AFI FEST 2020 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 2021 Best Live Action Short and Best Animated Short Academy Awards. The Shorts jury was comprised of film critic Carlos Aguilar, filmmaker Sophia Nahli Allison and Film Festival Alliance Executive Director Lela Meadow-Conner.
Highlights of the 2020 festival, which was mostly virtual this year, included a Centerpiece Drive-in screening of ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI… (DIR Regina King) at the Rose Bowl; the World Premieres of I’M YOUR WOMAN (DIR Julia Hart), PINK SKIES AHEAD (DIR Kelly Oxford) and REALLY LOVE (DIR Angel Kristi Williams); screenings of highly anticipated films including COLLECTIVE (COLLECTIV) (DIR Alexander Nanau), THE FATHER (DIR Florian Zeller), I CARRY YOU WITH ME (Heidi Ewing), MY LITTLE SISTER (DIR Stéphanie Chuat, Véronique Reymond), NEW ORDER (NUEVO ORDEN) (DIR Michel Franco), NINE DAYS (DIR Edson Oda) and WOLFWALKERS (DIR Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart); a conversation with Dr. Stacy Smith on the portrayal of characters with mental health conditions in film and television; a discussion with the director and cast of SOUND OF METAL with the Deaf community; a conversation with Academy Award® nominee, producer, director and writer Ava DuVernay about elevating and supporting BIPOC filmmakers; the Indie Contenders and Doc Roundtables; and Tributes to Sofia Coppola, Kirby Dirk, Mira Nair and Rita Moreno.
“With an audience of more than double from last year, we welcomed over 200 filmmakers and guests from around the world for Q&As and panels,” said Michael Lumpkin, Director AFI Festivals.
“This year’s festival was truly a celebration of film across the country with festival goers joining us online from all 50 states.”
Audience Award – Narrative Feature
WOLFWALKERS (DIR Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart)
Robyn befriends wild girl Mebh while exploring the magical forest outside an Irish town’s walls and undergoes a transformation in this adventurous animated film from THE SECRET OF KELLS creators, Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart.
Audience Award – Documentary Feature
76 DAYS (DIR Hao Wu, Weixi Chen, Anonymous)
January 23, 2020: Wuhan, China, a city of 11 million, goes on complete lockdown to combat COVID-19. Filming inside Wuhan’s hospitals, 76 DAYS provides an unforgettable look at a city’s fight for survival.
Audience Award – Short Film
LONELY BLUE NIGHT (DIR Johnson Cheng)
The consequences of a mother’s decision to leave her daughter in the care of an American homestay family are unearthed when they reunite for a dinner on one lonely blue night.
Grand Jury Prize – Animation
TIGER AND OX (호랑이와 소) (DIR Seunghee Kim)
Jury Statement: “With its economical, yet powerful use of the animated medium, this film tells a tender intergenerational story of the layered relationship between a mother and a daughter and invites us to engage in necessary conversations around gender and trauma.”
What does divorce mean to women in Korean patriarchal society? Is a fatherless family a failure? In order to find the answer to these questions, a single mother and her daughter start a conversation.
Grand Jury Prize – Live Action
PILLARS (DIR Haley Elizabeth Anderson)
Jury Statement: “The filmmaker navigates the coming-of-age terrain with a mesmerizing point of view anchored in stunning performances by its young cast. The nuanced showcased in explored Black girlhood in today’s America resonated strongly with us.”
One Sunday at church, 12-year-old Amber experiences her first kiss, a moment of innocence that triggers a series of awakenings: sexual, emotional and religious.
BLACK GOAT (DIR Yi Tang)
Jury Statement: “Gifted with an original cinematic voice, the filmmaker reclaims the often-taboo transformation of a young girl’s body in a singular context. Harnessing magical realism to enhance this journey from shame to acceptance, this film both enchants and empowers.”
Pasang, a new girl at a nunnery, has her first period after hearing a late-night ghost story. She keeps it secret until she bleeds at a prayer session. She believes that she has been cursed and needs to sacrifice a black goat to avoid further misfortune.
MAALBEEK (DIR Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis)
Jury Statement: “Departing from a tragic event, the director created a hybrid piece that is as immersive as it is moving and haunting. The reconstruction of a traumatic memory, both the personal and the collective, come to life in vibrant form.”
Sabine is looking for a missing image: a day that has left its mark forever and that everyone remembers but her. But maybe this absence is what allows her to move on with her life?
UMBILICAL (DIR Danski Tang)
Jury Statement: “Poignant and eye-popping, this animated vision speaks to the importance of understanding one’s family history and the inextricable connection between a mother and a daughter. Through beautifully abstract animation, the filmmaker expresses these complex themes in an affecting manner.”
An animated documentary exploring how the filmmaker’s mother’s abusive relationship with her father shaped her own experiences in a boarding school in China.
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This year’s festival showcased the best in global cinema due to the visionary support of Audi — now in its 17th consecutive year as Presenting Sponsor of the festival.
The complete AFI FEST program included 125 titles (55 features, 3 episodic, 33 shorts, 19 Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI FEST shorts and 15 AFI Conservatory Showcase shorts) of which 53% were directed by women, 39% were directed by BIPOC and 17% were directed by LGBTQ+. This year’s program represented 35 countries and included 7 World Premieres. The total film breakdown by section was: Special Presentations (8), Centerpiece Drive-in (1), Tributes (4), World Cinema (16) New Auteurs (14), Documentary (15), Cinema’s Legacy (4), Short Film Competition (33), Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI FEST (19) and AFI Conservatory Showcase (15).
Additional highlights of the festival included the World Premieres of MY PSYCHEDELIC LOVE STORY (DIR Errol Morris), THE REAGANS (DIR Matt Tyrnauer), SHE PARADISE (DIR Maya Cozier), and SISTERS WITH TRANSISTORS (DIR Lisa Rovner); an encore screening of I’M YOUR WOMAN (Julia Hart); the Indie Contenders Roundtable with Riz Ahmed (SOUND OF METAL), Rachel Brosnahan (I’M YOUR WOMAN), Winston Duke (NINE DAYS), Julia Garner (THE ASSISTANT), Vanessa Kirby (PIECES OF A WOMAN), Elisabeth Moss (THE INVISIBLE MAN and SHIRLEY), Carey Mulligan (PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN) and Andy Samberg (PALM SPRINGS); the Doc Rountable with Ramona S. Diaz (A THOUSAND CUTS), David France (WELCOME TO CHECHNYA), Liz Garbus (ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY), Ron Howard (REBUILDING PARADISE), Kirsten Johnson (DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD), Bao Nguyen (BE WATER), Dawn Porter (THE WAY I SEE IT) and Elyse Steinberg (THE FIGHT).
Additional guests included: Marisa Abela, Jennifer Abbott, Indira Andrewin, Joel Bakan, Alberto Balazs, Alan Ball, Jessica Barden, Angela Bassett, Zazie Beetz, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Paul Bettany,
Devon Bostick, Moran Cerf, Olivia Colman, Maya Cozier, R.J. Cutler, David P. Davis, Ezra Dewey, Mickey Down, Zeina Durra, Jessica Earnshaw, Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri, Armando Espitia, Heidi Ewing, Michel Franco, Dr. Racquel Gates, Marika Gerrard, Dieudo Hamadi, Myha’la Herrold, Werner Herzog, Aldis Hodge, Anthony Hopkins, Nina Hoss, Hallie Jackson, Barry Jenkins, Konrad Kay, Jo Ling Kent, Regina King, Tony Kushner, Jayme Lawson, Roseanne Liang, Sophia Lillis, Amos Mac, Peter Macdissi, Darius Marder, Nora Martirosyan, Cynthia McFadden, Noémie Merlant, Natalia Meta, Tara Miele, Sienna Miller, Andrea Mitchell, Chloë Grace Moretz, Tomm Moore, Errol Morris, Ekwa Msangi, Onessa Nestor, Christos Nikou, Miwa Nishikawa, Jeanette Nordahl, Edson Oda, Leslie Odom Jr., Yulene Olaizola, Tommy Oliver, Clive Oppenheimer, Kelly Oxford, Sean Penn, Judy Belushi Pisano, Justin Powell, Paul Raci, Morgan Radford, Mohammad Rasoulof, Andrea Risenborough, Érica Rivas, Gianfranco Rossi, Lisa Rovner, Odeya Rush, Kofi Siriboe, Morgan Spector, Ross Stewart, Chuck Todd, Katy Tur, Matt Tyrnauer, Blair Underwood, Pacho Velez, Caroline Vignal, Marquise Vilson, Angel Kristi Williams, Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing, Hao Wu, Matt Yoka and Florian Zeller.
Audi returned for the 17th year as the exclusive Presenting Sponsor of AFI FEST, enabling the festival to host the very best of world cinema. Audi and their visionary support reflect a continuing commitment to create opportunities for equality in film and television. Audi also supports AFI through the Audi Fellowship for Women, a full-tuition scholarship created in 2017 to support promising female directors entering the AFI Conservatory. This Fellowship is part of the Audi commitment to drive progress and a landmark investment in the future of the storytelling community.
Additional top sponsors included Apple and AT&T.