Mountainfilm Announces 2021 Award Winners

Posted by Larry Gleeson


“It felt like a sacred space,” said Festival Director Suzan Beraza. “The numbers were different from what we’re used to, but there was an intimacy and the ability to have real, in-depth conversations. It was a gift.”


Suzan Beraza, Festival Director

The number of in-person attendees may have shifted due to the pandemic, but the quality of programming remained high. And, just like in years past, certain features and short films stood out — pushing us out of our comfort zone, inspiring action, and shifting our worldview. To honor these moments, a handful of films and filmmakers were recognized with a cash award.

“A big part of Mountainfilm’s mission is filmmaker support,” said Beraza. “The comment that we got from the awards juries is that the caliber of films was extremely high and they had a difficult deliberation process.”


2021 Festival Awards by R. Nelson Parrish Photo: Jonas Jungblut

These are the Mountainfilm 2021 award winners:


 The winner of this juried award is Jacinta, a film that introduces us to a multi-generational family fighting the pattern of addiction and the cycle of prison, rehab, relapse and perpetual disappointment. Over three-and-a-half years, filmmaker Jessica Earnshaw follows a loving family faced with a seemingly endless battle against codependency and trauma.
Funded in part by Tully and Elise Friedman


Since you arrived, my heart stopped belonging to me is the winner of this juried award that recognizes exceptional short filmmaking. Director Erin Semine Kökdil zooms in on a group of Central American mothers desperately searching the streets of Mexico for their missing migrant children.
Funded in part by Tully and Elise Friedman


Each year, an adventure film that embodies the spirit of Charlie Fowler, a world-class climber and Telluride crag pioneer, is recognized. This year, Tasha Van Zandt’s After Antarctica was the well-deserving recipient. The film tells the story of Will Steger, who traversed Antarctica in 1989 to defend and protect Antarctica from exploitation. Now, almost 30 years later, we watch as Steger sets out on a solo expedition to the Arctic Circle at age 75.
Funded by the Fowler family


The Moving Mountains award honors a film that’s dedicated to social justice and impact — supporting both the filmmaker and the film’s associated nonprofit. This year’s recipients are Raj Patel and Zak Piper, directors of The Ants & The Grasshopper, and the farmer-led nonprofit Soils, Food and Healthy Communities. The feature film follows Anita Chitaya from Malawi as she and her mentor, Esther Lupafya, travel through the U.S. in an effort to convince Americans that climate change is real.
Funded in part by Tully and Elise Friedman


Director Whitney Skauge is the winner of this award that’s presented to an outstanding woman in the film industry. Skauge’s film, The Beauty President pays homage to a queer drag queen named Joan Jett Blakk who ran a campaign as a write-in candidate in the 1992 U.S. presidential election. In the film, we meet the male activist behind the persona, Terence Alan Smith, as he reflects on his audacious bid to draw attention to LGBTQ+ rights and the AIDS crisis.
Funded by Riccarda de Eccher and Bill Goldston.



A Vimeo curation team chose On Falling as their 2021 outstanding short film. In the short, Director Josephine Anderson — who is too afraid to ride a mountain bike — follows three female pro mountain bikers to explore the topics of toughness, vulnerability and accomplishment.
Funded by Vimeo


These films will all be available on Mountainfilm Online. Passes to the online festival are also still available here. Following Mountainfilm Online, May 31–June 6, the remaining two awards: Audience Choice and Student Choice will be announced.


Let’s Create A Better World!

Now, more than ever, we need your support. It is only through generous contributions that we can continue our mission to use the power of film, art, and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world.

Donations will go a long way to ensure that Mountainfilm not only endures, but comes back in full force in 2022. Every little bit helps, become a donor today!


*If you didn’t catch all of the films on your list at Mountainfilm in Telluride — or you prefer the comfort of your own couch and snack set up – Mountainfilm Online has your back. Online festival passes are still available here. Get yours today!

To help you have the best experience possible check out this guide: How to Mountainfilm Online. You’ll be glad you did!

I’ll be posting regularly here as well as on my social media accounts with Facebook and twitter (@hollywoodglee). Stay tuned….

I look forward to seeing you at the movies!

Larry Gleeson at the 2019 Telluride Film Festival build-out. Gleeson was part of the Telluride Film Festival Vespucci Production Team.

Welcome to Mountainfilm 2021 Online

Posted by Larry Gleeson

May 31 – June 6, 2021

Mountainfilm online kicked off this morning at 9 A.M. MST. Suzan Beraza provided a warm welcome to the 43rd year of Mountainfilm.

Suzan Beraza, Festival Director

Films, speakers, and panels, are available via individual tickets and festival pass at

To experience Mountainfilm Online, all you really need is a pass and an adventurous heart. And, I speak with the voice of experience after attending last year for the first time.

However, to help you have the best experience possible check out this guide: How to Mountainfilm Online. You’ll be glad you did!

I’ll be posting regularly here as well as on my social media accounts with Facebook and twitter (@hollywoodglee). Stay tuned….

I look forward to seeing you at the movies!




Posted by Larry Gleeson

77 Films From 23 Countries To Be Celebrated by AFI 

World Premiere Of NAOMI OSAKA To Open Festival,  

CUSP To Close  


As Centerpiece Offering 

May 26, 2021, WASHINGTON, DC — The American Film Institute has revealed its full slate of films being presented for the hybrid AFI DOCS 2021 festival. The lineup features 77 films from 23 countries and 4 World Premieres, with 52% of the films directed by women, 40% by BIPOC directors and 18% by LGBTQ directors.

The 19th edition of the festival will present films in the following sections: Special Presentations, Guggenheim Symposium, Feature Films, Series, Cinema’s Legacy, Short Film Competition and Spotlight on the Hindsight Project. AFI DOCS 2021 runs June 22–27, with films available to view on as well as in-person screenings at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, MD, and select films will be available with closed captioning and descriptive audio. The Washington Post and Meet the Press return as the Primary Media Partners.


“We are living in the Golden Age of documentary film,” said Sarah Harris, AFI Festivals Director of Programming. “At AFI DOCS, we are proud to celebrate excellence in the films of 2021 – connecting audiences across the nation, engaging them in lively conversation and inspiring them with both the unprecedented challenges and the breathtaking beauty of the world around us.”


AFI DOCS‘ program of Special Presentations includes the previously announced Opening Night World Premiere of NAOMI OSAKA and Closing Night film CUSP, as well as the Centerpiece Screening of ROADRUNNER: A FILM ABOUT ANTHONY BOURDAIN.


This year, the Features section explores a diverse range of subjects including the growing movement in the medical community to push back against big pharma (WHITE COAT REBELS); an examination of law enforcement’s relationship with the community through the lens of a corruption scandal in the Baltimore police department (THE SLOW HUSTLE); the emotional complexities of family court trials (COURTROOM 3H); and Syrian artists working in exile in Europe (THE STORY WON’T DIE).


The Cinema’s Legacy program, now in its third year at AFI DOCS, presents historically notable nonfiction films that employ the personal documentary form: IN SEARCH OF OUR FATHERS (1992), SINK OR SWIM (1990) and STEVIE (2002). Cinema’s Legacy is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).


This year’s Series section features multi-part documentaries that investigate pivotal moments in history and culture, from an exploration of the sound creation in modern music in WATCH THE SOUND WITH MARK RONSON, to an in-depth look at a day that changed our country forever with 9/11: ONE DAY IN AMERICA. The Series section will also feature the World Premiere of OBAMA: IN PURSUIT OF A MORE PERFECT UNION.


The Short Film Competition will be presented in six programs, with stories from across the globe and close to home, and are eligible for the Grand Jury Prize.


Special to AFI DOCS this year is the Spotlight on the Hindsight Project, sponsored by CPB.The section presents the world premiere of six short films, which chronicle the experiences of BIPOC communities in the American South and U.S. Territories during the unprecedented events of 2020. The project is produced in partnership by Firelight Media, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) and Reel South.


As previously announced, this year’s Charles Guggenheim Symposium will feature a discussion with filmmaker Dawn Porter and a free screening of her new film RISE AGAIN: TULSA AND THE RED SUMMER.


Audience Awards will be given to a feature and a short film based on votes cast by attendees throughout the festival. The winners of the Audience Awards for Best Feature and Best Short will be announced on Monday, June 28. For the second year, the AFI DOCS Short Film Competition Grand Jury Prize is a qualifying award for Academy Award® eligibility.


Passes to AFI DOCS 2021 are now available at DOCS.AFI.comEarly Bird pricing will be available until June 1. Tickets for individual and in-person screenings will be available June 8. AFI Members receive exclusive discounts and benefits. To become an AFI member, visit



Featuring our Opening, Centerpiece and Closing films, this section spotlights the highest-profile and most anticipated films of the festival.


NAOMI OSAKA:  DIR Garrett Bradley.  PRODS Lauren Cioffi, Katy Murakami and Sally Rosen.  USA.

What does it feel like to be one of the best tennis players in the world? An intimate look inside the life of one of the most gifted and complex athletes of her generation offers insight into the tough decisions and ecstatic triumphs that shape Naomi Osaka as both an elite global superstar and a young woman navigating a pressure-filled world. World Premiere.



CUSP:  DIRS Parker Hill and Isabel Bethencourt.  PROD Zachary Luke Kislevitz.  USA.

This coming-of-age documentary follows three teenage girls for one wild, life-changing summer in their small Texas town as they grapple with what becoming an adult means, especially for young women.



ROADRUNNER: A FILM ABOUT ANTHONY BOURDAIN:  DIR Morgan Neville.  PRODS Caitrin Rogers and Morgan Neville.  USA.

A documentary about the uncommon life of the late storyteller, explorer and chef, Anthony Bourdain.






Honoring a master of the nonfiction art form, this year’s Guggenheim Symposium will include an in-depth conversation with celebrated filmmaker Dawn Porter hosted by Variety’s Film Awards Editor Clayton Davis, featuring clips from her acclaimed work and a free screening of her most recent project.



One hundred years after the two-day Tulsa Massacre, one of America’s most violent racial conflicts, this documentary explores the role of media during these early 20th century events and today’s revived call for justice and anti-racism. Free Screening.


This year’s diverse features section is a collection of original, enlightening and daring explorations of the people and world around us.

COURTROOM 3H:  DIR Antonio Méndez Esparza.  PRODS Pedro Hernandez Santos, Rebeca Villar Rodriguez and Ana Castanosa Bielsa.  Spain.

Inside Tallahassee’s Courtroom 3H, staggeringly emotional hearings and trials hint at the complexities of family histories, calling into question a justice system with the power to decide who is suitable to be a parent. North American Premiere.


DAUGHTER OF A LOST BIRD:  DIR Brooke Pepion Swaney.  PRODS Jeri Rafter, Kendra Mylnechuk and Brooke Pepion Swaney.  USA.

Kendra grew up in white suburbia knowing little of her Native American heritage. The search for her birth mother leads her to face a legacy of family trauma and joy.


DELPHINE’S PRAYERS (LES PRIÈRES DE DELPHINE):  DIR Rosine Mbakam.  PROD Geoffroy Cemaix.  Belgium, Cameroon.

Delphine, a 30-year-old Cameroonian woman, sits casually on a mattress. With filmmaker Rosine Mbakam, she will “just talk as usual,” describing what led her to this brightly lit room in a Brussels apartment.


FATHOM:  DIR Drew Xanthopoulos.  PROD Megan Gilbride.  USA.

Have you ever wanted to introduce yourself to a whale? FATHOM follows women in the field of cetacean research trying to do just that and takes a deep dive into whale culture and our own.


THE FIRST STEP:  DIR Brandon Kramer.  PROD Lance Kramer.  USA.

Brilliantly plotted and politically nuanced, THE FIRST STEP follows CNN commentator Van Jones’ trip down the rabbit hole as he forms an unholy alliance with Jared Kushner to effectuate prison reform legislation.


LFG:  DIRS Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine.  PRODS Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine and Abby Greensfelder.  USA.

LFG is an inspiring and intimate documentary following the U.S. women’s national soccer team as it files a class-action, gender discrimination lawsuit against the team’s employer, the U.S. Soccer Federation.


THE LOST LEONARDO:  DIR Andreas Koefoed.  PRODS Christoph Jörg and Andreas Dalsgaard.  Denmark, France, Sweden.

This intriguing thriller follows the story behind the Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting ever sold ($450 million) after it is claimed to be a long-lost masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci.


LUCHADORAS:  DIRS Paola Calvo and Patrick Jasim.  PROD Phillip Kaminiak.  Germany, Mexico.

Three courageous female wrestlers, Luchadoras, confront crises in their personal lives and present strength in their community of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where women are all too often abused, kidnapped or murdered.


MY NAME IS PAULI MURRAY:  DIRS Julie Cohen and Betsy West.  PROD Talleah Bridges McMahon.  USA.

Academy Award® nominees Betsy West and Julie Cohen (RBG) profile the remarkable Pauli Murray, whose legacy as one of the 20th Century’s great human rights activists and legal scholars finally gets the attention it deserves.



Comedian and satirist CJ Hunt (THE DAILY SHOW) is asking difficult questions about this country’s Confederate monuments. In THE NEUTRAL GROUND, he hopes to discover some clarity, by diving into history.


NO STRAIGHT LINES:  DIR Vivian Kleiman.  PRODS Vivian Kleiman and Justin Hall.  USA.

This wonderfully immersive look at the history of queer comics celebrates the queer artists who carved out a space in the culture where they could see themselves and be seen by others.


NORTH BY CURRENT:  DIR Angelo Madsen Minax.  PROD Felix Endara.  USA.

After the death of his young niece and accusations that the family might somehow have been involved, filmmaker Angelo Madsen Minax has many questions that won’t have clear or easy answers.


THE ONE AND ONLY DICK GREGORY:  DIR Andre Gaines.  PRODS Andre Gaines and Valerie Edwards.  USA.

In this affectionate tribute guided by other entertainers, the iconic comedian and activist Dick Gregory finds humor again after losing it in anger.


PRAY AWAY:  DIR Kristine Stolakis.  PRODS Jessica Devaney, Anya Rous and Kristine Stolakis.  USA.

Former leaders of the “pray away the gay” movement contend with the aftermath unleashed by their actions, while a survivor seeks healing and acceptance from more than a decade of trauma.


PRESIDENT:  DIR Camilla Nielsson.  PRODS Signe Byrge Sørensen and Joslyn Barnes.  Denmark, USA, Norway.

Zimbabwe’s dictator Robert Mugabe has been ousted, but the corrupt ruling party has already thrown their power behind a new candidate and, with democracy at stake, challenger Nelson Chamisa faces an impossible battle.


RADIOGRAPH OF A FAMILY:  DIR Firouzeh Khosrovani.  PRODS Bård Kjøge Rønning and Fabien Greenberg.  Iran, Switzerland, Norway.

Filmmaker Firouzeh Khosrovani excavates and examines her parents’ marriage, which reflects the divide between traditionalism and modernization in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution.


REBEL HEARTS:  DIR Pedro Kos.  PRODS Kira Carstensen, Shawnee Isaac-Smith and Judy Korin.  USA.

In Los Angeles in the 1960s, the courageous Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary challenged the Roman Catholic Church in an effort to reform its engrained patriarchal strictures – but at a considerable cost.


SEARCHERS:  DIR Pacho Velez.  PRODS Pacho Velez, Joe Poletto, Sam Roseme and Cathy Tankosic.  USA.

Swipe right or swipe left? Such love-life-altering decisions are explored in Pacho Velez’s enchanting, poignant exploration of online dating apps and those searching for love in all the digital places.


THE SLOW HUSTLE: DIR Sonja Sohn.  PRODS Marc Levin, Daphne Pinkerson and Mahrya MacIntire.  USA.

After Baltimore Police Detective Sean Suiter is shot and found dead while on duty, the tragedy soon becomes enmeshed in a widening corruption scandal that threatens to unravel the public’s already strained relationship with law enforcement. World Premiere.


STORM LAKE:  DIRS Jerry Risius and Beth Levison.  PROD Beth Levison.  USA.

For 30 years, in Storm Lake, Iowa, Art Cullen and his family have been publishing a Pulitzer Prize-winning local newspaper. But, with newspapers everywhere going extinct, how long can they keep it up?


THE STORY WON’T DIE:  DIR David Henry Gerson.  PROD Odessa Rae, Abdalaziz Alhamza and Martin Marquet.  USA, Germany, Denmark.

In their homeland of Syria, artists are routinely tortured, kidnapped, imprisoned and killed. While in exile in Europe, their talents speak truth to power, help them heal and find joy. US Premiere.

SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED):  DIR Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.  PRODS Joseph Patel; Robert Fyvolent; and David Dinerstein.  USA.

In 1969, the same summer as Woodstock, another epic music festival — celebrating American music and African American history — took place in Harlem, New York.



Newly discovered archival 16mm footage is weaved with intimate interviews to create a love letter to Tom Petty’s touchstone album “Wildflowers” and an artist’s story of his struggle to feel free.


TRY HARDER!:  DIR Debbie Lum.  PRODS Nico Opper, Lou Nakasako and Debbie Lum.  USA.

Welcome to the high-pressure world of the college application process. TRY HARDER! features a wonderful cast of stressed-out high school seniors pulling out all the stops to make their college dreams a reality.


WE:  DIR Alice Diop.  PROD Sophie Salbot.  France.

In this fascinating slice-of-life portrait of Paris and its outskirts, filmmaker Alice Diop turns her camera on the “ordinary” people living in the shadow of the RER B train that traverses the city.


WHITE COAT REBELS:  DIR Greg Barker.  PRODS. Diane Becker, Greg Barker, Christopher Buchanan, Dr. Harriet Fraser.  USA.

In this probing look inside the medical profession, filmmaker Greg Barker examines the outsized influence of Big Pharma and the courageous “white coat rebels” who are pushing back against the powers that be. World Premiere.


Go on a binge or take it one episode at a time, these multi-part documentaries explore pivotal moments in history and culture that connect us.

9/11: ONE DAY IN AMERICA:  DIR Daniel Bogado.  PROD Caroline Marsden.  USA.

In official collaboration with the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, this documentary series take viewers through harrowing moments of the historic morning of September 11, 2001. AFI DOCS will present the first three episodes.


OBAMA: IN PURSUIT OF A MORE PERFECT UNION:  DIR Peter Kunhardt.  PRODS George Kunhardt, Teddy Kunhardt, Maya Mumma and Matthew Henderson.  USA.

This multi-part documentary explores the journey of Barack Obama from his early upbringing to the 44th U.S. President, set against the backdrop of the country’s unfolding racial history. World Premiere. AFI DOCS will present the first two episodes.


WATCH THE SOUND WITH MARK RONSON:  DIRS Mark Monroe, Morgan Neville and Jason Zeldes.    USA.

Hosted by renowned DJ and award-winning artist and producer Mark Ronson, this docuseries explores sound creation and the revolutionary technology shaping modern music. US Premiere. AFI DOCS will host three episodes of the new series.


Presenting historically notable nonfiction films, this year’s edition of Cinema’s Legacy section focuses on important works employing the personal documentary form. Now over a year into an extended quarantine, personal documentary has acquired a renewed relevance, reflecting a global turn towards introspection. Cinema’s Legacy is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

IN SEARCH OF OUR FATHERS (1992):  DIR Marco Williams.  PRODS Michael Rubbo and Marco Williams.  USA. 

Marco Williams’ searing seven-year journey to track down the father he never knew. Thirty years on, the film remains a brilliant and powerful evocation of the personal documentary form.


SINK OR SWIM (1990):  DIR Su Friedrich. USA.

In this canonical personal documentary, filmmaker Su Friedrich returns to a pivotal childhood memory – her father has thrown her into the deep end of the pool to teach her to swim.


STEVIE (2002):  DIR Steve James.  PRODS Steve James, Adam D. Singer and Gordon Quinn.  USA.

Following HOOP DREAMS’ huge success, Steve James began a straightforward film about the man he had once mentored as a Big Brother. To James’ surprise, he would end up making his most complex and personal documentary.


Curated from hundreds of entries, this year’s short films highlight unique voices from around the world – presented in six programs.

AUDIBLE:  DIR Matt Ogens.  PRODS Nyle DiMarco and Peter Berg.  USA.

Athletes at the Maryland School for the Deaf defend their winning streak while dealing with the loss of a friend. They face pressures of entering the hearing world in this coming-of-age story.

THE BEAUTY PRESIDENT:  DIR Whitney Skauge.  PROD Caley Shannon.  USA.

“If a bad actor can be president, why not a good drag queen?” In 1992, Joan Jett Blakk made a historic bid for the White House as the first openly queer write-in candidate. World Premiere.

THE BROTHER (LE FRÈRE):  DIR Jérémie Battaglia.  PROD Amélie Lambert Bouchard.  Canada.

Suffering from an illness that causes body paralysis, Kais dreams he is the hero of his favorite anime, along with his brothers, Fehd the bodybuilder and Zaïd the ninja. US Premiere.

BUG FARM:  DIR Lydia Cornett.  PROD Brit Fryer.  USA.

Four women in Central Florida establish a unique bond while working with crickets, superworms and roaches on an insect farm in the rural town of LaBelle.

CODED:  DIR Ryan White.  PRODS Christopher Leggett, Rafael Marmor, Conor Fetting-Smith, Jessica Hargrave and Marc Gilbar.  USA.

The coded advertisements of legendary early-20th century gay illustrator J.C. Leyendecker quietly, but directly, acknowledged a community that was forced to live in the closet.

THE COMMUNION OF MY COUSIN ANDREA:  DIR Brandán Cerviño Abeledo.  PRODS Brandán Cerviño Abeledo and Sabrina Zimmermann.  Spain.

Andrea’s First Communion ceremony lacks glamour. For Andrea, things without sparkles are meaningless. World Premiere.

EAGLES (ÁGUILAS):  DIRS Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Maite Zubiaurre.  PRODS Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Maite Zubiaurre.  USA.

Once a month, along the scorching southern desert border in Arizona, one group of searchers, the Aguilas del Desierto, set out to recover missing loved ones.

THE GALLERY THAT DESTROYS ALL SHAME:  DIRS Aurora Brachman and Jessie Zinn.  PRODS Aurora Brachman and Jessie Zinn.  USA.

One evening in L.A., a group of womxn gather to learn how to take back the speculum. World Premiere.

THE GAME:  DIR Roman Hodel.  PROD Franziska Sonder.  Switzerland.

A whistle. The crowded stands of the stadium roar. Players protest angrily. Announcers follow the action on the field. In the middle of it all is the referee.

GOLDEN AGE KARATE:  DIR Sindha Agha.  PRODS Malcolm Pullinger and Rachel Serada Barth.  USA.

Teen karate pro Jeff Wall teaches senior citizens self-defense at a local nursing home, giving them the tools to feel in control, connected and cared for.

THE HAIRDRESSER (LA COIFFEUSE):  DIR Lorraine Price.  PROD Lorraine Price.  Canada.

At 83, Kathleen is still doing hair, though not how you might expect. Her work is special. World Premiere.

HALPATE:  DIRS Adam Piron and Adam Khalil.  PRODS Alexandra Lazarowich and Everett Osceola.  USA.

Alligator wrestling, considered a staple of Florida tourism, is a dangerous spectacle that has been performed by members of the Seminole Tribe for over a century.

THE I AND S OF LIVES:  DIR Kevin Jerome Everson.  PRODS Madeleine Molyneaux and Kevin Jerome Everson.  USA.

The smoothest area of resistance. The “I and S” of “Lives” is traced by a lone rollerskater on Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, DC, on a summer afternoon in 2020.

INTERNATIONAL DAWN CHORUS DAY:  DIR John Greyson.  PROD John Greyson.  Canada.

On International Dawn Chorus Day (May 3, 2020), birds from six continents join a Zoom call, where they gossip about storms, cats, wires, dates and two Egyptian activists. US Premiere.

INVISIBLE MONSTERS AND TOMATO SOUP:  DIRS Stevie Borrello, Marcie LaCerte and Meghan McDonough. USA.

A batch of mushy sourdough. Two radioactive lizards. Three cans of Campbell’s tomato soup. When COVID-19 lockdowns began in 2020, people around the world began reporting more vivid dreams.

MAMA:  DIR Pablo de la Chica.  PRODS David Torres, Pablo de la Chica, Kathleen McInnis, Miguel González, Eduardo Jiménez, Jordi Rubio, Diego Urruchi and Néstor Lopez.  Spain.

Deep in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, one of the most violent places in the world, Mama Zawadi and her baby chimpanzees find that unconditional love can heal the wounds of war. North American Premiere.

MISSION: HEBRON:  DIR Rona Segal.  PROD Idit Kliger.  Israel.

Israeli soldiers are recruited at age 18 and, only months later, are already overseeing Palestinian civil life. Former soldiers describe their time in Hebron, the most troubled city in the West Bank. North American Premiere.


A NIGHT AT THE OPERA:  DIR Sergei Loznitsa.  PRODS Philippe Martin, Dimitri Krassoulia-Vronsky, Emmanuel Perreau and Louis Vaudeville.  France.

Filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa revisits the Palais Garnier of the 1950s and 1960s, reviving the era when kings and queens, celebrities and heads of state ascended the stairs to worship the art of opera.

NSENENE:  DIR Michelle Coomber.  PROD Michelle Coomber.  UK.

In this poetic portrait of a Ugandan tradition, Masaka’s grasshopper catchers light up the sky. World Premiere.

THE ONE WHO CROSSED THE SEA (DER ÜBERS MEER KAM):  DIR Jonas Riemer.  PRODS Jonas Riemer and Johannes Schubert.  Germany.

In a makeshift boat, a GDR refugee escapes to West Germany. His newfound freedom is disorienting, and it is only later, with a growing nationalist movement, that he begins to feel at home.

PARTY LINE:  DIR Lydia Cornett.  PROD Lydia Cornett.  USA.

At the early voting line in Ohio’s most populous county, civic duty is a public performance. World Premiere.

R.I.P. T-SHIRTS:  DIRS Kate Davis and David Heilbroner.  PRODS David Heilbroner, Grace Harry and Anwan Glover.  USA.

A small custom T-shirt shop in Washington, DC, sees a generation of Black youth experience gun violence. World Premiere.

RED TAXI:  DIR Anonymous.  Hong Kong.

As protests in Hong Kong escalate, taxi drivers experience a city in upheaval driving the streets day and night. Anonymously filmed by locals.

S P A C E S (M E Z E R Y):  DIR Nora Štrbová.  Czech Republic.

A multi-textured animated exploration of memory as a container of identity, based on the personal story of the filmmaker and her brother who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. North American Premiere.

SCUM BOY:  DIR Allison Swank.  PROD Allison Swank.  South Africa.

A look at the off-the-wall psyche of Gen Z by way of visionary 3D artist Scum Boy, a young South African, Jewish transgender man living his life with illuminating fearlessness.

SENIOR PROM:  DIR Luisa Conlon.  PRODS Jessica Chermayeff and Luisa Conlon.  USA.

At an LGBTQ retirement home, the annual “senior” prom takes on a whole new meaning – a celebration of the lives and legacies of resistance of the eldest queer generation. World Premiere.

SHELTER:  DIR Smriti Mundhra.  PROD Maya Gnyp.  USA.

A verité documentary that follows three young children and their families as they grapple with housing insecurity in Los Angeles. World Premiere.


Central American mothers journey by bus through Mexico, searching for their children who migrated north towards the United States but disappeared en route.

SOUVENIR SOUVENIR:  DIR Bastien Dubois.  PROD Amiel Tenenbaum.  France.

An account of filmmaker Bastien Dubois’ multiple unsuccessful attempts to initiate a dialogue with his grandfather, who had been a soldier in the French-Algerian war.

TRADE CENTER:  DIR Adam Baran.  PRODS Adam Baran and Ethan Weinstock.  USA.

The voices of gay men who cruised for sex at the World Trade Center in the 1980s and 1990s haunt the sanitized, commerce-driven landscape of the newly rebuilt Freedom Tower.

THE TRAIN STATION:  DIR Lyana Patrick.  PROD Jessica Hallenbeck.  Canada.

In this beautifully animated documentary short, filmmaker Lyana Patrick narrates her family’s powerful story of love and survival at Lejac Indian Residential School. US Premiere.

UNDER THE LEMON TREE (تحت شجرةالليمون):  DIR Noor Fawzi Alasswad.  PROD Yassmine Hammoudi.  Qatar, Palestine.

Under the shade of a lemon tree, a Palestinian woman, Khaldieh, prepares herself a humble breakfast, remembering her former life and lost homeland with an assemblage of simple elements. US Premiere.

UNFORGIVABLE (IMPERDONABLE):  DIR Marlén Viñayo.  PRODS Marlén Viñayo and Carlos Martínez.  El Salvador.

Inside an evangelical Salvadoran prison, a ruthless 18th Street gang hitman is guilty, not only of his crimes, but of the unforgivable sin of being gay.


THE WAY WE WAIT:  DIR Ji-Yoon Park.  PROD Ji-Yoon Park.  South Korea, UK.

The filmmaker has just moved into her 22nd house when she receives a phone call that her grandmother is in critical condition. Belatedly attempting to strengthen their relationship, she awaits the impending loss. North American Premiere.


WHEN WE WERE BULLIES:  DIR Jay Rosenblatt.  PROD Jay Rosenblatt.  USA.

A mind-boggling “coincidence” leads a filmmaker to track down his fifth-grade class, to examine a memory of his own complicity in a bullying incident 50 years ago.




Special to AFI DOCS this year is the Spotlight on the Hindsight Project, sponsored by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.The section presents the world premiere of six short films, which chronicle the experiences of BIPOC communities in the American South and U.S. Territories during the unprecedented events of 2020. The project is produced in partnership by Firelight Media, Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) and Reel South.


FOOD FOR THE POOR (COMIDA PA’ LOS POBRES):  DIR Arleen Cruz-Alicea.  PRODS Arleen Cruz-Alicea.  Puerto Rico (USA).

COMIDA PA’ LOS POBRES follows a young Puerto Rican activist as he confronts the island’s persistent crisis of food insecurity. World Premiere.


MISSING MAGIC:  DIR Anissa Latham.  PRODS Anissa Latham, Kelsey Harrison.  USA.

MISSING MAGIC centers on a young poet and activist in Birmingham, Alabama, as he tries to write his way through the complex history of the city. World Premiere.


NOW LET US SING:  DIR Dilsey Davis.  USA.

An interfaith, interracial choir in Durham, North Carolina, is forced to take a new direction during the pandemic. World Premiere.


THIS BODY:  DIR Zac Manuel.  PRODS Lauren Cargo.  USA.

As Sydney Hall participates in an experimental coronavirus vaccine trial in hopes of protecting her beloved New Orleans community, she and her loved ones confront the history of medical abuse and experimentation on Black bodies. World Premiere.


UDAAN (SOAR):  DIR Amman Abbasi.  PRODS Alex Nystrom.  USA, Pakistan.

UDAAN (SOAR) follows a young Pakistani woman as she immigrates from Karachi, Pakistan, to a small town in Arkansas to begin her first year of college. World Premiere.


WE STAY IN THE HOUSE:  DIR Kiyoko McCrae.  PRODS Kiyoko McCrae, Eritria Pitts.  USA.

A group of New Orleans mothers struggle to care for their families and themselves throughout the pandemic. Utilizing video diaries, it provides an intimate portrait of mothering during a time of crisis. World Premiere.




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, Rory Kennedy, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Stanley Nelson and Frederick Wiseman. Now in its 19th year, the festival will be held June 22-27, 2021. Visit and connect on and 


About the American Film Institute (AFI)
Established in 1967, the American Film Institute is the nation’s nonprofit 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


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 managed 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  

The Washington Post is an award-winning news leader whose mission is to connect, inform and enlighten local, national and global readers with trustworthy reporting, in-depth analysis and engaging opinions. It combines world-class journalism with the latest technology and tools so readers can interact with The Post anytime, anywhere.


The Press Freedom Partnership is a public service initiative from The Washington Post to promote press freedom and raise awareness of the rights of journalists who are in pursuit of the truth. Learn more at


About Meet the Press with Chuck Todd

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd is where newsmakers come to make 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 2019-2020 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 1 p.m. ET, to the ongoing weekly podcast, The Chuck ToddCast, and to Meet the Press Reports, a 30-minute program on NBC News NOW and Peacock, focusing on a single topic explored through the Meet the Press lens. It’s the longest-running show in television history, recently expanding its brand to also 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.



Elizabeth Ward, AFI DOCS PR,

American Film Institute: Stacy Adamski, 323.856.7759,

Sundance Institute Names 20 Fellows

Posted by Larry Gleeson

20 Fellows Named Across Feature Film Directors and Screenwriters Labs, Native Lab

Customized Support for Emerging Creators, in Collaborative Digital Environment

PARK CITY, UTAH — The Sundance Institute today named the artists and projects selected for the first group of the upcoming signature summer Labs including 12 fellows for the Directors and Screenwriters Labs and 9 fellows participating in the Native Lab (one fellow will participate in both Labs). The Labs provide a space for writers and directors to spend time developing their craft and selected projects. Elements of this year’s Labs will take place digitally via Sundance Collab. At the heart of the Institute’s commitment to supporting and cultivating artists, these Labs connect a curated selection of independent storytellers with the larger creative and artistic community, enabling field-wide benefits as Creative Advisors and Industry Mentors generously give back, inspire, and learn from rising artists.


During the Directors Lab (June 1 – July 2, 2021), filmmakers will participate in a robust schedule of learning opportunities focusing on key areas of craft including directing actors, exploring the visual storytelling language of their films, and building a creatively rigorous pre-production process. They will engage with advisors through roundtable discussions, presentations, and one-on-one meetings and have the opportunity to rehearse, shoot, and edit a scene from their work-in-progress screenplays as an exercise in their home location. The Screenwriters Lab (July 6 – 9, 2021) will include one-on-one story sessions and customized support for the continued development of their original and timely screenplays.

The Native Lab (May 10 – 21, 2021) focuses on the specific development of storytellers from Native and Indigenous backgrounds, encompassing feature film, episodic work, and general cultivation of Artists-in-Residence. Participating are Native Lab Fellows, 2 Artists-in-Residence, and 3 Indigenous Program Full Circle Fellows, supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (U.S.-based Native artists, aged 18-24). During the Lab, Fellows will hone their storytelling and technical skills in a hands-on and supportive environment, including one-on-one feedback sessions with advisors and roundtable discussions. With Fellows working across both feature and episodic formats, they will also explore and discuss indigenizing their creative practices in regard to writing their scripts.

These Labs are organized under the aegis of Feature Film Program Founding Director Michelle Satter, FFP Deputy Director Ilyse McKimmie, and Indigenous Program Director N. Bird Runningwater, and are a key part of the Institute’s year-round continuum of customized artist support, including creative mentorship, direct granting, and tactical advice from Institute staff and industry professionals.


Michelle Satter

“We’re thrilled to be launching such a visionary group of filmmakers who have met this year’s challenges with an unstoppable resilience and spirit of collaboration and creativity,” said Satter. “Their stories bear witness to the world we’re living in, and give voice to characters and worlds that are both deeply personal and universal. We’re excited to provide meaningful and holistic mentorship and connections to these artists, and be part of their burgeoning creative and career development as writers and directors.”


“Support for Indigenous storytellers has been part of the Institute’s mission since its founding,” said Runningwater. “We’re excited to nurture this cohort of filmmakers and their stories, strengthening the Indigenous lens through which their stories are being told and supporting them along their creative journey to the screen and audiences.”


Creative Advisors for the Native Lab include: James Ashcroft, Kat Candler, Aurora Guerrero, and Jennifer Reeder.

Creative Advisors for the Directors Lab include: Directors Miguel Arteta, Joan Darling, Rick Famuyiwa, Gyula Gazdag (Artistic Director, Directors Lab), Lesli Linka Glatter, Keith Gordon, Randa Haines, Kasi Lemmons, Ira Sachs, Walter Salles, Joan Tewkesbury; DP’s Charlotte Bruus Christensen, Robert Elswit, Stephen Goldblatt, Bradford Young; Editors Joi McMillon, Michelle Tesoro and Dylan Tichenor, and Casting Directors Jodi Angstreich, Eyde Belasco, Maribeth Fox, Richard Hicks. Creative Advisors for the Screenwriters Lab include: Naomi Foner, John Gatins, Gyula Gazdag, Felicia Henderson, Amanda Idoko, Bráulio Mantovani, Malia Scotch Marmo, Tracy Oliver, Howard Rodman (Artistic Director, Screenwriters Lab), Tyger Williams, and Doug Wright.

The Sundance Institute Feature Film Program is supported by, a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation; Maja Kristin; NBCUniversal; Hollywood Foreign Press Association; Karen Lauder; Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund; Sandra and Malcolm Berman Charitable Foundation; Comedy Central; National Endowment for the Arts; NHK/NHK Enterprises, Inc.; Amazon Studios; Kimberly Steward—K Period Media; SAGindie; Philip Fung—A3 Foundation; Rosalie Swedlin and Robert Cort; Directors Guild of America; Deborah Reinisch and Michael Theodore Fund; and Writers Guild of America West.

The Sundance Institute Indigenous Program is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, WarnerMedia, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Nia Tero Foundation, Indigenous Screen Office, SAGindie, New Zealand Film Commission, Jenifer and Jeffrey Westphal, Indigenous Media Initiatives, Felix Culpa, Sarah Luther, and Susan Shilliday.


Fellows and projects selected for the 2021 Native Lab:

Miciana Alise (Tlingit)
Mia, Too         
In this life, a woman’s biggest challenges are the love she chooses to accept, the tough love of a well-meaning mother, and the absence of love that heartbreak leaves behind. Mia will have to face them all in order to find a way to finally love herself.

Miciana Alise interned with Jesse Collins Entertainment during the 2013 Black Entertainment Television Awards and served as First Assistant Director under Director Randy Reinholz during Perseverance Theatre’s production of an original Alaska Native play. She penned her first feature length script in 2018, leading to her selection as a 2019 Sundance Institute Indigenous Film Fellow. She hosts a YouTube channel focused on educating Native youth regarding current events and Indigenous history. Fancy Dance, a feature she co-wrote with Erica Tremblay, was included on the inaugural Indigenous List hosted by The Black List. She is a current Sundance Institute Screenwriting Fellow.

Doane Tulugaq Avery (Iñupiaq)
Mama Dragon
As a 40-year-old queer ex-Mormon begins to navigate the world as a recent divorcee, she is surprised to find support in raising her nonbinary child from an advocacy group called Mama Dragons, a Mormon led organization that breathes fire for their LGBTQ family members.

Doane Tulugaq Avery is a filmmaker whose stories focus on feminine, queer, and Indigenous character-driven narratives. She was the recipient of the LA Skins Fest Emerging Filmmaker Award and the imagineNATIVE Jane Glassco Award for Emerging Talent. Her short films have screened at Outfest, Oaxaca Film Fest, Seattle Queer Film Festival, and Māoriland. She was selected as a fellow for the Sundance Institute + IAIA Native Writers Workshop, the Barcid Foundation’s Native American TV Writers Lab, and the 2nd Annual Native American Writers Room sponsored by the Pop Culture Collaborative. She recently worked with Topple Productions as a co-writer on the forthcoming film Mothertrucker. She received an MFA in Film Directing from the California Institute of the Arts. Doane is from the Pacific Northwest and lives in Los Angeles.

Bryson Chun (Kanaka Maoli)
Poi Dogs
When a small-town, high-end Hawai’i dog groomer learns that a hit was put on her on the Dark Web, she has to race to find the culprit among her friends and family before it’s too late.

Bryson Chun is a Native Hawaiian filmmaker who has produced award-winning short and feature films in Hawai’i that have gone on to screen for PBS, The Smithsonian Institution, The Criterion Collection, and at festivals all over the world. He was a writing fellow for Sundance, imagineNATIVE, LA Skins, and ‘Ohina Labs where he developed his Greenlight award-winning short Other People under the mentorship of Thor Ragnarok writer Eric Pearson. His television pilot Poi Dogs was recently selected to be part of The Blacklist’s Inaugural Indigenous List. He was part of the 2021 CAPE New Writers Fellowship and is currently pursuing his MFA in Screenwriting from the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Alexandra Lazarowich (Cree)
Sweet Home Reservation
After the death of her aunt, a successful fashion business woman returns to her childhood home on the Cree reservation in Northern Alberta, Canada for the funeral. However unbeknownst to her large, loud Native family, she brings home her new fiancé — a musician from Malibu.​

Alexandra Lazarowich is an award-winning Cree filmmaker from northern Alberta. Her short film Fast Horse was honored with The Special Jury Prize for Directing at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Her body of work as director and producer include LakeIndian Rights for Indian WomenCree Code TalkerEmpty Metal and INAATE/SE/. She is the series producer for the CBC’s multi-award-winning comedy documentary series Still Standing. Her fellowship is made possible with support from the Indigenous Screen Office.

2021 Native Lab – Artist In Residence:

Charine Pilar Gonzales (San Ildefonso Pueblo)
Rosa (at booth #515)
An aspiring Pueblo photographer drops out of college and decides to sell her photos at Native art shows full-time to support her family. She struggles with self-doubt, competitive attitudes and understanding the market – in order to establish herself as an artist.

Charine Pilar Gonzales (San Ildefonso Pueblo) is a Tewa filmmaker whose work focuses on empowering women, celebrating resilience and laughing in-between. Gonzales is Lead Editor for Native Lens, a crowdsourced series by RMPBS and KSUT Tribal Radio. She’s a 2021 graduate from IAIA where she studied Cinematic Arts and Technology. She’s a current Artist in Business Leadership Fellow through First Peoples Fund. She’s an alumna of the Indigenous Film Opportunity Fellowship and Full Circle Fellowship, both through the Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program. Gonzales earned an English-Communication BA from Fort Lewis College in 2017. Her favorite foods are red chile and oven bread.

Tommy Pico (Kumeyaay) – writer
Tommy is a “sometimes” person: sometimes Brooklyn, sometimes rez, but never both. When his best friend becomes a punk singer, a dream Tommy wanted for himself, his identities begin to blur against a backdrop of punk music, ceremony, and the ghost of an ex he killed on the rez.

Tommy “Teebs” Pico is a poet, podcaster, and TV writer. He authored the books IRL, Nature Poem, Junk, and Feed. He hosts the podcasts Food 4 Thot and Scream, Queen! and writes on the TV shows Reservation Dogs and Resident Alien.

The 2021 Native Lab Fellows will be joined at Lab by the 2021 Full Circle Fellows:

Jamie John (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians)
Jamie John is a two-spirit Anishinaabe and Korean multidisciplinary artist living in their historic homeland of so-called Michigan. They’re an enrolled tribal citizen of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, a graduate in interdisciplinary arts at Interlochen Arts Academy, and currently reconnecting to their Anishinaabe ceremonial way of life. Art has been used as a tool to carve out a space for Jamie despite the impact of colonialism, intergenerational suffering, and gender violence. With works tackling topics of colonialism and historical loss, Jamie attempts to pull the thread of resistance to these atrocities through cultural connection and emphasizing collective survival.

Sarah Liese (Diné and an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians)
Sarah Liese is a master’s student at Ohio University, where she studies journalism and photography. She is a research assistant to Dr. Victoria LaPoe, which has allowed her to learn more about Indigenous reporting – a topic Liese is passionate about, as she is Diné and a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. In her free time, Sarah works as a poetry reader for the New Ohio Review. She plans to earn her master’s degree from Ohio University in April 2022 and begin her career as a documentary filmmaker, highlighting Indigenous stories. She is a graduate of Mississippi University in the state where she grew up and maintains strong family connections.

Christina Zuni (Isleta Pueblo)
Christina Zuni is a Native filmmaker and cinematographer from Isleta Pueblo, N.M. She is a soon-to-be graduate at New Mexico State University in the Digital Filmmaking program. Growing up in a culture-driven community, she developed an interest in pueblo art at a young age. The combination of Native art and visual media heavily influences the themes present in her work. By giving a voice to the unheard and unspoken, she advocates and empowers communities in ways that uplift them. Her goal in filmmaking is to enrich humanity’s interest in Native American traditions and encourage pueblo youth to find their creativity.

Fellows and projects selected for the 2021 Directors Lab are:

Fancy Dance (U.S.A.)
Erica Tremblay, co-writer/director
Miciana Alise, co-writer
Following the disappearance of her sister, a Native American hustler kidnaps her niece from her white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in the hopes of keeping what’s left of their family intact.

Erica Tremblay is an award-winning writer and director from the Seneca-Cayuga Nation. Her short film Little Chief premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and was included on IndieWire’s top 10 must-see short films at the fest. Tremblay was a 2018 Sundance Native Film Lab Fellow and she is a current Sundance Screenwriters Lab Fellow. She was recently honored as a 40 Under 40 Native American. Tremblay lives on Cayuga Lake in upstate New York where she is studying her Indigenous language.

Miciana Alise interned with the Native American Journalists Association in 2011 and 2012.
She served as first assistant director under the guidance of director Randy Reinholz during
his production of the original Alaska Native play, William Inc., for Perseverance Theater in
Juneau, Alaska. Alise self-published her first book, Heavens & Heathens, a young adult
fantasy fiction novel in 2016, and was selected as a Sundance Institute Indigenous Film
Fellow in 2018. Alise is a 2021 Sundance Screenwriters Lab fellow and she is currently a student in the Film and Media Studies Program at Arizona State University.

forward (U.S.A.)
Cris Gris, director
Mary Ann Anane, writer
After moving to a working-class part of the Hamptons, a Latinx teen employed as a housecleaner for the elite explores identity and love in the shadow of gentrification and inevitable loss.

Cris Gris is a Mexican filmmaker whose films have screened internationally in prestigious festivals, including La Semaine de la Critique, Festival de Cannes. She’s known for moving between acting, writing, and directing, and landed her first leading role in the feature independent drama Fish Bones (2018). Her short San Miguel (2018) received the Spike Lee Film Production Fund, the HFPA Fellows Fund, and was named a 2019 NBR student grant winner. Her short Pia & Mike (2019) premiered at FICM. Gris is a Film Independent Project Involve 2020 fellow and a 2021 Sundance Screenwriters Lab fellow. forward will be her feature directorial debut.

Mary Ann Anane is a Ghanaian-born, New-Jersey raised screenwriter and novelist. She is a graduate of Northwestern University with a concentration in playwriting. Anane is a 2021 Sundance Screenwriters Lab Fellow, 2020 Athena Feature Lab fellow, 2020 Film Independent’s Project Involve fellow, and a finalist for MACRO’s inaugural Episodic Lab. Outside of writing, Anane was a development assistant at Endeavor Content, a producer’s assistant on The Farewell and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and has worked on off-Broadway productions at New York Theatre Workshop. All her titles are lowercased.

The Macrobiotic Toker (U.S.A.)
Tracy Droz Tragos, writer/director
Living in a mommune, balancing her alternative lifestyle and a bitter separation, Sula’s life is plunged into potential chaos by an unplanned pregnancy. After discovering how to procure abortion pills online, she travels an unexpected path to become an underground supplier, an accidental pro-choice activist, and ultimately, a convicted felon. Inspired by true events.

Tracy Droz Tragos is a writer, filmmaker, and mother of two kids. Her documentary work includes Abortion: Stories Women Tell, the HBO film about unplanned pregnancies and resilience; Be Good, Smile Pretty, an Emmy Award-winning documentary about the grief and healing of survivors of the Vietnam War; and Rich Hill (Grand Jury Prize, U.S. Documentary, 2014 Sundance Film Festival) for which she embedded in the homes of low-income families in rural Missouri. In 2020, Tragos won a Guggenheim Fellowship for her long-form work on the documentary Sarah. She received her MFA in screenwriting from USC.

The Mysterious Gaze of the Flamingo (Chile)
Diego Céspedes, writer/director
Chile, 1984. A remote mining town is stricken with a mysterious disease, said to be transmitted between men through eye contact. Twelve-year-old Lidia must protect her older brother Alexo, who raised her, when he comes under threat from the fearful townspeople.

Diego Céspedes is a Chilean filmmaker. In 2018, he wrote and directed his first short, The Summer of the Electric Lion, which won the Cinéfondation First Prize at Cannes Film Festival and the Nest First Prize at San Sebastian Film Festival, and also screened at Sundance, Palm Springs, and AFI Fest, among others. The Mysterious Gaze of the Flamingo will mark his feature directorial debut. The project has been supported by the Cinéfondation Residence (Cannes), the Ikusmira Berriak Residence (San Sebastian) and the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. It also won the TorinoFilmLab and the Ibermedia production fund.

Neon Tilapia (Kenya, U.S.A.)
Tony Koros, writer/director
When a dangerous water-weed threatens to take over his lake and livelihood, a fisherman in rural Kenya forms an unexpected alliance with his estranged granddaughter to fight back using glowing, genetically modified fish. As strange lights appear in the lake, chaos erupts in the village, and the two are challenged to reach a new understanding of each other.

Tony Koros is a New York-based Kenyan screenwriter, director and producer. He is a 2021 Sundance Screenwriters Lab Fellow, a recipient of the 2020 Tribeca Film Institute Sloan Grant, a 2020 Cine Qua Non Lab Script Revision Lab fellowship, the Martin E. Segal Production Grant and the 2019 Hollywood Foreign Press Association grant. His latest short film, Tithes & Offerings, premiered in competition at Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival 2019 and has since been acquired for distribution by CANAL+. His previous short films have screened at over 70 international film festivals including Palm Springs International Shortfest where he won the Alexis Prize in 2017, Clermont-Ferrand 2018, FESPACO 2017, and won the Sembene prize at the Zanzibar International Film Festival. He holds an MFA in Filmmaking from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (2018).

Parts & Labor (U.S.A.)
Cristina Costantini, co-writer/director
Jacob Albert, co-writer
Working single mom Maria Burgos signs on as a gestational surrogate for a wealthy, controlling New York couple to pay for her son’s college tuition. She tolerates their degrading demands until the relationship explodes, and Maria seizes the moment to blackmail her way to the American Dream.

Cristina Costantini is an Emmy Award-winning director. Her latest documentary Mucho Mucho Amor premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and on Netflix in 2020. The film was nominated for a Critics Choice Award and won the Best Latinx Film award from NALIP. Her first feature documentary, Science Fair, won the Sundance Festival Favorite Award as well as the SXSW Audience Award, a Critics Choice Award for Best First Time Director, and an Emmy award. The Milwaukee native is a Yale grad who now lives in California with her husband and their pug dog Harriet.

Jacob Albert lives in Oakland. He ghostwrites popular science books for research scientists and is at work on a novel. Formerly a Stegner Fellow at Stanford, he has received fellowships from the Blue Mountain Center, the Michener Center, and the Elizabeth George Foundation.

A Real One (U.S.A.)
McKenzie Chinn, writer/director
A bright teenager in a working class neighborhood on Chicago’s south side discovers the power and beauty of true friendship when her illicit relationship with a teacher is discovered amid the final weeks of her senior year in high school.

McKenzie Chinn is a filmmaker, actor, and poet based in Chicago. She is the writer and lead actor of Olympia, which premiered at the 2018 LA Film Festival and won the Audience Award at the 2019 Bentonville Film Festival. Her poetry has been nominated for multiple awards including a Pushcart Prize. She is part of Growing Concerns Poetry Collective whose releases include the album BIG DARK BRIGHT FUTURES (2020) and the poetry collection Five Fifths (Candor Arts 2018). She is a 2021 Sundance Screenwriters Lab Fellow and the recipient of the inaugural NBCUniversal Grant through the Bentonville Film Foundation.

Stampede (U.S.A.)
Sontenish Myers, writer/director
On a southern plantation in the 1800s, Lena is an 11-year-old slave with telekinetic abilities she cannot yet control. When she is separated from her mother and moved into close quarters with the volatile Master’s wife, Lena must grapple with the danger of her gift as well as its potential power.

Sontenish Myers is a Jamaican American writer-director based in Harlem, New York. She is a graduate of NYU’s Graduate Film program where she’s now an adjunct professor. Her short film, Cross My Heart, won the Alexis Award for Best Emerging Student Filmmaker at the Palm Springs International Shortfest and the Vimeo Staff Pick Award at Hamptons International Film Festival. Stampede, her debut feature, was accepted into the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, HIFF Screenwriting Lab, Film Independent Screenwriting Lab and IFP Week. It is also a selected script on the Black List 2019, and a recipient of SFFILM’s Rainin Grant and Tribeca All Access Grant.

The 2021 Directors Lab Fellows will be joined at the Screenwriters Lab by:

White Knuckle (U.S.A.)
Xavier Coleman, writer/director
When a serial killer begins targeting the gentrifiers of a dwindling, historically Black neighborhood, a young newcomer must determine the murderer’s identity—before she’s next.

Xavier Coleman is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker with a focus on the intersection of genre and identity. His most recent directorial effort was the short film, White Knuckle. The film screened at the Movies Under the Stars series presented by the N.Y.C. Mayor’s Office, and was listed in AMC and Shudder’s Horror Noire syllabus of Black horror. The feature-length screenplay for White Knuckle was selected for the 2021 Sundance Screenwriters Intensive. As a nonfiction editor, Coleman has worked with writers and directors including Elliot Page, Ira Glass, and Joe Berlinger. His latest documentary feature film as an editor, There’s Something in the Water, premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

About Sundance Institute
As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive. Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such recent projects as Clemency, I Carry You With Me, Never Rarely Sometimes AlwaysZola, Time, Minari, Boys State, American Factory, The Farewell, HoneylandOne Child NationThe Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale StationCity So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.



Berlinale Summer Special to Take Place as an Outdoor Event

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Good news from the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale)! The plan to hold the Berlinale Summer Special (June 9-20, 2021) as an outdoor event is now set. The Berlinale is pleased to be able to give audiences the enjoyment of an open-air cinema experience at 16 venues in total at the Summer Special. Both Berlin’s falling 7-day incidence for COVID-19, as well as positive signals by government offices to support the request for a pilot project with mandatory testing, have reinforced the festival directors’ planning of an all-outdoor event.


Carlo Chatrian, left, and Mariette Rissenbeek, Directors of the Berlinale.

“We’re extremely pleased about the new concept for the Berlinale Summer Special, despite having planned it differently at the outset. Audiences will be getting a very special, collective festival experience – something we’ve all been missing for such a long time. The Summer Special is geared towards re-igniting the desire to go to the cinema and to contribute to the revival of cultural activities with an audience. We’ll be able to present the festival program to Berlin audiences in almost every part of the city at a total of 16 venues, including a specially created outdoor cinema at the historic Museum Island Berlin as the main venue. The “Kiez-Kino” local cinema screenings will also take place as outdoor events, and be more strongly represented in different parts of the city. Thanks to the generous additional funding by the BKM, Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media Monika Grütters, for the festival’s two-phase format in 2021, and the support of the Berlin Senate, we can now prepare the Summer Special and look forward to welcoming filmmakers and jury members who can make the journey to Berlin in June,” comment the directors of the Berlinale, Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian, on their recent decision.


The Berlin International Film Festival is now working at full speed to implement the outdoor festival concept. Hygiene and security plans have been developed and will be coordinated in close dialogue with the venues. The Summer Special will celebrate its opening on June 9 at the main venue at Museum Island Berlin, and on June 13, the awards ceremony will take place following the decisions of the official juries already made in March. In addition, the Berlinale Documentary Award, sponsored by Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg and endowed with 40,000 euros, and the GWFF Best First Feature Award, sponsored by the Gesellschaft zur Wahrnehmung von Film- und Fernsehrechten and endowed with 50,000 euros, will also be awarded at the main venue at Museum Island Berlin. Other special events at the Museum Island Berlin venue may be added to the schedule of award ceremonies and film premieres.

The Summer Special will also offer selected screenings for younger audiences. Furthermore, the Children’s and Youth Juries of the Generation section, inactive in March due to the pandemic, will watch the competition films of Kplus and 14plus for the Summer Special, and award the Crystal Bears to the winning films during the event.

The Summer Special program will be available at as of May 20. Ticket sales will start on May 27.

Flowers of the Berlinale (Photo by @Larry_Gleeson)

The films of the Berlinale Summer Special will be screened at these open-air cinema locations:


Freiluftkino Museumsinsel

Location: Bodestr. 1-3, 10178 Berlin


Freiluftkino Friedrichshain

Location: Volkspark Friedrichshain, 10249 Berlin


Freiluftkino Rehberge
Location: Volkspark Rehberge, 13351 Berlin


Freiluftkino Kreuzberg

Location: Hof des Kunstquartier Bethanien am Mariannenplatz, entrance via Adalbertstraße, 10997 Berlin


Freiluftkino Hasenheide

Location: Volkspark Hasenheide, 10967 Berlin


ARTE Sommerkino Kulturforum

Location: Matthäikirchplatz 4/6, 10785 Berlin


ARTE Sommerkino Schloss Charlottenburg

Location: Spandauer Damm 10-22, 14059 Berlin


Open Air Kino HKW 

Location: John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10, 10557 Berlin


silent green 

Location: Gerichtstr. 35, 13347 Berlin


The open-air screenings will also take place in following “Kiez-Kino” cinemas:


Atelier Gardens Freiluftkino @ BUFA

Location: Oberlandstr. 26-35, 12099 Berlin


Freilichtbühne Weißensee

Location: Große Seestr.10, 13086 Berlin


Freiluftkino Biesdorfer Parkbühne

Location: Schlosspark Biesdorf, Nordpromenade 5, 12683 Berlin


Freiluftkino Friedrichshagen

Location: Hinter dem Kurpark 13, 12587 Berlin


Freiluftkino Pompeji

Location: Laskerstr. 5, 10245 Berlin


Freiluftkino of Filmrauschpalast

Location: Lehrterstr. 35, 10557, Berlin    



Location: Wasgenstraße 75, 14129 Berlin

Larry Gleeson stands underneath the Berlinale Bear near Potsdamer Plaza between screenings at the 67th Berlinale. (Photo courtesy of @HollywoodGlee)




Posted by Larry Gleeson

The legendary director and cinephile Martin Scorcese will join the TCM Classic Film Festival on TCM and HBO Max for two special introductions, with his Oscar-nominated gangster drama GOODFELLAS (1990) in the Classics Curated by TCM hub on HBO Max and MEAN STREETS (1973) on TCM airing tonight, May 6, at 11:15 PM ET.

Both TCM and HBO Max networks are screening tonight’s Opening Night film at 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT — with the 60th-anniversary screening of “West Side Story” (1961) with new and exclusive interviews with the film’s stars Rita Moreno, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn.

The 2021 TCM Classic Film Festival runs through Sunday, May 9, on two virtual venues: the TCM network and the Classics Curated by TCM Hub on HBO Max.

While the respective lineups are complementary, they are also different. Access to the TCM lineup can be found here. Access to the HBO Max lineup of movies can be found here.

Tune in to Ben Mankiewicz’s introductory video with tips and tricks on How To Fest! In addition, check out the TCM How To Guide!

TCM Classic Film Festival Starts Tomorrow

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 2021 TCM Classic Film Festival begins tomorrow – Thursday, May 6 – and runs through Sunday, May 9, at two virtual venues: the TCM network and the Classics Curated by TCM Hub on HBO Max.

While the respective lineups are complementary, they are also different. Access to the TCM lineup can be found here. Access to the HBO Max lineup of movies can be found here.

Both TCM and HBO Max networks are screening the festival’s Opening Night film on Thursday, May 6, at 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT — with the 60th-anniversary screening of “West Side Story” (1961) with new and exclusive interviews with the film’s stars Rita Moreno, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn.

“Curating the Classics” was held this afternoon and had the distinctive feel of the traditional TCM Classic Film Festival Press Conference. *(Pictured top to bottom are some of the curators, Ben Mankiewicz, Anne King, Genevieve Magillucuddy, Dextor Fedor, and Susane Fedor. Not pictured Charlie Tabesh and one other.)


This year’s festival seems to be hitting all the marks. Last year’s initial festival cancellation felt like the doomsday device had been activated only to be annihilated with a pivot that pushed the first major film festival into virtual space. Personally, last year’s edition was a thrill ride and from the architecture in place, this year’s festival appears headed to a place where we won’t need cars!

So, tune in to the TCM network and/or HBO Max for four fantastic days featuring a curated selection of films reflecting a broad spectrum of classic movies – each surrounded by new interviews, special presentations, archival content, and clips from past TCM Classic Film Festivals. The HBO Max films will remain available throughout the month of May.

Check out the How to Fest Guide for all the tips and tricks to navigating this year’s festival – found here: TCM-CFF_HowToGuide

Until next time, I look forward to seeing you at the movies!

Larry Gleeson, left, with 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival’s special guest, Angie Dickinson, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel during the pre-festival Meet and Greet. (HollywoodGlee photo)


Posted by Larry Gleeson



TO BE HELD JUNE 22-27, 2021 


The Hybrid Festival Will Feature Virtual Offerings 

As Well As Limited Capacity In-Person Screenings  

At The Storied AFI Silver Theatre And Cultural Center In Silver Spring, Maryland 

AFI DOCS, the American Film Institute’s annual documentary celebration will once again offer an opportunity for movie fans to view documentary films online and anticipate welcoming a limited number of festival-goers back to the storied AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, MD for in-person screenings. Passes go on sale today for the virtual experience. Individual tickets for in-person screenings and at-home opportunities go on sale June 8. AFI DOCS will be held June 22-27, 2021.

“AFI is committed to both the peerless magic of in-person screenings and the vast accessibility of virtual offerings, which last year allowed AFI DOCS to reach festival-goers in all 50 states,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO. “With both options now available to movie lovers across the nation, we look forward to celebrating the very best the documentary art form has to offer.”

Now in its 19th year, AFI DOCS will be held June 22-27. The festival program will include world premieres and works by master and emerging filmmakers alike. Last year, AFI DOCS presented a successful, fully-virtual festival with 59 films from 11 countries, opening with Apple and A24’s BOYS STATE and closing with the world premiere of JIMMY CARTER ROCK & ROLL PRESIDENT, which concluded with a surprise conversation with President Jimmy Carter.

Passes can be purchased now at Early Bird pricing will be available until June 1. Tickets for individual and in-person screenings will be available June 8.


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, Rory Kennedy, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Stanley Nelson and Frederick Wiseman.  Now in its 19th year, the festival will be held June 22-27, 2021. Visit and connect on and


About the American Film Institute (AFI)
Established in 1967, the American Film Institute is the nation’s nonprofit 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


Elizabeth Ward, AFI DOCS PR,

American Film Institute: Stacy Adamski,