming events leaves me feeling confident that TCFF Streams will be a fixture of our festival in the future — helping more filmmakers connect with a wider array of audiences across a broader geography than ever before.”

Riz Ahmed received this year’s Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance Award for his unforgettable performance as a rock drummer who starts to lose his hearing in Sound of Metal. Ahamefule J. Oluo won this year’s Indie Vision — Breakthrough Achievement award for his music and score behind Thin Skin, an intimate journey that follows a divorced father of two who longs to leave behind his desk job for a career as a musician. The film’s based on the stage show “Now I’m Fine,” which Oluo wrote with Lindy West.

The 2020 Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedic Shorts Award went to Men Among Men, directed by Savannah Reich.

This year’s TCFF Changemaker Award went to Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, for her work in advancing the cause of affordable living across the state.

Here’s the complete listing of 2020 award winners — as well as the full roster of 2020 TCFF finalists. For more information on films and the festival, along with dates of upcoming special events, please visit

2020 Award Winners

Best Feature Film Award: Nomadland, directed by Chloé Zhao

The Robert Byrd Best Documentary Award: Black Boys, directed by Sonia Lowman

Best Short Film Award: Long Ride Home, directed by Dame Pierre

Audience Award, Feature: Gossamer Folds, directed by Lisa Donata

Audience Award, Non-Fiction: Burren Girl, directed by Rita Davern

Audience Award, Short Film: Dame, directed by Foster Wilson

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Performance: Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal

Indie Vision — Breakthrough Achievement: Ahamefule J. Oluo for Thin Skin’s music and score

The Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedic Shorts Award: Men Among Men, directed by Savannah Reich

2020 TCFF Changemaker Award (Affordable Living): Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan


2020 TCFF Finalists

Best Feature Film Award: Gossamer Folds, directed by Lisa Donato; Nomadland, directed by Chloé Zhao; Sound of Metal, directed by Darius Marder; The Subject, directed by Lanie Zipoy; and Take Out Girl, directed by Hisonni Johnson.

The Robert Byrd Best Documentary Film Award: Black Boys, directed by Sonia Lowman; The Falconer, directed by Annie Kaempfer; Normie, directed by Kurt Neale; The Reunited States, directed by Ben Rekhi; and Through the Night, directed by Loira Limbal.

Best Short Film Award: Dame, directed by Foster Wilson; Long Ride Home, directed by Dame Pierre; and Vision — Seeing Is Believing, directed by Mark Anderson.

TCFF’s Indie Vision Award — Breakthrough Performance: Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal; Grace Kendall in Dame; Frances McDormand in Nomadland; Lili Taylor in Paper Spiders; and Hedy Wong in Take Out Girl.

TCFF’s Indie Vision Award — Breakthrough Achievement: Hisonni Johnson and Alberto Triana for their cinematography in Take Out Girl; Abraham and Darius Marder for their screenplay of Sound of Metal; Adam Mervis for his direction of The Last Days of Capitalism; Ahamefule J. Oluo for his music and score in Thin Skin; Malika Zouhali-Worrall for her editing in Through the Night

Fun Is Good Bill Murray Comedy Shorts Award: Men Among Men, directed by Savannah Reich; Pappy Hour, directed by Nell Teare; and Sugar Blasters, directed by Sean A. Skinner.

The TCFF 2020 Changemaker Award: Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, for her work in advancing the cause of affordable living across the state.



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

ABOUT VumaTV, TCFF 2020 Presenting Sponsor

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Media Contact:                                                                                                         

Jatin Setia

Twin Cities Film Fest