ASFF 2019: Winners Announced

ASFF’s 2019 award-winners have been announced. With over 400 films in competition, the festival recognises outstanding talent in filmmaking – with each work becoming eligible for consideration at the BAFTAs.

All category winners were nominated for the Best of Fest Award, with only one film winning the grand prize. Taking home 2019’s accolade was Kofi and Lartey. Directed by Sasha Rainbow, the film tells the true story of a man from Agbogbloshie, dubbed one of the most toxic places on earth. We follow him as he empowers two young boys through photography and film.

Narrative and Documentary Features returned for a second year, spanning both personal and universal storylines. Director Iain Cunningham was awarded Best Feature for his documentary Irene’s Ghost. Cunningham’s first feature documentary depicts the search for information about the mother he never knew.

Thomas Vernay, Miss Chazelles.

Delving into hard-hitting topics, the Drama reel provides the largest part of ASFF’s film programme. This year’s Best Drama was awarded to Thomas Vernay for Miss Chazelles – the story of two young rivals. Best Thriller went to Madame, directed by Garth Jennings, widely known for family favourites including Sing (2016) and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005).

Comedy and Animation are two of ASFF’s best loved genres. Norteños directed by Grandmas, took home the award for Best Comedy, whilst Leszek Mozga was presented with the Best Animation award for Roadkill. 2019’s Documentary strand explored culturally rich and eye-opening projects from around the world. This year’s winner was Charby Ibrahim with Bright Lights – The Perils of the Pokies. The animated documentary reflects on the devastating consequences of gambling.

Tapping into brand ethos, LEONE’s L’Incredibile in partnership with Nike was awarded Best Advertising, whilst Best Fashion went to Lola’s Manifesto, directed by Gsus Lopez and Cristian Velasco. Usurping the idea of convention, Best Artists’ Film was presented to Rhea Storr for A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message. Best Experimental was awarded to Samona Olanipekun for Kindred, whilst The Golden Age directed by Eric Minh Cuong Castaing was presented with the award for Best Dance. Best Music Video went to Emmanuel Adjei for Shahmaran – Sevdaliza.

Introducing new digital playgrounds, ASFF also welcomed VR and Immersive films back into the competition for a second year. The winner was Virtual Viking – The Ambush, directed by Erik Gustavson. Filmed using 106 cameras, it captures Norway’s west coast, marking one of the first techniques in scripted VR drama.

Still from Norteños.

New for 2019, the Hijack Visionary Filmmaker Award recognised directors with exceptional vision and a unique cinematic voice. It was taken home by Ellie Rogers for They Found Her in a Field. The Film Hub North and BFI NETWORK Polaris Award celebrated the achievements of filmmakers based in the North of England. This year’s winner is Charlene Jones for Henceforth – an honest and raw project highlighting the grief of three siblings after the very recent loss of their parents.

Across the five-day run, festival-goers were invited to vote for their favourite film from the Official Selection. Chosen by audiences, this year’s People’s Choice Award was presented to Garry Crystal for the film Down, screening as part of the Drama category. The film is a claustrophobic short about two strangers trapped in a lift, starring Amanda Donohoe, James Eeles and Paul Barber.

ASFF continues to champion the next generation, igniting a lifelong relationship with cinema. Each year, the festival encourages young festival goers to choose their favourite film. 2019’s York Youth Award was given to Lasagne, directed by Hannah Hill.

Entries for the ninth-edition open 1 December, with the festival returning next year, 4 – 8 November 2020.

Lead image: Emmanuel Adjei, Shahmaran – Sevdaliza.