Announcing AFI DOCS 2019 Award Winners – American Film Institute


Announcing AFI DOCS 2019 Award Winners

The American Film Institute has announced the AFI DOCS 2019 Award Winners, concluding the five-day festival supported by Presenting Sponsor AT&T in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, MD.  The festival’s Audience Award for Best Feature went to CHASING THE MOON, directed by Robert Stone.  The Audience Award for Best Short went to ST. LOUIS SUPERMAN, directed by Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan. 

This year’s competitive Short Films slate included a voting jury comprised of film producer Dolly Turner, documentary filmmaker Gabriella Garcia-Pardo and The Washington Post’s pop culture writer Elahe Izadi.  The Grand Jury Prize for Short Films went to IN THE ABSENCE, directed by Yi Seung-Jun.  The jury said of IN THE ABSENCE: “…a sweeping account that stuns. Through an exhaustive sourcing of content, the filmmaker precisely and chillingly weaves together a haunting tapestry that calls into question the trust we place in authority.”

The jury also awarded an honorable mention to A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA, directed by Sophia Nahli Allison, whom the jury called “an emerging artist.”  The jury described the film as “[a] relevant and intimate portrait depicting the trauma that stems from America’s insidious racism and how that lingers beyond a single violent moment.”  An honorable mention also went to SCENES FROM A DRY CITY, “an eerily crafted dystopian snapshot that both underscores the privilege of water and the United Nations’ recent exhortation for ‘rapid and unprecedented action’ to mitigate climate change,” directed by Francois Verster and Simon Wood.

Pictured above: CHASING THE MOON

Comments (2)


Why is a 361 minute series considered a “feature film” and in competition with the other feature film-length documentaries shown at AFIDocs? As a full-pass holder and dedicated AFIDocs attendee for the last 15 years, I honestly don’t understand how the special screening of the Chasing The Moon series qualifies for the audience award. Please explain. Thank you.

Jo-Ann Neuhaus

Thank you for this year’s AFI DOCS; looking forward to more docs next year. Unfortunately, they do not receive the wide circulation in the cinema they deserve. I remember the days of my youth when one saw newsreels, a cartoon, and a feature film. I really can’t recall if there was a second film but don’t think so. This was not the first run of the film in downtown Manhattan, but it was what the local RKO or Loews cinema (I think the second local cinema was called the Loews) would screen. I do wish that our local cinema would consider screening a documentary along with a feature film. Perhaps you can pass that along to the corporate office of the E Street and Bethesda Row cinema company. The documentaries I saw b(oth at the festival and prior to it (I was fortunate to be invited) were absolutely terrific – some were better than some feature films I saw during the year!

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