Festival director Jacqueline Lyanga opened this morning’s AFI FEST Awards brunch citing the record number of filmmakers who attended the festival this year, and many of those were gathered in the Cinema Lounge at the Roosevelt Hotel to recognize the achievements that made up the 30th iteration of the annual fest.
With an acting prize and two audience awards, Houda Benyamina’s “Divines” was the festival’s most-recognized film. (Judging by the reaction in the lounge, it was also a favorite among the filmmakers and patrons gathered.) When introducing the film’s New Auteurs Audience Award prize, AFI FEST Director of Programming Lane Kneedler explained how “Divines” became a festival favorite even after coming in late in the programming process.
Martin Zandvliet’s “Land of Mine” took the World Cinema Audience Award. “The movie is a hard sell,” Zandvliet said, accepting the prize.
“Unfortunately, it’s very contemporary due to the times we live in today,” he explained, citing that 25 individuals die every day from land mines outside of active war zones.
AFI viewers selected Kris Avedisian’s film “Donald Cried” for the American Independents Audience Award, and writer/Producer Kyle Espeleta accepted the award on the film’s behalf, joking, “This is the only film festival I can walk to from my apartment.”
This year, the festival brought back a Breakthrough honoree, establishing an Audience Award to preserve the spirit of the section that was absent from this year’s program. That award also went to “Divines.” The festival’s New Auteurs jury, featuring IndieWire’s own Michael Nordine, honored “Divines” star Oulaya Amamra for her lead role, which Claudia Puig used their jury remarks to describe her work as a “star-making turn.”
For their New Auteurs Grand Jury Award, the trio of jurors selected Nele Wohlatz’s debut narrative feature “El futuro perfecto (The Future Perfect).” Wohlatz took the stage to thank the festival, adding that the post-screening discussion after the film’s AFI US Premiere screening “was my nicest Q&A.”
Daniel Sawka’s “Icebox” (itself an AFI thesis film) won the Grand Jury Award for Live Action Short, while Renata Gasiorowska’s “Pussy (Cipka)” took home the prize for Animated Short.
See the full list of winners below:
New Auteurs Grand Jury Award: “The Future Perfect”
New Auteurs Special Jury Mention for Acting: Oulaya Amamra for “Divines”
Grand Jury Award – Live Action Short: “Icebox”
Grand Jury Award – Animated Short: “Pussy (Cipka)”
Live Action Short Special Mention for Comedic Narrative: “Hounds”
Live Action Short Special Mention for Documentary: “The Send-Off”
Live Action Short Special Mention for Acting: “Dreaming of Baltimore”
Live Action Short Special Mention for Cinematography: “A Thousand Midnights”
Live Action Short Special Mention: “Speaking is Difficult”
Animated Short Special Jury Mention: “Summer Camp Island”
Animated Short Special Jury Mention for Mixed Media: “Deer Flower”
Animated Short Special Jury Mention for Visual Aesthetics: “Superbia”
World Cinema Audience Award: “Land of Mine”
New Auteurs Audience Award: “Divines”
American Independents Audience Award: “Donald Cried”
Breakthrough Audience Award: “Divines”
Breakthrough Audience Award First Runner-Up: “One Week and a Day”
Breakthrough Audience Award Second Runner-Up: “The Red Turtle”
Best of Fest screenings for AFI FEST presented by Audi will continue all day long at the Chinese Theatres in Hollywood.