Festival Announces Audience and Jury Award Winners
AFI FEST 2020 Will Take Place October 15-22
AFI FEST 2019 presented by Audi announced today the films that received this year’s Jury and Audience awards. The Grand Jury Award winners for Live Action and Animated Short will be eligible for the 2020 Best Live Action Short and Best Animated Short Academy Awards®. The Shorts jury was comprised of filmmakers Katrelle Kindred, Hannah Peterson and Davy Rothbart.
Highlights of the festival include Conversations with Peter Morgan and Martin Scorsese; the Indie Contenders and Doc Roundtables; a conversation with Eva Longoria and Dr. Stacy Smith on the Erasure of Latinx in Film; and a conversation with Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, and Susan Ruskin, Dean of the AFI Conservatory and EVP of the AFI Institute.
AFI FEST 2020 will open on October 15 and close on October 22. World premieres, galas and special screenings reflecting the best in global cinema will take place at iconic theaters in Los Angeles.
Audience Award – Feature
I AM NOT ALONE (DIR Garin Hovannisian)
Capturing the fury, emotion, and spontaneous expressions of freedom that overtook the streets of Armenia in 2018, Garin Hovannisian’s fascinating eye-witness documentary affords a unique glimpse into a revolution-in-the-making by offering unprecedented access to the grassroots movement that dared to challenge an entrenched regime, as well as the regime’s leaders themselves.
Audience Award – Short
LOST & FOUND (DIR Orlando Von Einsiedel)
A determined man, armed only with a megaphone, his determination, and an unshakeable smile, sets out to reunite lost children with their families in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh, which now houses over 600,000 Rohingya Muslims.
Grand Jury Award – Live-Action Short
EXAM (DIR Sonia K. Hadad)
Jury Statement: “We are so excited to award the Grand Jury Prize to Sonia K. Hadad’s EXAM. EXAM stood out from the other films for its bold directorial style, anchored by a stunning lead performance. The result is a tense portrait that reaches past its specificity into the universal.”
A teenage girl delivers a package of cocaine to a client and gets caught in a weird cycle of events.
Special Jury Prize—Live Action
MTHUNZI (DIR Tebogo Malebogo)
Jury Statement: “Centered on a chance encounter, MTHUNZI gives an intimate and powerful glance into the intricacies of unconscious bias. Beautifully captured, grounded performances and daring choices on behalf of the filmmaker left the jury stirred by this gentle narrative.”
Mthunzi becomes caught up in a world he does not belong while walking home from the shops.
Special Jury Prize—Live Action
LIBERTY (DIR Faren Humes)
Jury Statement: “First-time actors deliver breakthrough performances under the steady guidance of director Faren Humes in this absorbing and exquisite short. The jury was impressed by its kinetic energy, its economic storytelling and its probing yet compassionate tone.”
Alex and Milagros deal with great life upheaval as they prepare to dance at their community’s redevelopment groundbreaking ceremony.
Grand Jury Prize—Animation
SOMETHING TO REMEMBER (DIR Niki Lindroth von Bahr)
Jury Statement: “We’re pleased to give the Grand Jury Prize in Animation to SOMETHING TO REMEMBER for its tender yet critical response to the world around us, and its perfect execution. This irresistible short transforms bittersweet anxieties into a modern lullaby — we couldn’t take our eyes off of it.”
A lullaby before the great disaster.
Grand Jury Prize—Documentary (tie)
A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA (DIR Sophia Nahli Allison)
Jury Statement: “We are honored to award the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary filmmaking to A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA. It’s haunting and poetic exploration of a young woman’s life cut tragically short allows its audience to experience an injustice long hidden by time and politics. This film is a portrait framed by beautiful imagery, loving recollection and astonishing storytelling that will linger with the audience long after the credit roll.”
A dreamlike archive in conversation with the past and the present reimagines a more nuanced narrative of Latasha Harlins by excavating intimate and poetic memories shared by her cousin and best friend.
Grand Jury Prize—Documentary (tie)
THE CLINIC (DIR Elivia Shaw)
Jury Statement: “A gripping, harrowing peek into one corner of a vast epidemic, Elivia Shaw’s THE CLINIC is striking for the sensitivity and nuance with which it treats its subjects — both the people who come to Dr. Marc Lashner’s mobile needle exchange looking for help, and the scrappy team of volunteers who do what they can to offer it.”
Amidst a devastating opioid epidemic, a needle exchange and free clinic operates in the shadows of Fresno, California.
This year’s festival showcased the best in global cinema due to the visionary support of Audi — now in its 16th consecutive year as Presenting Sponsor of the festival.
The complete AFI FEST program included 143 titles (81 features, 1 episodic, 40 shorts, 21 AFI Conservatory Showcase Shorts) of which 51% were directed by women. This year’s program represented 52 countries, and included 8 official International Feature Film Oscar® submissions as well as 3 World Premieres. The total film breakdown by section was: Galas (6), Tributes (5), Special Screenings (9), New Auteurs (24), World Cinema (16), Midnight (2), Cinema’s Legacy (5), Documentary Films & Encore Screenings (15), Short Films (40) and AFI Conservatory Showcase (21).
The many highlights of the festival include Conversations with Peter Morgan and Martin Scorsese; the Indie Contenders Roundtable with Awkwafina (THE FAREWELL), Sterling K. Brown (WAVES), Cynthia Erivo (HARRIET), Jimmie Fails (THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO), Jon Hamm (THE REPORT), Florence Pugh (FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY and MIDSOMMAR), Kerry Washington (AMERICAN SON) and Alfre Woodard (CLEMENCY); the Doc Roundtable with filmmakers Alex Gibney (CITIZEN K), Eva Orner (BIKRAM: YOGI, GURU, PREDATOR), Steven Bognar (AMERICAN FACTORY), Roger Ross Williams (THE APOLLO), Feras Fayyad (THE CAVE), Waad Al-Kateab (FOR SAMA), Lauren Greenfield (THE KINGMAKER) and Nanfu Wang (ONE CHILD NATION); a conversation with Eva Longoria and Dr. Stacy Smith on the Erasure of Latinx in Film and a conversation with Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, and Suan Ruskin, Dean of the AFI Conservatory and EVP of the AFI Institute, exclusively for the AFI Fellows.
Additional guests and artists who attended the festival included Mahershala Ali, Gillian Anderson, Kathy Bates, Noah Baumbach, Beyoncé, Helena Bonham Carter, Simone Boyce, James. L. Brooks, Chinonye Chukwu, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Olivia Colman, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Laura Dern, Mati Diop, Snoop Dogg, Erin Doherty, Clint Eastwood, Flea, Harrison Ford, François Girard, Tom Harper, Paul Walter Hauser, Aldis Hodge, Joshua Jackson, Daniel Kaluuya, Jack Kilmer, John Lithgow, Melina Matsoukas (AFI Class of 2005), Fernando Meirelles, Tobias Menzies, Josh O’Connor, Edward James Olmos, Clive Owen, Dev Patel, Natalie Portman, Rob Reiner, Rihanna, Sam Rockwell, Evan Ross, Tracey Ellis Ross, Kelly Rowland, Howard Shore, Molly Sims, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bryan Stevenson, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Chuck Todd, Maryam Touzani, Jodie Turner-Ross, Lena Waithe, Tallulah Belle Willis, and Zendaya.
Audi was the exclusive presenting sponsor of AFI FEST 2019. Additional top sponsors included Apple, AT&T and American Airlines, the official airline of AFI.