Category Archives: #AFIDOCS


Posted by Larry Gleeson




Audience Award for Best Feature Goes to CHASING THE MOON

Audience Award for Best Short Goes to ST. LOUIS SUPERMAN

Short Film Grand Jury Prize Goes to IN THE ABSENCE

Lilly Ledbetter, Bryan Stevenson, Freida Lee Mock, Eric Holder and More

Celebrate Documentary Film in the Nation’s Capital

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AFI DOCS festival attendees at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Cinema’s Legacy panel and reception (Credit: Gediyon Kifle).
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Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative at AFI DOCS Opening Night (Credit: Gediyon Kifle).
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Left to right; Mike Aguilar, Freida Lee Mock, AFI Festivals’ Michael Lumpkin, Lilly Ledbetter, and Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday attend the Guggenheim Symposium at AFI DOCS 2019 (Credit: Gediyon Kifle).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — JUNE 25, 2019, WASHINGTON, DC The American Film Institute has announced the AFI DOCS 2019 Award Winners, concluding the five-day festival supported by Presenting Sponsor AT&T in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, MD.  The festival’s Audience Award for Best Feature went to CHASING THE MOON, directed by Robert Stone.  The Audience Award for Best Short went to ST. LOUIS SUPERMAN, directed by Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan. 

This year’s competitive Short Films slate included a voting jury comprised of film producer Dolly Turner, documentary filmmaker Gabriella Garcia-Pardo and The Washington Post’s pop culture writer Elahe Izadi.  The Grand Jury Prize for Short Films went to IN THE ABSENCE, directed by Yi Seung-Jun.  The jury said of IN THE ABSENCE: “…a sweeping account that stuns. Through an exhaustive sourcing of content, the filmmaker precisely and chillingly weaves together a haunting tapestry that calls into question the trust we place in authority.”

The jury also awarded an honorable mention to A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA, directed by Sophia Nahli Allison, whom the jury called “an emerging artist.”  The jury described the film as “[a] relevant and intimate portrait depicting the trauma that stems from America’s insidious racism and how that lingers beyond a single violent moment.”  An honorable mention also went to SCENES FROM A DRY CITY, “an eerily crafted dystopian snapshot that both underscores the privilege of water and the United Nations’ recent exhortation for ‘rapid and unprecedented action’ to mitigate climate change,” directed by Francois Verster and Simon Wood.

With 72 films from 17 countries, the 17th edition of AFI DOCS presented stories taking place as close as 17 blocks from the capital and as far as the moon, with subjects varying from a family-run ambulance service in Mexico to the surrogate pregnancy boom in Idaho to reforms needed in the criminal justice system.  Among the attendees were filmmakers and notables including former Attorney General Eric Holder, Missouri State Representative Bruce Franks, Jr., National Council members Anthony R. Jimenez and Stephanie Hunt, the Equal Justice Initiative’s Bryan Stevenson, Lilly Lynn Ledbetter, Grace Guggenheim, Thomas Allen Harris, Liz Garbus, Morgan Neville, Freida Lee Mock, Terry Sanders, Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, Martha Shane and Irene Taylor Brodsky.

This year’s festival included a number of panels featuring engaging discussions between filmmakers, film subjects and audience members — with conversation and examination of issues led by some of the nation’s top journalists:  NBC News’ Morgan Radford;” NBC News’ “Meet the Press” moderator and NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd; NBC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Hallie Jackson; Roll Call editor Jason Dick; and The Washington Post’s chief film critic Ann Hornaday, senior correspondent Kevin Sullivan, national correspondent Wesley Lowery, media reporter Paul Farhi, national security reporter Greg Miller, senior video editor Thomas LeGro, corporate accountability reporter Douglas MacMillan, entertainment reporter Emily Yahr and feature reporter Roxanne Roberts.

The AFI DOCS Forum explored unique topics with keynote presentations, conversations, panel discussions, micro-meetings and a day-long convening of local film communities.  Programming for the Forum was made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, NBC News’ “Meet the Press” and The Washington Post.

The fifth edition of the AFI DOCS Impact Lab provided participating filmmakers with professional development in preparation for presenting their causes to key audiences to advance their messages and included meetings with advocates and industry and policy leaders.


Five films with AFI Conservatory alumni credits were included in this year’s festival: THE AMAZING JOHNATHAN DOCUMENTARY (Director of Photography Dan Adlerstein); DAVID CROSBY: REMEMBER MY NAME (Director of Photography Edd Lukas); MOONLIGHT SONATA: DEAFNESS IN THREE MOVEMENTS (Executive Producer Sara Bernstein); RUTH — JUSTICE GINSBURG IN HER OWN WORDS (Screenwriter/Editor Mike Aguilar); and TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM (Director Timothy Greenfield Sanders).




DIR: Robert Stone.  50 years after Neil Armstrong’s “one small step,” CHASING THE MOON chronicles America’s audacious and difficult race to the moon. Using exclusively archival footage — with much never before seen in public — this exceptional series re-contextualizes the social and historical importance of the Space Age and the sheer wonder of the moon landing itself. After the Soviets launched their Sputnik satellite, what was once thought as science fiction became reality. Fascinating stories told by those involved reveal how America’s space race fused scientific innovation, political drama and media spectacle into one profound achievement.



DIRS: Smriti Mundhra, Sami Khan.  Bruce Franks, Jr., is a 33-year-old battle rapper, Ferguson activist and state representative from St. Louis who has overcome unspeakable loss to become one of the most exciting and unapologetic young leaders in the country today.



DIR: Yi Seung-Jun.  When the passenger ferry MV Sewol sank off the coast of South Korea in 2014, more than 300 people lost their lives, most of them schoolchildren. Years later, the victims’ families and survivors are still demanding justice from national authorities.

Honorable Mention: A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA

DIR: Sophia Nahli Allison.  Latasha Harlins was 15-years-old when she was killed by Soon Ja Du at Empire Liquor in South Central Los Angeles on March 16, 1991. This dreamlike, hybrid documentary reimagines a more nuanced narrative of Latasha’s life.

Honorable Mention: SCENES FROM A DRY CITY

DIR: Francois Verster and Simon Wood.  In South Africa, an impending water crisis grips an entire nation.

AT&T returns for its sixth year as the Presenting Sponsor of AFI DOCS.  The Official Sponsor for the 2019 festival is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  Primary Media sponsors include Meet the Press with Chuck Todd and the Washington PostScreen Sponsors are Audi, HBO, Netflix and Showtime Documentary Films.  Official Media Sponsors include Here TV, Variety and WHUT-TV.  CuriosityStream; the DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment; 202Creates; IMDbPro; and Maryland Film Office returned this year as Major Sponsors, joined by the National Endowment for the Arts and Participant Media.  The Contributing Sponsors are Filmmaker Magazine International Documentary Association.  This year’s Supporting Sponsors are Downtown Silver Spring, the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce, and Insight Property Group.  Cultural and Community Sponsors are DC Filmmakers, Docs in Progress, the Embassy of Australia, the Mexican Cultural Institute, Producers Guild of America, TIVA-DC, The Video Consortium and Women in Film & Video.  Support from individual underwriters was provided by Nancy Blachman, Grace Guggenheim, Stephanie and Hunter Hunt, John and Rachel King, Bryan O’Keefe and Alexandra and Sean Parker.


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 and Frederick Wiseman.  Now in its 17th year, the festival took place June 19-23, 2019, in landmark Washington, DC, venues, Landmark Theatres E Street Cinema and at the historic AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD.  Visit and connect on,, and

About the American Film Institute

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 AT&T

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is a diversified, global leader in telecommunications, media and entertainment, and technology. It executes in the market under four operating units. WarnerMedia’s HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. divisions are world leaders in creating premium content, operate one of the world’s largest TV and film studios, and own a world-class library of entertainment. AT&T Communications provides more than 100 million U.S. consumers with entertainment and communications experiences across TV, mobile and broadband services. Plus, it serves nearly 3 million business customers with high-speed, highly secure connectivity and smart solutions. AT&T Latin America provides pay-TV services across 11 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean, and is the fastest growing wireless provider in Mexico, serving consumers and businesses. Xandr provides marketers with innovative and relevant advertising solutions for consumers around premium video content and digital advertising through its AppNexus platform.

AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc. Additional information is available at © 2019 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T, the Globe logo and other marks are trademarks and service marks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All other marks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

AT&T Communications is part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T). Learn more at

About CPB
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @CPBmedia, Facebook 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 Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership is an ongoing initiative that aims to highlight organizations working vigilantly to promote press freedom and raise awareness of the rights of journalists worldwide. Learn more at

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 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, recently expanding its brand to include a political short-documentary film festival in collaboration with the American Film Institute. Chuck Todd is the political director of NBC News and the moderator of Meet the Press; John Reiss is the executive producer.


(Press release provided by AFI DOCS PR)



Posted by Larry Gleeson

Directors Jake Lefferman and Emily Taguchi discuss their powerful new documentary, AFTER PARKLAND, at a post-screening Q&A. AFTER PARKLAND probes the collateral damage and fallout from the the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

AFTER PARKLAND a film about victims, but rather, a heartfelt portrayal of people using their grief and anger as the fuel to move forward, heal themselves and, for some, fight to change the world. The 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School left a community in shock, searching for the balance between wanting to be left alone, and needing the world to pay attention and take action. These brave Floridians start movements, lobby their politicians, play basketball and search for normalcy in the wake of extreme tragedy. The close relationships built between filmmakers and survivors allow for an intimate view of how families and friends navigate their new realities — both in the blaring limelight as well as the soft light of home. –Eric Moore

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Interview: MADE IN BOISE Director Beth Aala #AFIDOCS2019

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Screening tonight, MADE IN BOISE tells the story of a community of women risking their own health for humanity’s sake and the emotional complications that come with the journey of surrogacy.

Four women find purpose carrying babies for strangers in the conservative heartland of Boise, Idaho — the unregulated and unofficial “surrogacy capital” of the United States. As the surrogacy industry booms globally, MADE IN BOISE tells the story of a community of women risking their own health for humanity’s sake and the emotional complications that come with the journey of surrogacy. AFI spoke with director Beth Aala about her new film.

MADE IN BOISE plays as part of the Spectrum program at AFI DOCS at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD on Sunday, June 23. Buy tickets to the screening here.

AFI: What led you to pursue documentary filmmaking?

I’ve always loved movies as a kid — musicals, classics, big blockbuster hits. When I moved to New York after college, I was awed by the incredibly diverse communities and interesting backgrounds of all the people around me. It was then that I realized that real stories are what truly captivate me.

AFI: How did you become interested in this story? What inspired you to tell it?  

My best friend from college was having fertility issues, and, after five failed IVF attempts and three painful miscarriages, she asked if I would carry her child for her. Paid surrogacy is illegal in New York, and she couldn’t pay someone to do it. Instead, she had to turn to her family and friends, and she asked me. Thankfully, she eventually got pregnant and successfully carried, so that I didn’t have to do it. But that was my first real encounter with surrogacy, when I witnessed such a painful period around infertility — of someone very close to me.

AFI: How did you find and connect with the subjects in MADE IN BOISE? 

A childhood friend is a labor and delivery nurse at Boise’s local hospital, St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center. She shared how common it was for the staff to do surrogacy, so I was immediately fascinated. When I visited Boise for the first time, I really got a sense that there was in fact a whole community around the practice, and I began filming on the spot.

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AFI: What kinds of obstacles did you face while making the film? 

Surrogacy is very misunderstood and still very much stigmatized. Those who do know about surrogacy might presume the women are being exploitive or have presumptions of why a person chose this path. There were frustrating moments trying to get people to understand that it’s almost always a last resort for people who want to have children and that it’s incredibly complex.

AFI: What do you want audiences to walk away with after watching the film? 

Surrogacy is not what many people think it is, and it’s an incredibly emotional and logistically complicated process.

AFI: Why do you think documentary films are important today? 

Documentaries can transport you into a world you otherwise wouldn’t know anything about. Most people who have seen this film (or early versions of it) always tell me how surprised or moved they were or that they had no idea this was happening in our country, particularly in Boise. I too lacked the knowledge about it when I started making the film. So documentaries can build empathy in a way that’s really powerful and effective because you are immersed in someone’s life. For a short amount of time you can walk in their shoes — or at least walk beside them and experience intimately what they are going through.

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(Sourced from blog)

WATCH: Bryan Stevenson on TRUE JUSTICE #AFIDOCS2019

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative at the world premiere of HBO’s TRUE JUSTICE: BRYAN STEVENSON’S FIGHT FOR EQUALITY.

The subject of the world-premiere 2019 AFI DOCS Opening Night Film talks about taking more courageous approaches to telling stories of racial injustice in this thought-provoking Q&A clip.Stevenson talks about taking more courageous approaches to telling stories of racial injustice in this thought-provoking Q&A clip from AFI DOCS 2019.

As a lawyer defending the rights of condemned prisoners on death row, Bryan Stevenson has argued many cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Each time, he takes a moment to read the words etched on the building: “Equal Justice Under Law.” Stevenson says, “I have to believe that, to make sense out of what I do.”

Fighting for equal justice within a system that has allowed slavery, lynching, segregation, and, now, mass incarceration, is Stevenson’s life work. He founded the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama to provide legal services for the poor and is the driving force behind a new national lynching memorial. TRUE JUSTICE makes the case that Stevenson is among the rarest of storytellers, one whose words are every bit as moving as what’s written on the Supreme Court building. –Ken Jacobson

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AUTONOMY – Screening Tonight! #AFIDOCS2019

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Screening tonight at 6 p.m., AUTONOMY explores the history of automated cars and the impact this technology will have on our society. As the value of our time has changed, it is unavoidable that automation affects the economics of our everyday life.

Executive-produced by Malcolm Gladwell, AUTONOMY asks questions about who will benefit most from this technology, and about the liability and safety concerns of self-driving cars. Futurist thinkers, engineers and researchers share stories of innovation and how new design will shape our experience of traveling by car. By reflecting on the automotive industry’s past, AUTONOMY prompts an important discussion of how Silicon Valley approaches this issue and the policies we should consider during this mobility revolution. –Sarah Harris

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SEA OF SHADOWS – Screening and Nat Geo Reception

Posted by Larry Gleeson

SPECIAL SCREENING – National Geographic Grosvenor Auditorium

SEA OF SHADOWS – Screened today at 2 p.m. Followed by a National Geographic reception. This environmental thriller was every bit as gripping and nail-biting as any pulp novel but with real world consequences for the Sea of Cortez. Trapped in nets used to catch the totoaba — a large fish whose bladders are highly prized in China for their supposed anti-aging properties — the vaquita gets tossed aside as collateral damage. While Mexican drug cartels seek to capitalize on this lucrative, illegal market, the Mexican government, conservationists and a famous TV reporter fight to save the vaquita. But with fewer than 10 vaquita left in the world, time is running out. Winner of the Audience Award in the Sundance World Cinema Documentary Competition. –Ken Jacobson


Country: Austria

Year: 2019

Director: Richard Ladkani

Producers: Walter Köhler, Wolfgang Knöpfler

Executive Producers: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson, Phillip Watson, Scott Z. Burns

Director of Photography: Richard Ladkani

Editors: Georg Fischer, Verena Schönauer

Music: H. Scott Salinas

Running Time (minutes): 105

Language: English, Spanish

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INTERVIEW: AFI DOCS 2019 Guggenheim Symposium Honoree Freida Lee Mock

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Each year, the AFI DOCS Charles Guggenheim Symposium honors a master of documentary film. This year AFI recognizes the exceptional career of filmmaker Freida Lee Mock as the 2019 Guggenheim honoree.

Demonstrating a remarkable range of subject matter, Freida Lee Mock has, for more than three decades, been one of America’s greatest cinematic biographers. From MAYA LIN: A STRONG CLEAR VISION (1994) and NEVER GIVE UP: THE 20TH CENTURY ODYSSEY OF HERBERT ZIPPER (1995) to WRESTLING WITH ANGELS: PLAYWRIGHT TONY KUSHNER (2006) and ANITA: SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER (2013), Mock has shown the uncanny ability to take intimate biographical detail and build larger-than-life narratives that reflect and illuminate the broader societal picture. For her extraordinary work, Mock received the 1995 Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature and five total nominations; and a primetime Emmy® Award win from two nominations.

Screen Shot 2019-06-22 at 2.47.59 PMIn her new film RUTH – JUSTICE GINSBURG IN HER OWN WORDS, Mock illuminates an intimate profile of Ginsburg with carefully culled archival footage and interviews, covering the full breadth of Ginsburg’s life, views and career.

The 2019 Guggenheim Symposium will pay tribute to this outstanding filmmaker with an onstage interview discussion of her career, film clips and a sneak preview of her fascinating new portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, on Saturday, June 22.

AFI spoke with her about her career and new film, below.




AFI: Throughout your films, you take on these historical figures. What draws you to them and to Ruth Bader Ginsburg specifically?

FLM: In general, all have been living but they are steeped in history and have a major place in the historical-political aspect in the community, country and the world. They have a historical significance, whether it’s Anita Hill or Maya Lin, somehow the work that they’re drawn to lends itself to a major impact on sociopolitical aspects of our country and our life, and that’s what draws me to these characters and these people.

Anita Hill reluctantly talking about sexual harassment and putting that issue on the national consciousness; or Maya Lin dealing with issues of public art or censorship, a public sculpture honoring the dead. In the case of Justice Ginsburg, some executive producers asked if I would do a film about her. I knew little about the details, such as decades of the pioneering work on gender discrimination, advanced issues of equality for women and men.

AFI: How much research and preparation did you do before going into crafting a portrait of the Justice?

FLM: Every step along the way is very important. I hear the phrase, you “save the film in the editing room.” For me, I can’t do that. If you do the proper research and development in the first phase, I do a lot of research in terms of primary sources and secondary sources. We try to look at all the visuals, before planning what I call “production phase,” which is what needs to be filmed vs. what already existed. If the visual material doesn’t exist already, then I will film it or express it differently. For this film, we decided to use animation and illustration to deal with how to dramatize the court cases.

AFI: Was this your first time working in animation?

FLM: I had a psychology project years ago and I used animation. This was a great way to save myself visually — if I can’t figure it out visually, I thought, I’ll just illustrate it.

AFI: How much archival footage were you dealing with and how did you organize the material?

FLM: We had hundreds of hours of stock footage. The film SENNA [by Asif Kapadia], just by comparison, had 5,000 hours. [For my Ginsburg film], we had to sit days and weeks and months and look at all this footage. When she was nominated for Supreme Court, that’s most of the footage you begin to find. The challenge was finding material earlier than 1993, or anything when she’s not a Justice. How do you fill in the visuals when she’s a professor? Teaching was a critical stepping stone, as was volunteering for the ACLU in the ’70s and taking on these gender discrimination cases. Those stepping stones are really important. Is there any visual material? No, of course. That’s when we decided to take an animation approach.

AFI: What most surprised you about Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

FLM: I had no idea she had such a singular vision about gender. I had no idea that she was really the pioneer in the contemporary way we approach gender discrimination, equality and justice. A lot of it comes from her childhood, her jewish upbringing, being raised during WWII [and encountering] overt discrimination and violence toward Jews. So that was really fascinating to understand why she took this path.

The paths she took were a reaction to the outside world. She rose to the occasion, not being an outright feminist, but seeing that these issues were core to her own experience. The cases all deal with issues of injustice.


Posted by Larry Gleeson

Highlights of this Saturday at AFI DOCS include tonight’s Charles Guggenheim Symposium with Oscar®-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock, presenting her new film RUTH – JUSTICE GINSBURG IN HER OWN WORDS. Also catch the world premiere of the Apollo landing documentary CHASING THE MOON; the music doc DAVID CROSBY: REMEMBER MY NAME; moving Australia-set portrait IN MY BLOOD IT RUNS; eco-thriller SEA OF SHADOWS; and more!

Get Tickets Here

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INTERVIEW: ERNIE & JOE With Director Jenifer McShane

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Screening tonight at 8:30 at the Landmark E Street, the film chronicles two unconventional police officers who are part of the San Antonio PD’s Mental Health Unit, founded to confront the fact that one in four people killed by police is mentally ill.

Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro are not typical police officers. Dressed in polo shirts and slacks, guns out of view, the two approach each emergency call with the intent of defusing situations without force and helping those in need. They are part of the San Antonio Police Department’s Mental Health Unit, founded to confront the fact that one in four people killed by police is mentally ill. A rare 360-degree portrait of police officers, ERNIE & JOE gives no easy answers but reveals a path forward that could lead to transformative change nationwide. AFI spoke with director Jenifer McShane about her new work.

ERNIE & JOE plays as part of the Truth & Justice Program at AFI DOCS at the Landmark E Street Cinema in Washington DC on Friday, June 21 and at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD on Saturday, June 22. Buy tickets to the screening here.

AFI:  What led you to pursue documentary filmmaking?

I love telling stories that might make a difference.

AFI:  How did you become involved and what led you to start telling this story?

While researching and making my last documentary, MOTHERS OF BEDFORD, I became acutely aware of the number of mentally ill people sitting behind bars in this country. The work being done by Ernie, Joe and their peers addressed issues I care about and dovetails with my work making MOTHERS OF BEDFORD.

AFI: How did you find and connect with Ernie and Joe to be the subjects of your film?

An article written by a friend about the mental health work being done in San Antonio sparked my initial interest. This prompted me to go out and spend time with the mental health unit without a camera. I realized fairly quickly that Ernie and Joe would be excellent characters to help tell this complicated story.

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AFI: What was a particular struggle you faced while making your film?

Much of the film takes place inside a police car. My fear was that so much time in the car would be claustrophobic for the viewer, but it actually presented an opportunity to look at the bond that develops when you spend countless hours together in stressful situations.

AFI: What do you want audiences to take away from seeing your film?

On the face of it, this film is about mental health and policing, but I also believe that at its core it is about human connection. I would like the film to inspire people to look at their own communities and see how they can strengthen the bonds of human connection and improve our response to those in crisis.

AFI:  Why is Washington, DC a crucial location to screen ERNIE & JOE?

DC is the policy capital of the world. I hope to catch the attention of those who might affect change.

AFI: Why are documentary films so important today?

Documentary films are vital. They provide a unique lens for learning and broadening our experience. I particularly appreciate when we can do this in unexpected ways. We are becoming a more and more polarized society, and documentaries can take an audience on meaningful journeys that can illuminate topics and expand our thinking and sometimes our hearts.

Buy tickets to ERNIE & JOE here.

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(Sourced from: blog)


Day Three at AFI DOCS

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Day Three at AFI DOCS features more than 20 can’t-miss screenings, including SEARCHING EVA, a powerful profile of a 21st-century young woman; moving LGBTQ doc GAY CHORUS DEEP SOUTH; the provocative A WOMAN’S WORK: THE NFL’S CHEERLEADER PROBLEM; the stirring police portrait ERNIE & JOE; and much more. See you at the movies!

Get Tickets Here

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