The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is proud to introduce Jury Prizes, deliberated on by an esteemed panel of filmmakers, journalists and experts. After reviewing a select number of films playing in competition, they have selected winners across six categories. In addition to Jury Prizes for Narrative and Documentary Feature, and Short Film, other Jury Prizes include an Emerging Filmmaker Prize to be awarded to a rising creative talent, whose film shows exceptional skill and artistry. The Building Bridges Prize honors the film that most exemplifies the mission of AJFF, informed by founder and partner American Jewish Committee, to foster understanding among communities of diverse religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
Rounding out the list of new awards is the Human Rights Prize, awarded to the film that most powerfully captures the perseverance and strength in those whose sense of justice guides them in the face of bigotry, inequality and/or persecution.
Take look at the Jury Prize winners for this year and the jury's feedback as to why they were chosen.
Narrative Jury Prize: Fanny's Journey
"The moving, beautifully realized story of a young Jewish girl who led a group of children to safety during the Holocaust. Compellingly acted by young leads and elegantly directed by Lola Doillon, Fanny’s Journey adeptly balances the brightness of the human spirit with the darkness of its depravity."
Documentary Jury Prize: Aida's Secrets
"The affecting account of two long-lost brothers, one raised in Canada and the other in Israel, who discover each other and attempt to uncover the story behind their separation after the Holocaust. Both historical and deeply personal, Aida’s Secrets is a powerful human tale about the meaning of family."
Emerging Filmmaker Jury Prize: Eran Kolirin, Beyond the Mountains and Hills
"Beyond the Mountains and Hills shows us an Israeli family in the throes of various crises that intersect in surprising and illuminating ways, giving us new insights into the contemporary Israeli landscape. The director seamlessly interweaves realistic and poetic imagery to create a cinematic picture of life at the edge of change."
Building Bridges Jury Prize: The 90 Minute War
"When all else fails, the unthinkable becomes plausible. The 90 Minute War depicts in small and large ways the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Through its realistic characters and complex parallel narratives, the film illustrates -- with occasional humor and nuanced wit -- that anything besides compromise in this conflict would be absurd."
Human Rights Jury Prize: The Freedom to Marry
"This film is an insightful examination into the history behind the struggle for marriage equality. Even though viewers may well and probably do know the outcome, it keeps them engaged and invested in learning the critical journey and the key players in the extra-legal battle. Helps the viewer understand both the legal process in taking a human rights case to the Supreme Court and the need to galvanize public opinion."
Shorts Jury Prize: The Last Blintz
"It is no easy feat to juggle themes such as gentrification, Jewish history, community activism and personal loss within the confines of a half hour. But that's exactly what this film does, using the setting of an old New York establishment to explore the way memories come to define iconic locations to the point where change seems unthinkable — and then arrives, no matter how much resistance there is to stop it. For its ability to present a powerful ode to nostalgia and a wistful portrait of the march of time, we award our top prize to The Last Blintz."
And, a special thank you to our inaugural jury. This year’s festival would not have looked the same without them.