Alumni Receive Awards at Tribeca Film Festival 2020

BY Felix van Kann, May 15, 2020

Still from The Last Out, image courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Winners were announced online last week for the renowned Tribeca Film Festival that was canceled due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Two Columbia films received recognition.


The Last Out, a documentary co-directed and produced by alumnus Sami Khan '09 received a Special Jury Mention for Best New Documentary Director in the Documentary Competition category. The Last Out is an affecting story of raw talent, passion and naivete that follows three Cuban baseball players with Major League dreams as they embark on radically different paths when those dreams don’t pan out. Khan was also chosen as an Impact Partners Documentary Producer Fellow. 


Additionally, Materna, written and directed by alumnus David Gutnik '12 and edited by recent alumnus Brúsi Ólason '20, won two awards, Best Actress (Assol Abdullina) and Best Cinematography in the Narrative Feature category. The film follows four women whose lives are separated by race, culture, and class but connected by the complexities of motherhood who become inextricably bound together by an incident on the New York City subway.

Still from Materna, image courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival

Sami Khan is a biracial Muslim filmmaker based in New York City. His work has screened at leading festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival and the Mumbai Film Festival. In addition to The Last Out, Khan also worked on a short documentary for Al Jazeera English with Smriti Mundhra, titled St. Louis Superman


David Gutnik is a Russian-American writer-director from Brooklyn. He is the editor of several award winning feature films, including Nancy, an Sundance Award-Winning film directed by fellow alumna Christina Choe ’12, in 2018. A 2017 Sundance Institute Fellow, Gutnik received an MFA in Film at Columbia University. Materna is his feature debut.


Brúsi Ólason is an Icelandic director, screenwriter and editor, based in New York. He grew up on a farm just outside of the town of Selfoss in the south of Iceland. Before moving to New York, Ólason worked at the Icelandic National Theatre. In 2017, he founded the production company Kvarki Films with Kari Ulfsson.


The Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, brings visionaries and diverse audiences together to celebrate storytelling in all its forms, including film, TV, VR, gaming, music, and online work. With strong roots in independent film, Tribeca is a platform for creative expression and immersive entertainment. The Festival champions emerging and established voices; discovers award-winning filmmakers and creators; curates innovative experiences; and introduces new technology and ideas through premieres, exhibitions, talks, and live performances. Now in its 19th year, the Festival has evolved into a destination for creativity that reimagines the cinematic experience and explores how art can unite communities.