2019 AJFF Jury Prizes Announced


The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is pleased to announce the 2019 AJFF Jury Prize winners in six categories: Best Narrative, Best Documentary, Best Short, Emerging Filmmaker, Building Bridges, and Human Rights.

Each winner was determined by a committee of three jurors, drawn from a wide range of perspectives, including film industry veterans to community leaders and undergraduate film students. Learn more about the members of the 2019 AJFF Jury. We extend our deepest appreciation to this esteemed jury panel for their informed viewpoints and thoughtful deliberation.

See below for a complete list of 2019 AJFF Jury Prize winners and jury statements:

Narrative Jury Prize: Promise at Dawn

Eric Barbier, Director • France

Promise at Dawn movingly chronicles the complex, almost compulsive relationship between Romain Gary and his mother, the boundlessly determined, sometimes smothering woman who drove him to greatness against all odds in a Europe torn by antisemitism and war. Set against the epic backdrop of the European Jewish experience in the first half of the 20th century, it features revelatory performances by Charlotte Gainsburg and Pierre Neny.”

Documentary Jury Prize: The Waldheim Waltz

Ruth Beckermann, Director • Austria

"The Waldheim Waltz, a historical film with contemporary relevance, uses a personal entrance into the Waldheim controversy. The juxtaposition of intimate and political narratives encourages audiences to draw modern day parallels. These parallels are instrumental in that they generate an inspection of consequences as they apply to society and to one’s own history. The film reveals Austria’s ambivalence in reckoning with its history."

Emerging Filmmaker Jury Prize: Aäläm-Wärqe, Fig Tree

Aäläm-Wärqe Davidian, Director • Ethiopia, France, Germany, Israel

"The Emerging Filmmaker Award goes to Aalam-Warqe Davidian for Fig Tree. 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, Fig Tree’s skillful and beautiful immersive filmmaking viscerally portrays the truth of uncertainty while maintaining the ephemeral innocence of youth. "

Building Bridges Jury Prize: The Interpreter

Martin Šulík, Director • Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia

"All of these films illuminate different aspects of the difficult but essential work of building empathy across gulfs of misunderstanding, while recognizing the impossibility of ever reaching a fully “happy ending.” With that in mind, we salute The Interpreter for its incredibly complex, sophisticated and multi-dimensional narrative of the journey shared by two elderly men—a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust from Slovakia and a Viennese son of the commandant who shot his parents. 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."

Human Rights Jury Prize: The Accountant of Auschwitz

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.

Shorts Jury Prize: I Have a Message for You

Matan Rochlitz, Director • Israel, Italy, United Kingdom

"I Have a Message for You directed by Matan Rochlitz, is an immediately engaging and emotionally compelling story. The use of animation seamlessly blends the powerful, unique narrative of survival and love. The candor of this irascible and vibrant 92-year-old woman combined with superb filmmaking makes this film the stand-out for the AJFF shorts program."


Thank you again to our esteemed 2019 AJFF Jury, pictured below.