Big congrats to Kenyan director David Tosh Gitonga, as his feature film debut, Nairobi Half Life, which S&A has covered plenty, has been awarded the Audience Breakthrough Award at the AFI FEST 2012, presented by Audi. 

The award comes with a $5,000 cash prize.

And Student Academy Award winner Narcocorrido which stars Nicki Michaeux, directed by Ryan Prows also picked up an award for Honorable Mention for Performance: fir co-star Raul Castillo.

Also, winning the award for Special Mention for Performancefor her contribution to the suspense/drama Simon Killer as both an actress and screenwriter, is Mati Diop.

The complete list of winners follows below:


Encore Screenings of Selected Award-Winning Films at the Chinese 6 Theatres Today


The jury is comprised exclusively of film writers: Dana Harris (Indiewire), David Hudson (Fandor), Gregg Kilday (The Hollywood Reporter) and Bérénice Reynaud (Senses of Cinema).

Grand Jury Award: EAT SLEEP DIE for director Gabriela Pichler’s “sensitive portrait of a young woman fighting to keep her job and her dignity in the globalized economy, driven by an energetic performance from Nermina Lukac, is an extraordinary work accessible to many audiences.”

Special Mention for Performance: SIMON KILLER’s (DIR Antonio Campos) Mati Diop for “her contribution to SIMON KILLER as both an actress and screenwriter.”

Special Mention: HERE AND THERE by Antonio Mendez Esparza for “its honest depiction of lives that are otherwise often invisible in our society.”


This year’s Shorts jury consisted of Claudette Godfrey (Short Film Programmer for the South by Southwest Film Conference); Mike Plante (Sundance Film Festival Programmer, publisher of Cinemad and filmmaker); Ry Russo-Young (NOBODY WALKS); Ryan Silbert (Academy Award®-winning filmmaker, Live Action Short, GOD OF LOVE); and Jenny Slate (actress, best-selling author, and voice, co-writer and co-creator of MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON, winner of Best Animated Short at AFI FEST 2010).

Grand Jury Award, Live Action Short: INTRODUCING: BOBBY. by Roger Hayn “for crafting an honest vision of America by making an insightful portrayal of a single man.”

Grand Jury Award, Animated Short: OH WILLY… by Emma De Swaef and Marc Roels “for melding a dynamic narrative with innovative animation style that leads the viewer to pure wonderment.”

Special Jury Award for Animation: BELLY by Julia Pott “for its personal touch to technique and playful storytelling that is a welcome addition to the pantheon of animation.”

Special Jury Award for Documentary Filmmaking: WHATEVEREST by Kristoffer Borgli “for constructing a film that contextualizes the digital generation and reflects on what happens when we turn the camera onto ourselves.”

Honorable Mention for Performance: NARCOCORRIDO (DIR Ryan Prows) for Raul Castillo’s “penetrating lead performance that conveys a sense of loss that leaves a lasting mark on the audience.”

Honorable Mention for Promising Vision: DOGS ARE SAID TO SEE THINGS by Guto Parente “for pulling together social criticism with a pool party and actually making something fresh and smart.”


Audience Award, World Cinema: A ROYAL AFFAIR. DIR Nikolaj Arcel. Denmark/Sweden/Czech Republic/Germany.

Audience Award, New Auteurs: A HIJACKING. DIR Tobias Lindholm. Denmark.

Audience Award, Young Americans: ONLY THE YOUNG. DIR Jason Tippet, Elizabeth Mims. USA.

Audience Award, Breakthrough: NAIROBI HALF LIFE. DIR David Tosh Gitonga. Kenya/Germany. Award accompanied by a $5,000 cash prize.