AFI Fest handed out Jury and Audience prizes druing a quick ceremony Thursday morning in Hollywood, with Alexandra-Therese Keining's "With Every Heartbeat" taking the festival's audience nod in its Breakthrough section, while "Bullhead" by Michaël R. Roskam took the prize in the New Auteurs section.
"Bullhead" actor Matthias Schoenaerts also won an Acting prize at the event, held at the Roosevelt Hotel's Blossom Ballroom where the first Academy Awards took place over 80 years ago.
Julia Loktev's "The Loneliest Planet," meanwhile won the grand jury prize in AFI Fest's inaugural New Auteurs Critics Prize.
"I think it's really wonderful that we're able to present our first New Auteurs prize in the room where the first Oscars took place in 1929 and it's a section that we're able to present a lot of new voices that we're going to hear a lot from in the future," AFI Fest director Jacqueline Lyanga told Indiewire following the ceremony. "We love all the films of course and it's incredibly rewarding for us to give greater audience attention to these films and talented filmmakers."
"We are excited that 'Loneliest Planet' won the grand prize here this year," added Associate Director of Programming Lane Kneedler to Indiewire. "We have a lot of films in our festival that are toward the end of their festival run, and 'Planet' started out in I think Locarno, so it's great that we're able to give it more attention – some more heat. Julia Loktev is an incredible filmmaker who does so much with so little. She does it so economically and so precisely and she tells a great story about humans in general."
Continuing Kneedler noted that the win for "Bullhead"'s actor was "especially exciting" recalling that the actor had been at AFI Fest a year ago in "Pulsar" as a skinny tech nerd, and in "Bullhead," he's "a massive character" (the director, who accepted the award for Schoenaerts, said he gained 60 pounds for the role).
The 2011 AFI Fest winners with information provided by the festival:
Breakthrough Section (award accompanied by a $5,000 cash prize)
"With Every Heartbeat" by Alexandra-Therese Keining
New Auteurs Section
"Bullhead" by Michaël R. Roskam
World Cinema Section
A tie: "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" by David Gelb and "Kinyarwanda" by Alrick Brown
Young Americans Section
"Wuss" by Clay Liford
Live Action Short Film Section Grand Jury Prize
"Frozen Stories" Grzegorz Jaroszuk
Honorable Mention: "Babyland" by Marc Fratello
Animated Short Film Section
Grand Jury Prize: "The Eagleman Stag" by Michael Please
Honorable Mention: "The Voyagers" by Penny Lane
New Auteurs section Critics Prize:
Grand Jury Prize: "The Loneliest Planet" by Julia Loktev
Special Jury Prize: "Attenberg" by Athina Rachel Tsangari
Acting Award Prize: "Bullhead"'s Matthias Schoenaerts