Los Angeles’ own AFI FEST came to its end last night, thanks to a splashy — and, given the last-minute pulling of Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World,” very welcome — screening of Aaron Sorkin’s “Molly’s Game.” To cap off the annual event, the festival has now announced its winners for both Audience and Jury awards. Even better, the Grand Jury Award winners for Live-Action and Animated Short will be automatically eligible for the Academy Award shortlists in the Best Live Action Short and Best Animated Short categories.
Highlights include Ziad Doueiri’s “The Insult,” which won the Audience Award for the robust World Cinema section, which boasted a number of Oscar contenders amongst its always wide-ranging ranks. Elsewhere, Joseph Kahn’s “Bodied” pulled in an Audience Award in the American Independents section, giving the Toronto premiere its third audience award of the season, joining accolades from both TIFF and Fantastic Fest.
“As the 31st edition of AFI FEST comes to a close, this year’s awards shine a light on the American independent, auteur and foreign cinema that resonated with our audiences and jurors,” said Jacqueline Lyanga, AFI FEST Director, in an official statement. “Audience awards help bring film lovers together, while building momentum for the filmmakers in this year’s festival.”
Check out the full list of winners, including synopses right from AFI FEST.
Audience Award – World Cinema
“The Insult” (DIR Ziad Doueiri)
Lebanon’s official Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submission, this engrossing and unforgettable tale of modern life in the Middle East is a razor-sharp look at a country’s long-simmering resentments toward Palestinian refugees, and its traumatized civil war wounds.
Audience Award – New Auteurs
“What Will People Say” (DIR Iram Haq)
Iram Haq’s sophomore feature is a powerful story of a young woman growing up between two cultures, with no control over her life choices, who must carve out her own path despite a significant culture clash.
Audience Award – American Independents
“Bodied” (DIR Joseph Kahn)
Whether it’s sci-fi, satire, or race relations, Joseph Kahn’s auteur style defies anticipations. In “Bodied,”a white boy explores rap battle vernacular, immersed in a subculture that’s simply spectacular.
Grand Jury Award for Live Action Short
“Gaze” (DIR Farnoosh Samadi)
Jury Statement: “No good deed goes unpunished” is the phrase that stays with the viewer as you watch the film that captured the top honor this year. The filmmaker lures you in and then, like any classic thriller, hooks you until the final gasp — the low hum of a motorbike replacing John Williams’ iconic notes in ‘Jaws.’ Underneath, the film is a subtle examination of class and gender in Iranian society.
Grand Jury Award for Animated Short
“The Burden” (DIR Niki Lindroth von Bahr)
Jury Statement: “A film whose stranded, unremarkable inhabitants convey the weight of the world through song and dance and reveal the anguish we all feel about life.”
Special Jury Mention
“Silica” (DIR Pia Borg)
Jury Statement: “We would like to recognize Borg’s beautifully composed, lush 35mm cinematography. Her blend of vivid landscape photography with microscopic and CG elements elevates this exploration of territorial constructs.”