Category Archives: #AFI

AFI FEST 2018 Announces Full Lineup of Galas

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Here is the full lineup of Galas that will screen at AFI FEST 2018 presented by Audi.

The screenings are: the Opening Night Gala is ON THE BASIS OF SEX , Thursday, November 8; the GREEN BOOK (DIR Peter Farrelly) on Friday, November 9; the World Premiere of the episodic series THE KOMINSKY METHOD (created by Chuck Lorre) on Saturday, November 10; THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS (DIR Ethan Coen, Joel Coen) on Sunday, November 11; the World Premiere of BIRD BOX (DIR Susanne Bier) on Monday, November 12; DESTROYER (DIR Karyn Kusama), on Tuesday, November 13; and WIDOWS (DIR Steve McQueen) on Wednesday, November 14; and, The Closing Night Gala, MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS  (DIR Josie Rourke) will take place on Thursday, November 15, 2018 All Gala screenings will take place at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

ON THE BASIS OF SEX – The film stars Academy Award® nominee Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Jack Reynor and Cailee Spaeny, with Academy Award® nominee Sam Waterston and Academy Award® winner Kathy Bates. Inspired by a true story, ON THE BASIS OF SEX is the stirring and spirited film that follows young lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she teams with her husband Marty to bring a groundbreaking case before the U.S. Court of Appeals and overturn a century of gender discrimination. Directed by AFI Conservatory alumna Mimi Leder (AFI Class of 1973).

GREEN BOOK – Academy Award® nominee Viggo Mortensen and Academy Award®winner Mahershala Ali star in Participant Media and DreamWorks Pictures’ GREEN BOOK.  In his foray into powerfully dramatic work as a feature director, Peter Farrelly helms the film inspired by a true friendship that transcended race, class and the 1962 Mason-Dixon line. When Tony Lip (Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Ali), a world-class black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on “The Green Book” to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans.  Confronted with racism, and unexpected humanity and humor, they are forced to set aside differences to survive and thrive on the journey of a lifetime.

BIRD BOX – When a mysterious force decimates the world’s population, only one thing is certain: if you see it, you take your life. Facing the unknown, Malorie finds love, hope and a new beginning only for it to unravel. Now she must flee with her two children down a treacherous river to the one place left that may offer sanctuary. But to survive, they’ll have to undertake the perilous two-day journey blindfolded. Academy Award® winner Sandra Bullock leads an all-star cast in this Netflix film that includes Trevante Rhodes, with Sarah Paulson, and John Malkovich in this compelling new thriller from Academy Award® winner Susanne Bier.

THE KOMINSKY METHOD – The sun isn’t setting on the once famous Sandy Kominsky and his longtime agent Norman Newlander. Academy Award® winners Michael Douglas (Kominsky) and Alan Arkin (Newlander) star as two friends tackling life’s inevitable curveballs as they navigate their later years in Los Angeles, a city that values youth and beauty. Both comedic and emotional, THE KOMINSKY METHOD is an eight-episode, half-hour single camera show created by eight-time Emmy® nominee Chuck Lorre. The Netflix show is written by Al Higgins, David Javerbaum and Lorre, who also directed the first episode. AFI FEST will present the first three episodes of the series.

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Pictured above: THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS

THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS – A six-part Western anthology film, a series of tales about the American frontier told through the unique and incomparable voice of Joel and Ethan Coen. Each chapter tells a distinct story about the American West.

BIRD BOX – When a mysterious force decimates the world’s population, only one thing is certain: if you see it, you take your life. Facing the unknown, Malorie finds love, hope and a new beginning only for it to unravel. Now she must flee with her two children down a treacherous river to the one place left that may offer sanctuary. But to survive, they’ll have to undertake the perilous two-day journey blindfolded. Academy Award® winner Sandra Bullock leads an all-star cast in this Netflix film that includes Trevante Rhodes, with Sarah Paulson, and John Malkovich in this compelling new thriller from Academy Award® winner Susanne Bier.

DESTROYER – Director Karyn Kusama’s DESTROYER is a gritty, riveting and complex crime thriller starring Oscar® winner Nicole Kidman in a virtuoso performance as hardened detective Erin Bell, worn down to the nub by the rigors of her job and the aftermath of an undercover FBI sting gone horribly wrong. When an old nemesis (Toby Kebbell) resurfaces, Erin, haunted by guilt and loss, becomes hell-bent on finding him — seizing her last shot at redemption. The film is written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (AFI Conservatory Class of 1995), both of whom also produced alongside Fred Berger.

WIDOWS – From Academy Award®-winning director Steve McQueen (12 YEARS A SLAVE) and co-writer and bestselling author Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”) comes a blistering, modern-day thriller set against the backdrop of crime, passion and corruption. WIDOWS is the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica (Oscar® winner Viola Davis), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.

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Pictured above: MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS – The film stars Academy Award® nominees Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie and explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart (Ronan). Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. But Scotland and England fall under the rule of the compelling Elizabeth I (Robbie). Each young Queen beholds her “sister” in fear and fascination. Rivals in power and love, and female regents in a masculine world, the two must decide how to play the game of marriage versus independence. Determined to rule as much more than a figurehead, Mary asserts her claim to the English throne, threatening Elizabeth’s sovereignty. Betrayal, rebellion and conspiracies within each court imperil both thrones — and change the course of history.

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(Source: AFI Press Release)

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS World Premiere to Close AFI FEST 2018

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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AFI FEST presented by Audi will close with the World Premiere of Focus Features and Working Title’s MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.  Directed by Josie Rourke and written by Academy Award® nominee Beau Willimon, the historical drama is based on John Guy’s biography, “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart.”  The film stars Academy Award® nominees Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, along with Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, Gemma Chan, Martin Compston, Ismael Cordova, Brendan Coyle, Ian Hart, Adrian Lester, James McArdle, David Tennant and Guy Pearce.  The Closing Night Gala will take place on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre.

“This commanding story of powerful women and political rivalry that shaped world history will close AFI FEST on a high note,” said Michael Lumpkin, Director, AFI Festivals.  “This year’s festival showcases compelling women-directed narratives that challenge the status quo, and MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS is no exception.” 

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart (Ronan). Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. But Scotland and England fall under the rule of the compelling Elizabeth I (Robbie). Each young Queen beholds her “sister” in fear and fascination. Rivals in power and love, and female regents in a masculine world, the two must decide how to play the game of marriage versus independence. Determined to rule as much more than a figurehead, Mary asserts her claim to the English throne, threatening Elizabeth’s sovereignty. Betrayal, rebellion and conspiracies within each court imperil both thrones — and change the course of history.

Patron Packages ensure reserved seats for Closing Night. A limited number of individual tickets to Opening Night and other screenings are also made available at no charge thanks to the event sponsors. Click here to purchase Patron Packages, which can include access to Galas and other high-demand films and events. Individual tickets will be available on AFI.com beginning October 30.

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(Source: AFI Press Release)

AFI FEST 2018 to Open with World Premiere ON THE BASIS OF SEX

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 32nd edition of AFI FEST presented by Audi will open with the World Premiere of Participant Media’s ON THE BASIS OF SEX, in association with Alibaba Pictures and distributed by Focus Features. Directed by AFI Conservatory alumna Mimi Leder (AFI Class of 1973), the inspiring drama tells the story of young lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg before she became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

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The film stars Academy Award® nominee Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Jack Reynor and Cailee Spaeny, with Academy Award® nominee Sam Waterston and Academy Award® winner Kathy Bates. The film is produced by longtime AFI Conservatory lecturer Robert W. Cort and Participant Media’s Jonathan King. The screenplay is written by Daniel Stiepleman. The Opening Night Gala screening will take place Thursday, November 8, 2018, at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre.

Screen Shot 2018-10-12 at 11.10.18 PM“As one of the first women ever admitted to the AFI Conservatory, it’s particularly meaningful to me that ON THE BASIS OF SEX will open AFI FEST 2018,” said Mimi Leder. “My time at the Conservatory was a life-changing experience and informed my creative journey. I am forever grateful. The origin story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in this 25th anniversary year of her appointment to the Supreme Court, couldn’t come at a more important moment in our history nor be shown at a more relevant place than AFI FEST, a symbol of artistic integrity and the enduring power of cinema. I hope girls and young women in particular will see the film and find inspiration to realize their own unlimited potential.”

Inspired by a true story, ON THE BASIS OF SEX is the stirring and spirited film that follows young lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she teams with her husband Marty to bring a groundbreaking case before the U.S. Court of Appeals and overturn a century of gender discrimination.

The film will be released on December 25, 2018, in line with Justice Ginsburg’s 25th anniversary on the Supreme Court.

Patron Packages ensure reserved seats for Opening Night. A limited number of individual tickets to Opening Night and other screenings are also made available at no charge thanks to the event sponsors. Click here to purchase Patron Packages, which can include access to Galas and other high-demand films and events. Individual tickets will be available on AFI.com beginning October 30.

(Source: AFI Press Release)

AFI FEST 2018 Announces an Evening With Nicole Kidman

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI FEST 2018 presented by Audi will host An Evening With Nicole Kidman. The event will include a conversation with the Academy Award®-winning actor in tribute to her illustrious career, followed by a Gala screening of her latest film, Annapurna Pictures’ DESTROYER (DIR Karyn Kusama), on Tuesday, November 13, at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre.

Nicole Kidman received the Best Actress Academy Award® for THE HOURS (2002), and also earned Oscar® nominations for MOULIN ROUGE! (2001), RABBIT HOLE (2010) and LION (2016). Her additional credits include DEAD CALM (1989), DAYS OF THUNDER (1990), TO DIE FOR (1995), PRACTICAL MAGIC (1998), EYES WIDE SHUT (1999), THE OTHERS (2001), COLD MOUNTAIN (2003), BIRTH (2004), DOGVILLE (2004), THE PAPERBOY (2012), PADDINGTON (2014), THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER (2017), THE BEGUILED (2017) and BOY ERASED (2018). She earned a Primetime Emmy® , a Golden Globe, a Critics’ Choice Award and SAG Award for her performance in BIG LITTLE LIES.

Director Karyn Kusama’s DESTROYER is a gritty, riveting and complex crime thriller starring Oscar® winner Nicole Kidman in a virtuoso performance as hardened detective Erin Bell, worn down to the nub by the rigors of her job and the aftermath of an undercover FBI sting gone horribly wrong. When an old nemesis (Toby Kebbell) resurfaces, Erin, haunted by guilt and loss, becomes hell-bent on finding him — seizing her last shot at redemption.

The film is written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (AFI Conservatory Class of 1995), both of whom also produced alongside Fred Berger.

Go to AFI.com now to purchase Patron Packages, which can include access to Galas and other high-demand films and events. A limited number of individual tickets will be available free of charge on AFI.com beginning October 30.

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Source: www.afi.com

Meet the Press Film Festival with AFI completes its 2nd year

Posted by Larry Gleeson

In case you missed it, NBC Universal and the American Film Institute partnered up for a timely, election-issue based film festival, dubbed MEET THE PRESS FILM FESTIVAL WITH AFI at the Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema in Washington, D.C., on October 8th, 2018.

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A MEET THE PRESS FILM FESTIVAL WITH AFI volunteer provides vital information to an early ticket holder at the Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema on October 8th, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Meet the Press is the number one most-watched Sunday public affairs show and the longest running program in television history. This was the second year in a row NBC Universal teamed up with AFI marking a dramatic brand expansion beyond the television platform. Last year three of the films were nominated for Academy Awards and two were nominated for Emmy Awards. This year nearly two dozen films (twenty-three in all) from HBO, Netflix, The New York Times and filmmakers from across the country spotlighted key political and socio-economic issues while illuminating their impact on American citizens ahead of next months midterm elections.

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This year’s films were moderated by NBC anchors and correspondents Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd, Jacob Soboroff, Hallie Jackson, Craig Melvin, Harry Smith, Kasie Hunt and Kristen Welker. Selected films will soon be available for a month-long showcase on the NBC News Digital platforms and apps, including AppleTV, Roku, Amazon Fire as well as Hulu, AOL and Comcast X1.

*Featured photo from left to right: NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs correspondent and political journalist, Andrea Mitchell; Directors, Brett Story, Samantha Knowles and Stefano Da Fre engaging in a panel discussion following the film program, “On the Ballot.” (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

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(Source: Meet the Press Film Festival with AFI program)

Snake Oil, Tension and Sexual Assault Underscore Meet the Press Film Festival with AFI “On the Ballot” Program

Posted by Larry Gleeson

 

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NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs, correspondent and political journalist, Andrea Mitchell, introduces the Meet the Press Film Festival with AFI “On the Ballot” Film Program inside the Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema on October 8th, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Featuring independent filmmaking artists, the Meet the Press Film Festival with AFI “On the Ballot” Film Program captured the audience imagination inside the Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema, on October 8th, 2018, in Washington D.C. Meet the Press is the most watched Sunday morning public affairs show and the longest running program in television history. In a dramatic brand expansion, the television show has joined forces with the American Film Institute for a second consecutive year to spotlight critical election issues facing the American electorate before an impending midterm election.

And as if tensions were not already elevated with the Judge Kavanaugh hearing and subsequent FBI background sojourn into alleged sexual assault claims against Judge Kavanaugh by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, filmmakers Brett Story, Samantha Knowles and Stefano Da Fre crafted their respective documentaries, Camperforce, The Blue Line, and The Girl Who Cannot Speak, on explosive issues of supporting local law enforcement juxtaposed against the Black Lives Matter Movement (The Blue Line), in Warwick, Rhode Island, Amazon giant’s exploitation of workers (Camperforce) left behind following the 2008 housing crisis and financial collapse of major banking institutions and preeminent investment houses with a third party, Camper Force, selling a lifestyle of joy and exercise to financially indigent people living out of recreational vehicles as they work 12-hour shifts for $11 an hour without retirement or healthcare benefits as they try to make ends meet after losing a lifetime of savings, and, five cases of sexual assault including one perpetrated upon a sixteen year-old girl, virtually speechless, (The Girl Who Cannot Speak) shown only stating her name at the film’s conclusion.

Regardless of where your political loyalties fall, these films are eerily timely. And, while truth can be relative, facts cannot. There is no such thing as an alternative fact. Discernment, yes. Alternative facts, no.

 

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From left to right, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs correspondent and political journalist, Andrea Mitchell; Directors, Brett Story, Samantha Knowles and Stefano Da Fre engaging in a panel discussion following the Meet the Press Film Festival with AFI Film Program, “On the Ballot,”  October 8th, 2018, at the Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Without further adieu, I encourage you to watch the select Meet the Press Film Festival with AFI films, soon to be made available for a month-long showcase on the NBC News Digital platforms and apps, including AppleTV, Roku, Amazon Fire as well as Hulu, AOL and Comcast X1. While you won’t be privy to the panel discussions led by the NBC anchors and correspondents, please feel free to post your comments on HollywoodGlee and together we will find common ground. Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

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MEET THE PRESS FILM FESTIVAL WITH AFI REVEALS 2018 FILM SLATE

Posted by Larry Gleeson

PRESSING ISSUES HIGHLIGHTED AHEAD OF MIDTERMS

23 Short Films Spotlight Eight Issues Affecting Voters

Second-Annual Festival Will Be Held October 7-8 in Washington, D.C.

NBC News Anchors and Correspondents to Introduce Films and Moderate Discussions

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018 – The Meet the Press Film Festival in Collaboration with the American Film Institute (AFI) hits the big screen this fall for the second year, featuring nearly two dozen films spotlighting critical issues ahead of the midterm elections. This year’s festival will be held in Washington, D.C., October 7-8, headquartered at the Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema, and will feature 23 short-length documentaries from HBO, Netflix, The New York Times and filmmakers from across the country.

The selected 2018 films, three of which are making their world premieres, will focus on issues affecting millions of Americans as they prepare to cast their ballots in November, such as immigration, voting rights and gun control. Each screening will include a Q&A with the filmmaker, moderated by NBC News correspondents and anchors, including Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell, Craig Melvin, Jacob Soboroff, Hallie Jackson, Kasie Hunt, Kristen Welker and Harry Smith.

Meet the Press, the number-one most-watched Sunday show and the longest-running program in television history, announced its collaboration with AFI in August 2017, marking a dramatic brand expansion extending beyond the news-making television platform. During its inaugural year, the festival showcased 16 short documentaries exploring wide-ranging issues. Three of the films were nominated for Academy Awards.

See below for descriptions of the 2018 films. Tickets to the festival are on sale now and available here. Select films will be available, beginning October 8, for a month-long showcase on NBC News Digital platforms and apps, including AppleTV, Roku and Amazon Fire, as well as other on-demand services such as Hulu, AOL and Comcast X1.

Surviving After Service
Veterans and Service, moderated by Chuck Todd

  • “We Are Not Done Yet”: The creative journey of ten U.S. veterans of varied backgrounds that come together in hopes of battling their traumatic military histories through the art of the written word. Grappling with PTSD, the “warrior poets” share fears, vulnerabilities and victories that eventually culminate into a live performance of a collaborative poem under the direction of actor Jeffrey Wright. Directed by: Sareen Hairabedian.

On the Ballot
2018 Midterm Issues, moderated by Andrea Mitchell

  • “Camperforce”: For the past ten years, Amazon has recruited workers for Camperforce, a labor unit made up of RVers who serve as seasonal warehouse employees. Directed by Brett Story.
  • “The Blue Line”: When is a line of paint on the street worth screaming at your neighbor about? Filmmaker Samantha Knowles focuses on a small town that erupts into controversy when a blue line is painted in support of police on a street in the town center. The film is a parable of political division in contemporary America and all the dismay that comes with it — but also an example of how communities can find common ground. Directed by: Samantha Knowles.
  • “The Girl Who Cannot Speak”: Edited by Emmy Award winner Krysia Carter-Giez, the documentary explores five women’s true stories of sexual abuse. It tells the story of women from different countries, ages and walks of life. One victim, Charlotte, a 15-year old girl, embodies a thread to each woman’s story. Directed by: Stefano Da Fre, Laura Pellegrini.

The Land I Love
Climate, Home and Tradition, moderated by Hallie Jackson

  • “Alaska DGAF”: On July 4, 2017, North Korea tested a long-range missile that, for the first time, would be powerful enough to reach the United States — specifically, the great state of Alaska. And instead of the doomsday preparations you might expect from a place threatened by nuclear annihilation, Alaskans collectively…shrugged. Directed by: David Freid.
  • “Home Beyond the Water”: The community of Isles de Jean Charles, Louisiana, is fighting to survive as its land sinks into the encroaching waters. Now, winning the first-of-its-kind, multi-million-dollar grant for a climate resilience project may help it survive, and its community relocation may provide a template for the future. Directed by: Nicky Milne.
  • “Climate and the Cross”: America’s evangelicals have traditionally been the bedrock of conservative politics, including on climate change. But a loud debate is happening across the country, with some evangelical Christians protesting in the name of protecting the Earth, seeing it as a duty to be done in God’s name. With stories from across the country showing the conflict between generations, races and classes, could it be a surprising section of Christian America that might show hope for the country’s attitude to climate change? Directed by: Chloe White.

My Democracy
Voting Rights and Civic Associations, moderated by Craig Melvin

  • “Let My People Vote”: Filmed in Tampa during the 2016 presidential election, this vérité short covers a day in the life of civil rights activist and former felon Desmond Meade. What begins as an upbeat day of faith in our democratic process ends in a heartbreaking realization for Desmond: Jim Crow is not dead. Directed by: Gilda Brasch.
  • “Public Money”: Since 2012, the New York City Council has steadily increased investment in a process called “Participatory Budgeting,” wherein community members gain a role in deciding how to spend part of a public budget. Through an eight-month process, neighbors come together and work with the government to propose, debate and ultimately vote on budget decisions that affect their lives. Directed by: Jay Arthur Sterrenberg.
  • “Voting Matters”: More than 50 years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most extensive pieces of civil rights legislation, people of color across the United States are still engaged in a battle to protect their right to vote. “Voting Matters” follows one dynamic woman working tirelessly on the ground and in the courts to ensure that they are not denied this right. Directed by: Dawn Porter.

Active Shooters
Gun Debate Takes Its Next Step, moderated by Kasie Hunt

  • “G Is for Gun”: Since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, schools in at least 13 states have started arming teachers as a security measure. How did this happen, and what does it mean for American education? “G is for Gun” follows the story of teachers being trained to carry firearms, and a small city in western Ohio divided by bringing arms into its schools. Directed by: Kate Way, Julie Akeret.
  • “Guns Found Here”: When there’s a gun crime in America, there’s only one place to go to trace the gun back to its owner: Martinsburg, West Virginia. That’s where the ATF’s National Tracing Center handles roughly 8,000 active traces per day — all while inside a government-mandated technology time capsule that makes searching a database of gun owners impossible. With more gun stores in the U.S.A. than McDonald’s, Starbucks and supermarkets combined, there’s a lot of paperwork to manually sort through. It’s truly a sight to behold. Directed by: David Freid.
  • “No Sanctuary”: Explores human nature and behavior through the personal lens of those who have been affected by America’s indifference to gun violence. Directed by: Nathan Knox.

Do We Belong?
Religion and Xenophobia, moderated by Kristen Welker

  • “Do We Belong?”: An Indian immigrant in Kansas is shot and killed in a senseless hate crime, leaving his wife to grapple with the question of whether America is truly her home. Directed by: Sofian Khan.
  • “Graven Image”: Using archival footage, director Sierra Pettengill explores the history of Georgia’s Confederate Memorial Carving, the largest Confederate monument in the United States, and the memorial’s close ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Directed by: Sierra Pettengill.
  • “The Hidden Vote”: In America’s largest Arab-American population in Dearborn, Michigan, an unprecedented number of Arab-Americans are running for city council during Trump’s first year in office. Nada is a 26-year-old Palestinian-American liberal, and Mike is a 23-year-old Lebanese-American conservative and Trump supporter. Both are Muslim, and for very different reasons, both were inspired to enter into politics after Trump’s presidential win. We follow Mike and Nada’s campaigns as they work their way toward Election Day, and explore how their life experiences have shaped their political beliefs. Directed by: Adithya Sambamurthy, Ben Rekhi.
  • “Loyalty: Stories”: A national storytelling project about American Muslim veterans that explores themes of citizenship, identity and faith in the post-9/11 era. Through ten documentary-style short films, “Loyalty: Stories,” which is making its world premiere, profiles a diverse group of men and women — immigrants, converts and American-born Muslims who gave an oath to protect the United States and uphold the Constitution. Directed by: David Washburn.

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Coming to America, moderated by Jacob Soboroff

  • “Out of Many, One”: A Netflix original documentary short, “Out of Many, One,” which is making its world premiere, is a film about how one museum is using art, artifacts and historical documents to help green-card holders prepare for the Naturalization Test and, in turn, become U.S. citizens. Directed by: Emmy Award winners John Hoffman and Nanfu Wang.
  • “Deporting Myself”: “Deporting Myself” is a documentary about Zsuzsanna, an undocumented New York housekeeper who has been living and working in the U.S illegally for almost 20 years. Ever since the election of President Trump, who’s made a promise to the American people to crack down and deport undocumented immigrants, Zsuzsanna has been living in fear. The constant worry of eventually being found out, captured and deported by ICE is one of the many reasons she decides to leave on her own terms. This film highlights Zsuzsanna’s final 72 hours in a place she once called home. Directed by: Julia Neumann.
  • “Libre”: A private company purports to help people held in immigration custody secure bail. In exchange for this service, its clients are forced to wear ankle monitors until their debts are paid. See how two New Yorkers’ daily lives are affected by this practice. Directed by: Anna Barsan.

Making it Work
Poverty and Rebuilding, moderated by Harry Smith

  • “Pa’Lante”: This film tells the brave personal stories of local Puerto Ricans five months after they were impacted by hurricanes Irma and Maria, and showcases an Apprentice Program led by volunteers who teach carpentry to locals while rebuilding roofs on the island. Directed by: Ramón Rodríguez.
  • “Insecure”: An undocumented family struggling to make ends meet takes matters into their own hands in order to create their own American Dream. World premiere. Directed by: Cayman Grant.
  • “The Children of Central City”: “The Children of Central City” provides an in-depth look into the players, coaches and families surrounding the A.L. Davis Park Panthers youth football program in one of New Orleans’ most crime-riddled neighborhoods. The film showcases how attempts to treat the children’s post-traumatic stress are repeatedly thwarted by state budget cuts to mental healthcare. Directed by: Mark Lorando, Emma Scott.

More to follow!

NBC NEWS’ 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 across the board for the 2017-2018 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 1947: The Meet the Press Podcast. It’s the longest-running show in television history, expanding its brand to include a political 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.

AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE

The American Film Institute was established by presidential proclamation in the White House Rose Garden, and launched its national mandate on June 5, 1967 — to preserve the heritage of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI’s founding Trustees included Chairman Gregory Peck, Vice Chairman Sidney Poitier, Francis Ford Coppola, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Jack Valenti and George Stevens, Jr., as Director. Visit AFI.com and connect with AFI on Twitter.com/AmericanFilm, Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, YouTube.com/AFI and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.

(Source: Press release provided by NBCUniversal)

AFI DOCS 2018 IS OPEN! Personal Statement sets the tone.

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 2018 edition of the American Film Institute’s AFI DOCS is open. AFI President and Chief Executive Officer, Bob Gazzale kicked off the festival with eloquent opening remarks reminding a receptive audience of the action by former United States President Lyndon Johnson took 50 years ago to create the American Film Institute and its mission “to preserve the heritage of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers.”

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Enoch Jemmott, one of the lead subjects of the AFI DOCS 2018 Opening Night Film, Personal Statement, strikes a pose on the red carpet inside the Newseum, in Washington, D.C., June 13, 2018 (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

Personal Statement, the 2018 AFI DOCS Opening Night Film, directed and produced by Julianne Dressner, and co-directed by Edwin Martinez, was also making its world premiere. The cast and crew were out in full force on the red carpet before the film’s screening.

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Personal Statement Producer, Beth Levinson (far right), marshals Personal Statement actors at the 2018 American Film Institute’s AFI DOCS for press photos at the Newseum, in Washington, D.C., on June 13, 2018. Dressner’s film about three Brooklyn high school seniors who took on the role of college guidance counselors for their under-served classmates was making its world premiere at the Newseum’s Annenberg Theatre. (Photo credit; Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

 

The film follows three Brooklyn, New York, high school seniors, Enoch, Christine, and Karoline, as they prepare themselves for college and try to inspire and encourage their classmates to make the jump with them.

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Brooklyn, New York, high school senior, Christine, addresses her classmates on the importance of vocalizing their wants and needs followed up by taking positive actions as a way to get their needs met. (Photo courtesy of Reify Films)

The film opened with a nice out-of-focus frame of a night-time city-scape slowly coming into focus as a textual overlay informs the viewer of the setting. A transition reveals a young black male doing homework with his niece. Another transition reveals a young bi-racial female in dialogue with a young Hispanic female as she explains some of the challenges she is facing. A third transition reveals an Hispanic mother in the kitchen followed quickly by another transition revealing Christina, one of the film’s protagonist. An upbeat non-diagetic score shows the three characters on their way to school meeting. The meeting turns out to be a training so the three protagonists can work as school guidance counselors.

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Enoch Jemmott, right, a Brooklyn, New York, high school senior, prods his friend and classmate as the pair prepare to finalize thier respective college admission processes. (Photo courtesy of Julianne Dressner – Reify Films)

This forms the crux of Dressner’s film. Shot in a direct cinema style interspersed with fragments of cinema verite, Personal Statement uncovers societal issues as it reveals the struggles minority students are facing as they attempt to, not only go to college, but also navigate what will be their collegiate experience.

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Karoline, who has undergone bullying for her dress and sexual orientation, shows her counselor a copy of her personal statement for her college application to Smith College, an all-female institution. (Photo courtesy of Reify Films)

Karoline, an LGBTQ student, wants a place where she can meet people who will accept her for who she is. Enoch, a standout high school football anxious to become his own person, lives with his sister. Christina lives at home with a strong-willed mother, who feels Christina needs to consider the financial undertaking in attending college. All three are passionate about going to college and they want their peers to undertake the collegiate journey as well. At the heart of the narrative is the personal statement that explains why each student wants to go their respective schools.

Karoline is a colorful character who had twenty-three absences in her first year of high school has progressed to where she has perfect attendance in her senior year. Enoch faces obstacles that include a mother who lives in a homeless shelter and a lower than desired grade-point-average from the college of his choice, Cortland. Christina, whose mother financed her older brother’s college education, has reservations in supporting Christina’s college choice. Christina’s brother has been out of work for the last four years and her mother has had her work hours reduced.

While all three students wind up attending college, difficult choices are made along the way and challenging issues are revealed surrounding their pursuit of higher education.

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Personal Statement Director and Producer, Julianne Messner (second from left) applauds as her team is introduced to the audience during a panel discussion following the screening of her film at the Annenberg Theatre inside the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on June 13, 2018. To Messner’s left is Co-Director Edwin Martinez and actors Karoline, Christine and Enoch.  (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

A panel discussion immediately followed the film’s screening with Dressner, Martinez and the film’s three actors. To close out the evening a Private Gala celebrated the conscience-altering work.

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The Opening Night Gala setting following the 2018 AFI DOCS Opening Night Film, Personal Statement. (Photo credit: Gediyon Kifle)

Personal Statement will have its U.S. broadcast premiere on public television’s WORLD Channel and PBS on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 at 8:00 pm. This is a film that needs to be seen and the issues it raises need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Highly recommended.

*Featured photo: Bob Gazzale, President and CEO of the American Film Institute (Photo credit: Tom Kochel)

AFI DOCS

 

Julia Roberts to Present George Clooney with AFI Life Achievement Award

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Julia Roberts will present the nation’s highest honor for a career in film, the AFI Life Achievement Award, to her longtime friend and colleague George Clooney at the 46th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute honoring the actor, director, writer and producer. The event will take place Thursday, June 7, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA.

Roberts has frequently collaborated with George Clooney, sharing the screen with him on the films OCEAN’S ELEVEN (2001), OCEAN’S TWELVE (2004) and MONEY MONSTER (2016). Additionally, she starred in his directorial debut, CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND (2002) and in AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY which Clooney produced.

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Actor George Clooney, pictured above, will receive the 46th AFI LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD on Thursday, June 7, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA. (Photo credit: AFI.com)

TNT will premiere the hour-and-a-half special, THE 46TH AFI LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: A TRIBUTE TO GEORGE CLOONEY on Thursday, June 21, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, followed by an encore at 11:30 p.m. ET/PT. Sister network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will also air the special in September 2018 during a night of programming dedicated to Clooney’s work.

 

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(Source: AFI.com)

 

AFI DOCS 2018 ANNOUNCES OPENING AND CLOSING NIGHT FILMS

Posted by Larry Gleeson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — MAY 4, 2018, WASHINGTON, DC — 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, the American Film Institute’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 full slate will be announced in the coming weeks. AFI DOCS runs June 13–17, 2018, in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, MD.

“We are at a cultural crossroads where identity, race and personal agency are redefining what it is to be American in 2018,” said Michael Lumpkin, Director, AFI Festivals. “With PERSONAL STATEMENT, UNITED SKATES and this year’s Centerpiece and Special Screenings, AFI DOCS will continue its legacy of introducing new perspectives to audiences, while challenging longstanding conventions.”

AT&T’s ongoing support as Presenting Sponsor enables AFI DOCS to connect audiences, policymakers and storytellers in the heart of our national government.

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, lacking support services at school, band together to help each other get into college.

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.

OPENING NIGHT SCREENING

PERSONAL STATEMENT: DIRS Juliane Dressner and Edwin Martinez. USA. Karoline, Enoch and Christine are Brooklyn high school seniors who just want to go to college, but lack the resources most American teens take for granted, including guidance counselors. Refusing to give up, they learn to counsel each other, and carry their classmates with them as they pursue their dreams.

CLOSING NIGHT SCREENING

UNITED SKATES: DIRS Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown. USA. 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.

CENTERPIECE SCREENING

ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASAS JOURNEY TO TOMORROW: DIR Rory Kennedy. USA. 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.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

THE COLD BLUE: DIR Erik Nelson. USA. 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: DIR Dieudo Hamadi. Democratic Republic of the Congo. 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!: DIRS Sam Pollard and Melissa Haizlip. USA. 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.

WITKIN & WITKIN: DIR Trisha Ziff. Mexico. 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.

Tickets to AFI DOCS, including Opening Night and Closing Night screenings, will be available early to AFI members exclusively beginning May 11, and to the public on May 14. Passes for AFI DOCS 2018 are now on sale at AFI.com/afidocs. More information about AFI DOCS screenings and other special events will be announced in the coming weeks.

AFI DOCS

About AFI DOCS
AFI DOCS is the American Film Institute’s annual documentary festival 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, D A Pennebaker, Agnès Varda and Frederick Wiseman. Now in its 16th year, the festival will be held June 13-17, 2018, at distinguished Washington, DC, venues, the Landmark E Street Cinema and the historic AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD. Visit AFI.com/AFIDOCS and connect on twitter.com/AFIDOCS, facebook.com/AFIDOCS, youtube.com/AFI and instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.

About the American Film Institute
The American Film Institute was established by presidential proclamation in the White House Rose Garden, and launched its national mandate on June 5, 1967 — to preserve the heritage of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI‘s founding Trustees included Chairman Gregory Peck, Vice Chairman Sidney Poitier, Francis Ford Coppola, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Jack Valenti and George Stevens, Jr., as Director.

About AT&T
AT&T is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor of the 2018 AFI DOCS. We help people connect in ways that improve lives – every day. Through DIRECTV, DIRECTV NOW and AT&T U-verse, we deliver the kind of entertainment people love to talk about. And you can watch almost anytime, anywhere. For 10 years, we’ve supported AFI‘s commitment to honor the heritage of film and the artists who make them. And through a variety of programs, we’re focused on giving amateur and underrepresented filmmakers the support they need to succeed.

(Source: Press release courtesy of AFI DOCS Press Office)