AFI Fest 2019 Presented by Audi announces awards


And just like that, one of the most exciting film weeks in LA is over. Last night, The AFI FEST 2019 presented by Audi, closed out its festival with Noah Baumberg’s emotional rollercoaster, Marriage Story.

The festival 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.

The complete AFI Fest 2019 Presented by Audi 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).

Highlights included 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.

ALSO READ: Review: Strong performances drive ‘Queen & Slim’

The festival also dodged a potential PR nightmare when Apple Originals pulled the feature, The Banker. The film was replaced with Netflix’s Marriage Story, which made the number of films the streamer presented at the fest nine.

Below are the awards:

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.

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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.

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.

The Reel 360 team cannot wait.