The AJFF Winners Are…
Local NewsAJFF 2019

The AJFF Winners Are…

With the addition of the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, 2019 was a game changer for the AJFF, which attracted more than 38,000 moviegoers to venues across Atlanta.

Atlanta Jewish Film Festival jurors chose winners in six categories.
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival jurors chose winners in six categories.

This year’s Atlanta Jewish Film Festival attracted more than 38,000 moviegoers who enjoyed films at venues across Atlanta, including the newest, at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center.

AJFF Executive Director Kenny Blank considers this year’s festival a massive success.

“2019 was a gamechanger for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival,” he said. “The addition of the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center delivered a first-class, ultra-convenient moviegoing experience, while simultaneously opening up access to audiences at venues across metro Atlanta.”

With the festival now complete, six films walked away with the prestigious AJFF jury prizes. Each jury consisted of three panelists, from community leaders and filmmakers, to undergraduate film students, each of whom brought their own unique experience to the process.

Here are 2019’s jury prize winners, with brief commentary from the juries:

“Promise at Dawn” for Narrative Eric Barbier, director – France

“‘Promise at Dawn’ movingly chronicles the complex, almost compulsive relationship between Romain Gary and his mother, … who drove him to greatness against all odds in a Europe torn by anti-Semitism and war. … It features revelatory performances by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Pierre Niney.”

“The Waldheim Waltz” for Documentary Ruth Beckermann, director – Austria

“‘The Waldheim Waltz,’ … uses a personal entrance into the Waldheim controversy. The juxtaposition of intimate and political narratives encourages audiences to draw modern day parallels. … The film reveals Austria’s ambivalence in reckoning with its history.”

“Fig Tree,” for Emerging Filmmaker Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian, director – Ethiopia, France, Germany and Israel

“Davidian gently reveals an accomplished recreation of a world filled with the palpable anxieties of love and survival. Told through the eyes of a teenage woman, [the film’s] skillful and beautiful immersive filmmaking viscerally portrays the truth of uncertainty while maintaining the ephemeral innocence of youth.”

“The Interpreter” for Building Bridges Martin Šulík, director – Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia

“We salute ‘The Interpreter’ for its incredibly complex, sophisticated and multi-dimensional narrative. … Striking imagery, troubling revelations and one remarkable plot twist at the end offer a fresh look at the still-difficult work of coming to terms with past atrocities.”

“The Accountant of Auschwitz” for Human Rights Matthew Shoychet, director – Canada

“For its brutal honesty and in-depth examination of both the survivors of concentration camps and the surviving Nazis who brutalized them, the 2019 Human Rights Jury presents its award to Matthew Shoychet’s ‘The Accountant of Auschwitz.’”

“I Have a Message for You” for Shorts Matan Rochlitz, director – Israel, Italy and United Kingdom

“‘I Have a Message for You,’ directed by Matan Rochlitz, is an immediately engaging and emotionally compelling story. … The candor of this irascible and vibrant 92-year- old woman, combined with superb filmmaking, makes this film the standout for the AJFF shorts program.”

In addition to the jury prizes, the AJFF also awards three audience prizes, based on festival-goer’s rankings on a four-point scale. The winners were: “Shoelaces,” for narrative; “Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz” for documentary; “I Have a Message for You” for shorts.

Now with the 19th year in the books, Blank is looking ahead to a big milestone. “Many of the hassles sometimes associated with attending a popular event like AJFF are now effectively a thing of the past,” he said. “With this new model for success, we look forward to welcoming new and returning audiences for our 20th anniversary year in 2020.”

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