‘Those Who Remained,’ ‘Shared Legacies,’ Top 20th Annual Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Jury Prize Winners
As the 20th annual Atlanta Jewish Film Festival wrapped up Thursday night with a closing night screening of the documentary “Saul and Ruby, To Life!” at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, festival organizers announced this year’s jury award winners.
“The 2020 AJFF Jury, comprised of industry leaders, academics, and faculty-nominated film majors, deliberated and have chosen a handful of standout films to win the esteemed jury prizes in selected categories for this year,” said AJFF executive director Kenny Blank. “We thank them for their participation in this year’s event and celebrate the films and filmmakers who are richly deserving of these accolades we’re so proud to bestow upon them.”
Below is a complete list of 2020 AJFF Jury Prize winners, jury members and jury statements:
2020 Narrative Jury Prize
“Those Who Remained,” 2019, Hungary, Barnabás Tóth, Director
About the film: This drama reveals the healing process of Holocaust survivors through the eyes of a young girl in post-World War II Hungary.
The Narrative Prize went to the feature-length fiction film that exceeds all others in total artistry, direction, script, cinematography, acting, and overall storytelling. Narrative jury participants included: Carol Littleton (film editor); Jill Savitt (President and CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and former acting director of the Simon-Skiodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum); Noah Washington (media entrepreneur major at Georgia State University).
AJFF jurors stated: “’Those Who Remained’ stands out as the film that exemplifies the purpose of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, to bring people together. This intimately painted picture takes you through depravity, hope, loss, and love and how human connections are formed and nurtured.”
2020 Documentary Jury Prize
“Rewind,” 2019, USA, Sasha Joseph Neulinger, Director
About the film: Digging through the vast collection of his father’s home videos, a young man reconstructs the unthinkable story of his boyhood and exposes abuse passed through generations.
This Documentary Prize went to the feature-length non-fiction film that exceeds all others in total artistry, direction, script, cinematography, acting, and overall storytelling. Documentary jury participants included: Barry Avrich (filmmaker); Rich Eldredge (journalist); Minnie Yang (filmmaker and photographer majoring in media studies and history at Emory University).
AJFF jurors stated: “This was the documentary jury’s unanimous selection. It’s a brave, uncensored and raw depiction of sexual abuse and the emotional journey to recovery. The filmmaker places the viewer beside him on his harrowing investigation of two generations of family secrets and betrayal. A fascinating, impressive and unforgettable debut film.”
2020 Shorts Jury Prize
Best Short: “Mum’s Hairpins,” 2019, Russia, Tatiana Fedorovskaya, Director
About the film: In 1941 Ukraine, a box containing his mother’s hairpins — the only thing left from his family — is a boy’s last chance to escape German invaders and rescue his new friend, a wounded goat.
The Shorts Prize went to the film, with a run time of 40 minutes or fewer, which exceeds all others in total artistry, direction, script, cinematography, acting, and overall storytelling. Shorts jury participants included: Keisha Burnette (Director of Business & Legal Affairs at the Game Show Network and former senior attorney for the City of Atlanta’s Law Department); Steve Denker (Senior Director of Marketing for Turner Classic Movies); Amarachi Smith (undergraduate student from Clark Atlanta University studying Fashion Design).
AJFF jurors stated: “A beautifully told cinematic story of survival in the face of sudden and incredible loss, ‘Mum’s Hairpins’ took us on a symbolic journey through the eyes of a child, forced to grow up in an instant.”
2020 Emerging Filmmaker Jury Prize
“My Polish Honeymoon,” 2018, French, Élise Otzenberger, Director
About the film: A young couple from Paris with Polish Jewish origins visit Poland for the first time and are introduced to their family’s birth village and history.
An Emerging Filmmaker Prize was awarded to a rising creative talent, whose film shows exceptional skill and artistry. Emerging Filmmaker jury participants included: Anita Busch (former film editor for Deadline.com, The Hollywood Reporter, and Variety); Jeffrey Stepakoff (writer-producer and founding Executive Director of the Georgia Film Academy); Nate Johansen (undergraduate student from University of North Georgia studying to be a scriptwriter).
AJFF jurors stated: “’My Polish Honeymoon’ is a film that engages the spirit, displaying Ms. Otzenberger’s ability to tackle a difficult subject with a subtleness and competence not often seen in an emerging filmmaker.”
2020 Building Bridges Jury Prize
“Shared Legacies: The African American-Jewish Civil Rights Alliance,” 2020, USA, Shari Rodgers, Director
About the film: A documentary about the often forgotten story of the coalition and friendship between the Jewish and African-American communities during the Civil Rights Movement.
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. Building Bridges jury participants included: Shawn Guthrie (Senior Manager for the Student Academy Awards); Stephanie Guiloff (Deputy director for advocacy at the American Jewish Committee); Denver Edmonds (undergraduate student from Spelman College studying filmmaking).
AJFF jurors stated: “’Shared Legacies’ embodied the concept behind the Building Bridges Jury Prize by fostering understanding between seemingly disparate communities, creating connections that strengthened the plight for justice and equality, and showed the possibilities that can result from allowing ourselves to see the other.”
2020 Human Rights Jury Prize
“The Passengers,” 2019, USA, Ryan S. Porush, Director
About the film: This doc follows two young men from an abandoned Ethiopian Jewish community on a fateful trip to America and a quest to become Israeli citizens.
The Human Rights Prize is awarded to the film that most powerfully captures the perseverance and strength of those whose sense of justice guides them in the face of bigotry, inequality, and persecution. Human Rights jury participants included: Adam Greenberg (Cinematographer); Mary Schmidt Campbell (10th president of Spelman College and an American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellow); Gabriela Reyes (undergraduate student from University of North Georgia studying film and English).
AJFF jurors stated: “Our pick for the Human Rights Prize is ‘The Passengers.’ It captures an incredible moment of strength and hope prevailing in the face of a most cruel injustice, managing to both inspire and provoke.”
Richard L. Eldredge is the founder and editor in chief of Eldredge ATL. As a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Atlanta magazine, he has covered Atlanta since 1990.