Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI DOCS Forum Will Feature Sessions In Response To Rapidly Changing World Events, Filmmaker Panels, Networking Opportunities And More

ON EMBARGO UNTIL 9 a.m. ET / 6 a.m. PT, June 10, 2020, WASHINGTON, DC — AFI DOCS — the American Film Institute’s five-day documentary film festival, supported by Presenting Sponsor AT&T — has announced its 2020 Forum. Open to all AFI DOCS pass holders and festival filmmakers, the five-day Forum will take place June 17-21, with live sessions streaming online.

The Forum presents a variety of networking and professional development events and discussions for filmmakers, industry professionals, and those with a passion for nonfiction storytelling. The AFI DOCS Forum is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. Primary Media Partners Meet the Press and The Washington Post are hosting and moderating sessions.


Marjan Safinia, Michael Lumpkin, Monica Lewinsky
Michael Lumpkin, Director of AFI Festivals

“The AFI DOCS Forum has always been a unique aspect of our festival, where filmmakers, industry leaders, and festival attendees can come together to engage in informative and thought-provoking discussions,” said Michael Lumpkin, Director of AFI Festivals. “This year, we are excited to connect Forum attendees though these online sessions and look forward to participating in the exciting conversations they inspire.”


Programming at this year’s Forum ranges from panels on the effects of the recent mass protest movements and COVID-19 on documentary filmmaking, to in-depth discussions exploring the many other aspects of our society that documentary films examine and expose, as well as sessions on the business of filmmaking.

The full AFI DOCS Forum schedule and tickets will be available at later today.

The 18th edition of AFI DOCS will run online June 17–21. AT&T’s continued support as Presenting Sponsor enables AFI DOCS to connect audiences, policymakers, and storytellers in the heart of our national government.

Wednesday, June 17:

  • Forum programming begins with “Distribution New Frontiers,” an up-to-the-minute panel discussion curated by ITVS featuring players from across the industry, moderated by ITVS Director of Distribution Jordana Meade, addressing how filmmakers can optimize their distribution strategies.
  • “Micro Meetings, Session 1,” intimate, one-on-one 15-minute micro meetings, in which Forum attendees have the opportunity to connect online with a national portfolio of industry personnel, funders, public media representatives, and veteran filmmakers.


Thursday, June 18:

  • Winner of the 2020 Sundance U.S. Documentary Audience Award, CRIP CAMP: A DISABILITY REVOLUTION is a rare combination of personal story, cultural milestone, and policy-focused documentary. Join us for this lively and highly informative demonstration and discussion of the team’s innovative, years-in-the-making Crip Camp Impact Campaign. The Campaign features innovative and creative experiences, all led virtually. These include a 16-week curated camp experience entitled “Crip Camp: The Official Virtual Experience,” a disabled creatives and activists emergency relief fund in response to the effects of the pandemic and a fellowship for emerging creatives within the disability community. Registration for the virtual camp alone reached over 7,000 globally within the first three weeks of launch. By connecting disability rights advocates with other progressive communities and empowering the next generation of activists, the Crip Camp Campaign seeks to nurture an ongoing revolution in disability rights and disability justice and inspire a fundamental cultural transformation.
  • “Be Safe: Navigating The Perils Of News Gathering And Documentary Production” From reporters covering street protests who run the risk of attack to documentary filmmakers struggling to get the protective gear necessary to shoot during COVID-19, newsgathering and documentary production in the U.S. have become fraught for those committed to telling the urgent stories of the moment. What are the disparate realities affecting those who are on the frontlines of telling these stories? How do filmmakers evaluate risk mitigation vs. unsafe conditions? What practices are being implemented? IDA Enterprise Fund Director Carrie Lozano moderates this of-the-moment conversation.
  • “Micro Meetings, Session 2,” will provide the second round of intimate, one-on-one 15-minute micro meetings between attendees, filmmakers and industry personnel.


Friday, June 19:

  • The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership returns to host “A Washington Post Press FreedomPartnership Conversation With Philippine Journalist Maria Ressa And Filmmaker Ramona Diaz (A THOUSAND CUTS).” In 2018, The Washington Post announced the Press Freedom Partnership, an ongoing initiative to highlight organizations working vigilantly to promote press freedom and raise awareness of the rights of journalists worldwide. The Partnership has now grown to eight partner organizations — the Committee to Protect Journalists, International Press Institute, International Women’s Media Foundation, James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, National Press Club, One Free Press Coalition, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Reporters Without Borders. In this urgent and timely conversation, The Post’s Global Opinions writer Jason Rezaian sits down with internationally acclaimed Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, co-founder of the digital news outlet Rappler, and filmmaker Ramona Diaz, whose new film A THOUSAND CUTS profiles Ressa and documents Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s attempts to shut down Rappler and arrest Ressa.
  • In the session “Finding Common Ground: How Local Public Televisions and Filmmakers Can Work Together In a Time of Crisis,” participants will explore the question: With the world in crisis and the economy turned on its head, how can public television stations and independent filmmakers come together and work towards creative solutions that, through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, strengthen relationships and lead to mutually beneficial outcomes? This thought-provoking and timely panel brings together stations and filmmakers for an urgently needed conversation.
  • “A Conversation With the Filmmakers and Subjects of WOMEN IN BLUE and STOCKTON ON MY MIND,” hosted by MEET THE PRESS. Even before COVID-19, U.S. cities were facing intractable issues around policing, homelessness, education, and economic inequality. Now, with these issues taking on paramount importance, filmmakers and subjects from two films screening at AFI DOCS 2020 – WOMEN IN BLUE and the HBO Documentary Film STOCKTON ON MY MIND – join together in a thought-provoking conversation about current events; the opportunities for, as well as the limitations of, reform; and the potential for major structural changes that could transform institutions and people’s lives in the two cities featured in the films – Minneapolis, MN, and Stockton, CA –  and throughout the country.


Saturday, June 20:

  • In “Behind the Documentary Waterfall: Gaining a Better Understanding of Financing Structures, Investor Agreements and Profit Sharing,” Susan Margolin and Yael Melamede of the Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA) will cover financing basics, standard investor agreements and the overall picture of profit sharing/waterfall in documentary filmmaking, de-mystifying these critically important aspects of the documentary film business.

Saturday, June 21:

  • Forum programming will conclude with “Maximum Impact: When Documentary Filmmakers Team Up With Investigative Journalists.” How does a crime become a scandal? When a powerful organization like USA Gymnastics covers up a crime (in fact, dozens of crimes), the seeds of a massive scandal are planted. But not until those crimes are reported and exposed, does the true scope of the scandal come to light and the possibility exists for justice and reform. For their riveting new documentary ATHLETE A (premiering on Netflix on June 24), filmmakers Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk shine a light on the reporters and editors of the Indianapolis Star, who first broke the scandal of USA Gymnastics and its years-long coverup of the sexual assault crimes perpetrated by team physician Larry Nassar. Join us for this fascinating case study in collaboration and trust with filmmakers Cohen and Shenk, who will be joined by key subjects of the film including members of the Star investigative team and survivors who came forward to tell their stories.


AFI DOCS is the American Film Institute’s annual documentary festival historically held in Washington, DC.  Presenting the year’s best documentaries, AFI DOCS is the only festival in the U.S. dedicated to screenings and events that connect audiences, filmmakers, and policy leaders in the heart of our nation’s government. The AFI DOCS advisory board includes Ken Burns, Davis Guggenheim, Chris Hegedus, Werner Herzog, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Stanley Nelson and Frederick Wiseman.  Now in its 18th year, the festival will be held online June 17-21, 2020. Visit and connect on,,, and

About the American Film Institute (AFI)

Established in 1967, the American Film Institute is the nation’s non-profit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring artists and audiences through initiatives that champion the past, present, and future of the moving image. AFI’s pioneering programs include filmmaker training at the AFI Conservatory; year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center and at AFI Festivals across the nation; workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community; honoring today’s masters through the AFI Life Achievement Award and AFI AWARDS; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films that uphold film history for future generations. Read about all of these programs and more at and follow us on social media at,,, and


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About the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television, and related online services. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @CPBmediaFacebook and LinkedIn, and subscribe for email updates.

About The Washington Post and Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership

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The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership is an ongoing initiative that aims to highlight organizations working vigilantly to promote press freedom and raise awareness of the rights of journalists worldwide. Learn more at [].

About Meet the Press with Chuck Todd

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd is where newsmakers come to make the news — setting the political agenda and spotlighting the impact Washington decision-making has on Americans across the country. It is the #1 most-watched Sunday public affairs show for the 2018-2019 season, reaching more than three million viewers every Sunday and millions more through social, digital and on-demand platforms. Meet the Press brings its authority and influencer interviews to MSNBC with MTP Daily weekdays at 5 p.m. ET and to The Chuck ToddCast. It’s the longest-running show in television history, recently expanding its brand to include a political short-documentary film festival in collaboration with the American Film Institute. Chuck Todd is the political director of NBC News and the moderator of Meet the Press; John Reiss is the executive producer.


(Source: AFI DOCS press release)

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