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by Brian Brooks
November 6, 2009 2:13 AM
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"Fish Tank" and "Woman" Share AFI Fest Top Prize

"Fish Tank" actor Michael Fassbender with companion at the AFI Fest awards evening/"A Serious Man" party Thursday night in Hollywood. Photo by Brian Brooks/indieWIRE

Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank" and Javier Rebello's "Woman Without Piano" are the joint winners of the AFI Fest New Lights Competition. The event hosted its awards ceremony Thursday night at the historic Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Blvd. following the closing night U.S. premiere of Tom Ford's "A Single Man" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. The film's stars including Colin Firth, Ginnifer Goodwin, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Goode, and Ryan Simpkins attended the screening along with other celebs.

"I'd like to thank Rose [Kuo] and everybody at AFI and IFC [the film's distributor] for championing independent film," said actor Michael Fassbender reading a statement from the director Thursday night. Unfortunately, the crowd chatted during the short awards presentation, so some of the moments the films might have received were drowned out.

Actress and filmmaker Angela Bassett, who chaired the jury, presented the awards, and "Fish Tank" star Michael Fassbender accepted the prize on behalf of the film. Also serving on this year's jury were actress/filmmaker Julie Delpy, journalist/author Bill Krohn, Buenos Aries International Independent Film Festival (BAFICI) Artistic Director Sergio Wolf and Hong Kong filmmaker Yonfan.

"The establishment of the AFI Fest New Lights Competition has been one of many highlights for this year's festival," said AFI Fest Artistic Director Rose Kuo in a statement. "Led by Angela Bassett, our jury enjoyed and deliberated over a truly outstanding group of films, and ultimately decided that the award should be shared by these two amazing works of art."

New Lights Competition Award Winners:

"Fish Tank"
Director: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Harry Treadaway, Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing
Producer: Kees Kasander
Exececutive Producer: Christine Langan, David M. Thompson, Paul Trijbits, UK

"Woman Without Piano" (La Mujer Sin Piano)
Director: Javier Rebello
Cast: Jan Budar, Esperanza De la Vega, Tomas del Estal, Nadia de Santiago
Executive Producer: Damian Paris, Stefan Schmitz, Maria Zamora Spain/France

Special Jury Mention

"Ajami"
Director: Scandar Copti, Yaron Shani
Cast: Fouad Habash, Nisrine Rihan, Elias Saba, Youssef Sahwani
Producer: Moshe Danon, Thanassis Karathanos
Executive Producer: James Richardson Israel/Germany

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