Posted by Larry Gleeson
AFI DOCS has announced its Opening and Closing Night films, and Centerpiece and Special Screenings — with AT&T returning as Presenting Sponsor of the festival for the fifth consecutive year.
For its 16th edition, AFI’s annual celebration of documentary film in the nation’s capital will open with the world premiere of PERSONAL STATEMENT (DIRS Juliane Dressner and Edwin Martinez) and will close with UNITED SKATES (DIRS Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown).
This year’s program also includes ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA’S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW (DIR Rory Kennedy) as the Centerpiece. The four Special Screenings will be the world premiere of THE COLD BLUE (DIR Erik Nelson), KINSHASA MAKAMBO (DIR Dieudo Hamadi), MR. SOUL! (DIRS Sam Pollard and Melissa Haizlip) and WITKIN & WITKIN (DIR Trisha Ziff).
The Opening Night screening of PERSONAL STATEMENT will be held on June 13 at the Newseum and will be followed by a Q&A with directors Juliane Dressner and Edwin Martinez. The film centers on three Brooklyn high school seniors who are working as college counselors in their schools because many of their classmates have no one else to turn to for support.
The Closing Night screening of UNITED SKATES will be held on June 17 at the Landmark E Street Cinema and will be followed by a Q&A with directors Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown. The film chronicles the fight to save roller-skating rinks, which have played a critical role in modern African-American culture.
The Centerpiece screening of ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA’S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW will take place at the National Air and Space Museum. As NASA heads into its 60th anniversary, filmmaker Rory Kennedy looks back at the men and women who have built the institution, and whose boundless curiosity drives scientific progress forward.
Tickets to AFI DOCS, including Opening Night and Closing Night screenings, are now on sale at AFI.com/afidocs.
Descriptions of the films are below.
OPENING NIGHT SCREENING
PERSONAL STATEMENT: Karoline, Enoch and Christine are Brooklyn high school seniors who just want to go to college, but like so many public school students, their schools don’t have enough college guidance support. But they refuse to give up and are determined to carry their classmates with them as they pursue their dreams.
CLOSING NIGHT SCREENING
UNITED SKATES: Roller-skating has played a critical role in modern African-American culture, with rinks serving as both a haven of community and of artistic expression, and a flashpoint in the civil rights movement. UNITED SKATES chronicles the fight to save these rinks, and the souls of communities nationwide.
ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA‘S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW: Rory Kennedy tells the stories of the women and men behind the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s decades-long exploration of our solar system, our universe and our planet, in this enlightening film that celebrates NASA’s triumphs, mourns its tragedies and affirms the importance of its mission both in space and on Earth.
THE COLD BLUE: In 1943, legendary Hollywood director William Wyler crafted MEMPHIS BELLE, a celebrated tribute to the titular WWII bomber. Using footage of the film from the National Archives, THE COLD BLUE features gripping narration from some of the last surviving B-17 pilots. A meditation on youth, war and stunning bravery.
KINSHASA MAKAMBO: Amid the backdrop of seemingly never-ending political and social unrest that hangs over the Democratic Republic of the Congo, three young activists take to the streets with their fellow countrymen to overthrow their country’s President and help enact much needed change in their politically beleaguered country.
MR. SOUL!: An in-depth look at the late 1960s WNET public television series SOUL! and its producer Ellis Haizlip. The series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement. SOLD OUT
WITKIN & WITKIN: The artwork of septuagenarian twins Joel-Peter and Jerome Witkin transcends genres and traditional form. WITKIN & WITKIN explores the brothers’ complicated relationship with one another, while examining depths and divisions in their work. Joel-Peter’s stunning photography and Jerome’s powerful figurative paintings distinctly capture the human condition, reflecting differing emotional and intellectual approaches.
*Featured photo UNITED SKATES