40th Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival - May 13-23, 2021Audience Choice Awards

MPS Film Society opted to forgo the traditional Jury awards this year, primarily because the original MSPIFF competition line-up was not able to be fully represented in the MSPIFF39 Redefined program. However, the tradition of the MSPIFF Audience Choice Awards and Nextwave Jury Competition continued.

MSPIFF39 Redefined audiences were given access to online ballots after purchasing screening access to each film. The ballots also accounted for multiple viewers in each household and were verified against ticket sales.

MSP Film Society is attempting to bring back the Audience Choice Award-winning films from MSPIFF39 Redefined, as well as several of the sold-out films, for Best of Fest encore screenings in MSP Film Society’s virtual and/or physical cinema over the coming months.

Audience Choice Award for Feature Fiction

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
Director: Pawo Choyning Dorji | Bhutan | 2019

Ugyen is a twenty-something man living in Thimphu, Bhutan, who yearns to move to Australia and pursue his dream of singing. But first he must finish a year of government-sponsored teaching in the most remote part of the country.



Audience Choice Award for Feature Documentary

Director: Spencer Patzman | USA | 2020

On August 1st, 2007, the sudden collapse of the I-35W bridge in downtown Minneapolis shaped a community. Spencer Patz. man’s debut documentary follows the many personal stories of one tragedy and the countless ways it is felt more than 12 years later.



Audience Choice Award for Short Fiction

Director: Dominic Howes | USA | 2020

Alone in a nearly empty roadside motel, an artist and a newly-returned local find quiet solace as they each struggle to escape their painful pasts.



Audience Choice Award for Short Documentary

Hip Hop in Ojibwe Country
Director: Sam Winter | USA | 2020

An intimate, musical portrait of young Ojibwe Hip Hop artists in Minnesota, in the Twin Cities and on the Rez.



Nextwave Youth Jury Competition

MSPIFF39 Redefined also presented the Nextwave competition. From over 500 submissions, a local group of high school youth working with the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) selected the final line-up of 14 short films, featuring diversity in filmmakers, genre, culture, content, and style. The Nextwave Youth Jurors, who included Alexandra Alvarado, Baine Avent, Morgan Bailie, Samantha Forgosh, Mimi Huelster, Liv Larsen, Amaka Nwokocha, Aby Soumare, Josie Spanier, and Sean Taubenberger, screened and discussed all the films in the Nextwave program, then selected two of them for awards and provided statements on their choices.

Excellence in Youth Filmmaking Winner

Cries of the Children
Director: Miracle Espericueta | USA (MN) | 2020

Many hear the cries of six-year-old Jimena Valencia, separated from her mother at a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility.

Nextwave Jury statement: Cries of the Children received the Youth Jury Award because of how an important message is so well conveyed. It, in fact, transcended language. The emotional and the subtle, simple brilliance truly made the jurors see themselves in their cries.



Youth Jury Award

In This House
Director: Jordan Brand | Australia | 2020

Whilst working his novel, an aging writer’s home becomes the hunting ground for a demon of his own creation.

Jury Statement: We have selected In This House for the Excellence in Youth Filmmaking because of the apparent dedication and effort. The deliberate shots and smooth camera movement created the emotional depth to get so much suspense in so little time. The well-done plot subversion and perfect credit song made the film feel considerably more professional than a youth made film.