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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

AFI Fest 2018 Announces Jury and Audience Awards

The AFI Fest is an annual program hosted by the American Film Institute. Once again, the Fest has brought the best in global cinema to Los Angeles thanks to the visionary support of Audi — now in its 15th consecutive year as Presenting Sponsor of the festival. AFI is a platform for showcasing for the best festival films of the year and an opportunity for master filmmakers and emerging artists to come together with audiences in the movie capital of the world. Celebrating its 32nd edition, AFI Fest is the only festival of its stature that is free to the public. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognizes AFI Fest as a qualifying festival for all of the Short Film categories for the annual Academy Awards®. This year's festival took place November 8–15, 2018. For additional information about AFI and the AFI Fest got to You can also connect with AFI Fest on Facebook at, on Twitter at and on YouTube at

The 2018 feature and Shorts winners include the following Jury and Audience Award recipients.

The Biggest Little Farm directed by John Chester won the Audience Award, Best Feature. In a surprise turn a documentary took this category's award. This is a poignant and charming documentary, which chronicles the eight-year effort of an ambitious, life-changing personal venture of the filmmaker moving out of Los Angeles with his wife, Molly, and building a diverse, sustainable farm. In these times, it's really no surprise that such a topic would grab the attention of an urban audience.

The Audience Award for a Short went to Period. End of Sentence. directed by Lisa Taback, Garrett Schiff, Melissa Berton, and Rayka Zehtabchi. This group of filmmakers document an effort to improve feminine hygiene the utilizes the creation of a machine that creates low-cost biodegradable sanitary pads. The machines were installed in a rural village in Northern India, and the results were captured on film to create a compelling documentation of women's issues in a male controlled world.

The Grand Jury Award for Live-Action Short went to War Paint directed by Katrelle Kindred. The Jury Statement is as follows, “We picked this film for its powerful intersectional narrative which focuses on the difficult aspects of one girl’s coming of age.” In the film a young, South LA black girl experiences a series of events that intersect racism and sexism during the Fourth of July holiday. The filmmaker, Katrelle Kindred is an AFI Directing Workshop for Women alum from the Class of 2018, and War Paint was her AFI DWW short. And the fine quality of this film is not just that of AFI; the film had its world-premiere earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

The Grand Jury Award for Animated Short went to Egg directed by Martina Scarpelli. The Jury Statement for this film was, “We chose this film for its visceral portrayal of the relationship between a woman and her body.” A powerful analysis for a film which revolves around a woman locked in her home with an egg. She eats the egg, then repents. She kills it. And then she lets the egg die of hunger. The analogy is palpable.

There were also Honorable Mentions for Social Impact Short (Magical Alps), Best Documentary Short (Period. End of Sentence), and for Acting (A Siege). The Shorts jury was comprised of actor Alison Becker (Parks and Recreation), director Chinonye Chukwu, TCM host Alicia Malone, content creator Michael Mohan (Everything Sucks!), comedian Eliza Skinner (The Late Late Show with James Corden) and comedian, actress, writer Sasheer Zamata (former Saturday Night Live cast member).

This year the complete AFI Fest program included 135 titles (84 features, four episodic, 47 shorts), representing 45 countries, including 65 films directed by women, 29 documentaries and nine animated films. This year’s program includes nine official Best Foreign Language Film Oscar® submissions, and 24 films featuring 52 AFI Conservatory alumni credits, throughout the sections.

The many highlights of the festival included Conversations with Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Natalie Portman and Rob Marshall; the Indie Contenders Roundtable featuring Willem Dafoe, Richard E. Grant, Kathryn Hahn, Felicity Jones, Joanna Kulig, Thomasin McKenzie, Rosamund Pike and John C. Reilly; the Documentary Roundtable featured Alexis Bloom (Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes), Talal Derki (Of Fathers and Sons), Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (Free Solo), Morgan Neville (Won't You Be My Neighbor?), RaMell Ross (Hale County This Morning, This Evening), Jed Rothstein (Enemies: The President, Justice & The FBI), Sandi Tan (Shirkers), Rudy Valdez (The Sentence) and Betsy West (RBG); a panel with foreign filmmakers Rima Das (Village Rockstars), Sophie Dupuis (Family First), Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (Never Look Away) and László Nemes (Sunset); a panel with female film critics; and much more.

With so much talent and filmmaking expertise in attendance it's hard to believe there's a better annual festival in the LA area than AFI Fest. If you made it to at least one event this year, you already know what I'm talking about. If you have yet to discover the magic of this annual cinematic celebration, then I encourage you to not do it again, and be prepared for AFI Fest 2019. You will be impressed.

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