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AFI Fest 2018 Highlights and Award Winners

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As another year of AFI Fest closes, the 2018 festival circuit winds down too. For eight days, filmmakers and fans descended upon Hollywood Boulevard to behold some of the year’s most celebrated films.

In a year focused on diversity, AFI Fest programmers set out to present a slate of films more representative of the changing industry. Opening with “On the Basis of Sex” and closing with “Mary Queen of Scots,” this year’s festival presented a schedule in which 48% of its films were directed by women. These offerings included features, shorts, and episodic entries from 45 countries.

Patty Jenkins’ TNT limited series, “I Am the Night,” showcased its first episode to a packed audience. Netflix premiered Susanne Bier’s new horror, “Bird Box,” at a gala on Monday night, and Karyn Kusama introduced “Destroyer” on Tuesday.

Other premieres included Jon S. Baird’s Laurel & Hardy biopic, “Stan & Ollie,” and a surprise exhibition of the new Aretha Franklin documentary, “Amazing Grace.”

In total, 135 films screened throughout the week, with nine official submissions for Best Foreign Language Film. And besides film screenings, the American Film Institute continued its commitment to educate and preserve the legacy of cinematic arts with conversations. Some of these participants included Melissa McCarthy and Marielle Heller discussion “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” The Indie Contenders Roundtable panelists were John C. Reilly, Rosamund Pike, Kathryn Hahn, Richard E. Grant, Willem Dafoe, Felicity Jones, Joanna Kulig, and Thomasin McKenzie.

Due to devastating fires in the neighboring county, nearly all gala red carpets were cancelled. But, as they say in the business, the show must go on. And that it did.

On Friday morning, organizers presented the Jury and Audience Awards to the following winners:

Audience Award — Feature

“The Biggest Little Farm,” Dir. John Chester

Audience Award — Short

“Period. End of Sentence,” Dir. Lisa Taback, Garrett Schiff, Melissa Berton, Rayka Zehtabchi

Grand Jury Award — Live-Action Short

“War Paint,” Dir. Katrelle Kindred

Grand Jury Award — Animated Short

“EGG,” Dir. Martina Scarpelli

Honorable Mention for Social Impact Short

“Magic Alps,” Dir. Andrea Brusa, Marco Scotuzzi

Honorable Mention for Best Documentary Short

“Period. End of Sentence,” Dir. Lisa Taback, Garrett Schiff, Melissa Berton, Rayka Zehtabchi

Honorable Mention for Acting — Short

Vedrana Bozinovic, “A Siege”

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to AFI Programmers for another successful festival.

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Written by Karen M. Peterson

Karen Peterson is a writer from Southern California. When she is not at the ballpark cheering on her LA Angels, she can usually be found in a movie theater or in front of the television. Karen is obsessed with awards shows, and loves everything from the smallest indie film to the biggest of big budget spectacles. She is also unapologetically in love with Tom Cruise.


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