“The Midnight Swim” Takes Home Breakthrough Audience Award at AFI Fest


The past week, Hollywood Blvd. has been crowded beyond normal. Replacing the tourists were filmmakers, critics, and eager movie goers, all catching various films at AFI Fest. The American Film Institute’s annual festival highlights master and emerging filmmakers from all over the world. As well as showing the 120 films selected for competition,  AFI had special screenings, galas and tributes. This year, Oscar buzz worthy films “Foxcatcher,” (Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, directed by Bennett Miller) and “Still Alice” (Julianne Moore, directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland) were among the many non-competition films treated to audience.

While jury and audience awards are not new to film festivals, the audience award from AFI is slightly different from other fests. AFI offers free tickets to the public, allowing any movie lover the chance to watching rate the films. This year, “The Midnight Swim,” was honored with the Breakthrough Audience Award. The film, written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith, blurs the line between ghost story and family drama. After their mother goes missing in Spirit Lake, three sisters come together to settle her affair. On their first night, the sisters, played by Lindsay Burdge, Jennifer Lafleur and Aleksa Palladino, try to conjure a spirit, leading their relationship to unravel as they are led deep into the mystery of the lake.

“Red Army,” “Gueros,” and “10,000 KM” also took home audience awards.

Check out the complete list of winners:
New Auteurs Critics’ Award:SELF MADE (BOREG). DIR Shira Geffen. Israel.
VIZIO Visionary Special Jury Award: THE TRIBE (PLEMYA). DIR Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy. Ukraine.
Special Jury Mention for Screenwriting: GÜEROS. SCR Alonso Ruizpalacios, Gibran Portela. Mexico.
Special Jury Mention for Cinematography: VIOLET. CIN Nicolas Karakatsanis. Netherlands, Belgium.


Grand Jury Award for Live Action Short: BUFFALO JUGGALOS. DIR Scott Cummings
Grand Jury Award for Animated Short: YEARBOOK. DIR Bernardo Britto.
Special Jury Mention for Collection: David O’Reilly for CHILDREN’S SONG, NDA and WRONG NUMBER
Special Jury Mention for Breakthrough Filmmaker: Joe Callander for GARY HAS AN AIDS SCARE
Special Jury Mention for Vision: Kevin Jerome Everson for SOUND THAT
Special Jury Mention for Outstanding Achievement in Direction: Morgan Knibbe for SHIPWRECK

World Cinema Audience Award: RED ARMY. DIR Gabe Polsky. USA, Russia.
New Auteurs Audience Award: GÜEROS. DIR Alonso Ruizpalacios. Mexico.
American Independents Audience Award: 10,000 KM. DIR Carlos Marques-Marcet. Spain, USA.
Breakthrough Audience Award (award accompanied by a $5,000 cash prize): THE MIDNIGHT SWIM. DIR Sarah Adina Smith. USA.

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