Lone Survivor” took another giant step in its awards push, as AFI Fest gave it a gala world premiere Tuesday at the TCL Chinese, followed by a reception.

As reported here Oct. 31 (“Lone Survivor Bursts into Awards Race”), the film is a serious contender for best pic, director and screenplay (both by Peter Berg), along with the actors, including SAG Ensemble consideration, and all below the line work.

The crew filmed in rugged conditions in New Mexico, which doubles for Afghanistan, and the tales of the rough filming conditions only enhance appreciation of the contributions of cinematographer Tobias A. Schliessler and the makeup team, among others. However, at a Q&A afterwards, Mark Wahlberg smartly pointed out that it’s foolish or inappropriate to complain about moviemaking conditions, which are in no way comparable to what fighting troops actually go through.

In terms of awards, this is one of Universal’s two big hopes, alongside the B.O. smash “Despicable Me 2.” (The Ron Howard “Rush,” which is worthy of awards consideration in multiple categories, was distributed by U, but it isn’t really their baby.)

“Lone Survivor” will still work well on screeners, but it should be seen on the bigscreen for maximum impact (and the impact of the intense drama will be big). The film strategists’ big challenge: Getting audiences to see it. Voters may think they’re familiar with the material, after “Blackhawk Down,” “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” But those are actually three very different movies and this is unlike any of them. And, like some other films in this year’s race, it might get the “it’s hard to watch tag,” but the rewards far outweigh the moments of wincing.