AFI Fest 2017 presented by Audi announces Award Winners; THE INSULT, Lebanon’s submission to Oscar 2018 wins major award

By Oliver Carnay

Hollywood, CA (November 11, 2017) -AFI Fest’s 31st edition ended last Thursday with the Closing Night film “Molly’s Game” with a tribute to director Aaron Sorkin. A day after (Friday), Audience Award winners for World Cinema, New Auteurs, and American Independents were announced.

“THE INSULT”, Lebanon�s official Best Foreign Language Film Oscar� submission, won the World Cinema Audience Award. Directed by Ziad Doueiri, 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. Set in Beirut, an insult blown out of proportions finds Toni, a Lebanese Christian, and Yasser, a Palestinian refugee, in court. From secret wounds to traumatic revelations, the media circus surrounding the case puts Lebanon through a social explosion, forcing Toni and Yasser to reconsider their lives and prejudices. (This is one of my top favorite films seen at the recent AFIFEST!)

The New Auteurs Audience Award went to “WHAT WILL PEOPLE SAY” directed by Iram Haq), which is a powerful story of a young woman growing up between two cultures, with no control over her life choices, where she must carve out her own path despite a significant culture clash.

The Audience Award for American Independents was awarded to “BODIED”, directed by Joseph Kahn. Kahn’s auteur style defies anticipations. In this sci-fi feature, a white boy explores rap battle vernacular, immersed in a subculture that is simply spectacular.

The Grand Jury Award for Live Action Short was given to “GAZE”, directed by Farnoosh Samadi. From Jury’s 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.

The Grand Jury Award for Animated Short went to “THE BURDEN”, directed by Niki Lindroth von Bahr — “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,” according to Jury’s statement during the announcement.

The film “SILICA” directed by Pia Borg, was given a Special Jury Mention, recognizing Borg’s “beautifully composed, lush 35mm cinematography. Her blend of vivid landscape photography with microscopic and CG elements elevates this exploration of territorial constructs.”

The Shorts Jury was comprised of Jeffrey Bowers (Senior Curator, Vimeo), Moira Griffin (Executive Director of Production, Creative Labs, 21st Century Fox) and Nathan Silver (director, ACTOR MARTINEZ, THIRST STREET). The Grand Jury Award winners for Live-Action and Animated Short, as decided by the Shorts Jury, will be automatically eligible for the Academy Award� shortlists in the Best Live Action Short and Best Animated Short categories.