By Oliver Gettell
April 27, 2017 at 08:49 PM EDT
Giacomo Belletti

Bobbi Jene

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The offbeat romantic comedy Keep the Change, the dancer documentary Bobbi Jene, and the fairy-tale-tinged coming-of-age drama Son of Sofia claimed top prizes at the 16th annual Tribeca Film Festival Thursday.

Keep the Change, the story of a budding romance between a man and woman who meet at a support group for people on the autism spectrum, won the award for best U.S. narrative feature, and filmmaker Rachel Israel won the prize for new narrative director. The jury praised Israel’s debut feature as a “heartwarming, hilarious and consistently surprising reinvention of the New York romantic comedy.”

Elvira Lind’s Bobbi Jene, which follows the American dancer Bobbi Jene Smith as she returns to her home country after a 10-year run as with an acclaimed Israeli dance company, won best documentary feature. It also took home prizes for documentary cinematography and editing. The jury applauded Lind’s film for “fulfilling the promise of classic cinema verite” and “pushing nonfiction intimacy to bold new places.”

Son of Sofia won best international narrative feature. Written and directed by Elina Psykou, the film centers on an 11-year-old boy who travels from Russia to live with his mother in Athens against the backdrop of the 2004 Olympics.

The award for new documentary director went to Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra of A Suitable Girl, about young, modern women in India looking to get married.

The festival proudly noted that women claimed the top awards in all five feature film categories.

Among the short-film categories, Iranian director Kaveh Mazaheri won best narrative short for Retouch but said he was unable to secure a visa due to President Trump’s travel ban.

In a video statement, he said it was “a pity that I am not among you tonight and cannot talk to you in person” as a result of “Mr. Trump’s fascinating decisions.” Mazaheri added, “I am delighted that the first Tribeca award for an Iranian short film is awarded to my film. I am pleased and humbled to accept this award. I would like to honorably present it to all immigrants around the world who are struggling for a better life.”

The full list of winners is available via the festival website.

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Bobbi Jene

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