AFI graduate Ernst Gossner's feature directorial debut South Of Pico has won the 11th Annual American Black Film Festival's (ABFF) grand jury prize for best picture.

ABFF sponsor Heineken also presented Gossner with its Red Star Award recognising 'originality, innovation and vision in film', while South Of Pico star Henry Simmons, best known for his work on Shark and NYPD Blue, took home the festival's best actor honours.

US distributors are understood to be circling the film, which is inspired by actual events about the lives of four people whose lives intersect after they witness a car accident. Gina Torres and Kip Pardue also star.

Gossner wrote the screenplay and developed it in the Berlin Film Festival Script Clinic. Eric Presley, Richard Marcus and Gossner produced and Ralf Mosig and Jeffrey R Iorio served as executive producers.