Category Archives: AFIDocs


How do you manage weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? It’s the great dilemma the world has faced since the dawn of the nuclear age. From the director of the groundbreaking film Food, Inc., and the executive producer of the Oscar-nominated film Last Days in Vietnam, comes Command and Control, the long-hidden story of a deadly accident at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas in 1980. The chilling documentary features the minute-by-minute accounts of Air Force personnel, weapon designers, and first responders who were on the scene that night, and recounts the feverish efforts to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States. (

Director Robert Kenner ratchets up the tension in a film that is both a thrilling disaster movie and a probing documentary about the threat posed by aging nuclear warheads in our midst. The action centers on a true account of a nuclear accident in 1980 and the workers who raced to repair a damaged missile before it exploded. Suspenseful and thought-provoking, COMMAND AND CONTROL is a compelling cautionary tale. — Mark Page


COMMAND AND CONTROL is screening at AFI DOCS on Saturday, June 25th, 2016 at 3:00 P.M. at Landmark 1. For more details visit: Command and Control





“Doc & Darryl” World Premiere

One of three documentary world premiere’s at the 2016 AFI DOCS, Doc & Darryl, tells the story of the men behind the headlines of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets phenomenons Dwight “Doc” Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. The film is directed by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio and will be screened on Sunday, June 25th, 2016, at 5:15 P.M., at the Landmark 1 in downtown Washington, D.C.  Get tickets here: Doc & Darryl




Doc & Darryl Film Summary

When they were good, they were the biggest stars on a team that captured New York City and the 1986 World Series. But when they were bad, Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry broke the hearts of Mets fans. “They were going to be our guys for years,” laments Jon Stewart in this evocative yet searing 30 for 30 documentary directed by Judd Apatow (“Trainwreck”) and Michael Bonfiglio (“You Don’t Know Bo”). Reunited at a diner in Queens, the pitcher and the power hitter look back on the glory days of the mid-’80s and the harrowing nights that turned them from surefire Hall of Famers into prisoners of their own addictions. Listening to Doc talk about missing the parade down the Canyon of Heroes, or Darryl counsel others at his ministry, you can only wish that these two very different men had not followed the same destructive path.

Director’s Take

The stories of Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden seem inextricably linked, whether the lives of these two very different men are actually intertwined or not. Both phenoms drafted by the Mets straight out of high school, their parallel meteoric rises in early-1980s New York and the demons that plagued them turned these two superstars and franchise saviors into tabloid fodder and punchlines. We were interested in understanding the men behind the headlines, and what drove them to their spectacular highs and lows. We hope that this film humanizes Doc and Darryl, and in doing so sheds light on issues that we can all relate to in our own lives or the lives of those around us.


Get tickets here: Doc & Darryl

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#AFIDOCS Interview: AFTER SPRING Directors Steph Ching and Ellen Martinez

AFTER SPRING looks at the brutal war in Syria, which has contributed to the largest refugee crisis since World War II, with nearly 60 million people fleeing the conflict. Many escape to Europe while others find themselves in limbo in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp — the largest such camp in the Middle East. Homesick yet haunted by the violence they’ve witnessed, they fear their children may become a “lost generation.” Many struggle with dwindling resources as others become entrepreneurs, finding creative ways to generate income in the camp, while awaiting a permanent home.

AFI spoke to the filmmakers ahead of the AFI DOCS premiere of AFTER SPRING, which is their first feature together. Head to the film’s website for more info.

What inspired you to tell this story?

Martinez: I went to high school in Damascus, Syria, and spent over eight years living in the Middle East. As the conflict in Syria escalated, I was extremely frustrated by how the media failed to talk to the Syrian people and show the human side of the story. Everything was so politicized while thousands of refugees were fleeing to neighboring countries. When an aid organization at the refugee camp Zaatari invited us to Jordan to film, we knew we had to figure out a way to go and help tell a different side to this story.

Ching: I always gravitated towards stories surrounding humanitarian issues but it wasn’t until I spent time at the camp that I began to understand how close this hit to my personal history. My grandma was a refugee in China at the end of World War II. She never liked to label herself as a refugee, and, to me, she was just Grandma, but I remember growing up with all of these stories of her “fleeing war” — the soldiers marching through her neighborhood, the few things she brought with her, the journey on the boat. And it wasn’t until I started hearing very similar stories from the people we met at Zaatari that I began to make this connection. And the fact that this story is representative of so many people’s histories, whether it is the current generation or from more than 70 years ago, is so powerful.

How did you find the subject(s) in your film?

We were so inspired by the people we met working and living at the camp — from the aid workers struggling tirelessly to keep the camp running, to the families who risked everything to get to the camp and are now trying to rebuild their lives as best they can.

What was a particular obstacle you faced while making the film?

Our film is mostly in Arabic and Korean. We do not speak either of those languages. Being able to put all our trust in our translators, making sure we got everything we needed on location, and then having to put it all together in the edit was a constant challenge. Overall, we had 24 translators contributing to the film. We didn’t want to rely on narration and felt it was important for the families to be able to share their own stories and experiences. This actually led to some of our favorite parts of the film, where the families share their home videos from their time back in Syria.

What do you want audiences to walk away with after screening your film?

We hope this movie will help people better understand what it means to be a refugee. The families in our film had happy, fulfilling lives back in Syria before they were forced to flee. No one chooses to become a refugee and we hope our documentary can help audiences put a human face to this issue that is so often generalized in the media. We hope it will inspire some of our audience to get involved with organizations doing work to help in this refugee crisis.

Why do you think Washington, DC, is a valuable location to screen your film?

Some members of Congress have sought to halt refugee admissions to Syrians and to date, the United States has only let in one fifth of its pledged number of 10,000 Syrian refugees for 2016. Being able to screen in Washington, DC, and to meet and invite decision-makers who are directly involved in policies related to resettlement and humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees has potential to influence real change.

AFTER SPRING plays AFI DOCS on Thursday, June 23, 1:00 p.m., and Friday, June 24, 4:15 p.m. Buy tickets here.

{Source: American Film Magazine (blog)May 25, 2016}



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — MAY 18, 2016, WASHINGTON, DC — The American Film Institute (AFI) has announced the AFI DOCS 2016 festival sponsors.  AT&T returns this year as Presenting Sponsor, which represents the top level of support.


Support for the festival comes from a wide range of major companies, cultural institutions, foundations, philanthropists and government agencies.  The 14th edition of AFI DOCS will run June 22–26, 2016, in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, Maryland.


“AT&T’s passion to mobilize the world allows AFI DOCS to bring together global audiences, impassioned storytellers and influential policy leaders in a manner worthy,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO. “We are grateful to all of our sponsors for their dedication to the festival and its vital location in the heart of the nation’s capital, where documentaries can truly effect change.”


AT&T will host the Opening Night Gala at the Newseum.  Also, an AT&T “It Can Wait” message warning against the dangers of distracted driving will play before each festival film.  The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, NBCUniversal and VIZIO return as Official Sponsors of the festival.  American Airlines returns as the official airline of AFI.  VIZIO will also be the festival’s Closing Night Sponsor and will generously outfit the AFI DOCS Festival Hub with the company’s latest home theater equipment and technology.


Screen Sponsors are Discovery Communications, HBO and Netflix.


Major Sponsors include the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, returning this year; BRICKTOWN; Catapult Film Fund; CrossCurrents Foundation; CYM Media & Entertainment; DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment; the Fledgling Fund; Google; and the Maryland Film Office.  Harbers Studios joins the festival this year as a Major Sponsor and will also sponsor the short film programs at AFI DOCS, including screenings and Filmmaker Forum sessions.


Contributing Sponsors are Amtrak, Downtown Silver Spring and the International Documentary Association.


Also joining as a Contributing Sponsor, IFC’s comedy series DOCUMENTARY NOW!, which pays loving homage to documentaries, will host a special event on June 23 at the Landmark Theatres Atlantic Plumbing Cinema, with a six-theater presentation of iconic episodes of the show.


Official Media Sponsors include Here TV, Screen International, Variety, The Wall Street Journal, WAMU 88.5 FM and WHUT-TV.  Affiliate Media Sponsors include Outfront Media and WTOP 103.5 FM.


The Newseum, AFI DOCS’ Official Gala Screening Sponsor located on historic Pennsylvania Avenue between the United States Capitol and the White House, will also host this year’s Closing Night Gala, Spotlight Screenings and the AFI DOCS Charles Guggenheim Symposium and Screening with Werner Herzog.


In addition to supporting AFI DOCS film programming and festival events, sponsors provide services to filmmakers and festival attendees throughout the week.  Participation ranges from sponsoring specific film screenings and receptions to outfitting venues with technology infrastructure and creating event spaces.  Sponsors also participate in national and local promotion of the festival.



Presenting Sponsor:  AT&T

Official Sponsors:  American Airlines (official airline of AFI), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, NBCUniversal, VIZIO (official home theater sponsor of AFI)

Screen Sponsors:  Discovery Communications, HBO and Netflix

Major Sponsors:  The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands; BRICKTOWN; Catapult Film Fund; CrossCurrents Foundation; CYM Media & Entertainment; DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment; the Fledgling Fund; Google; Harbers Studios; the Maryland Film Office

Contributing Sponsors:  Amtrak, Anonymous, DOCUMENTARY NOW!, Downtown Silver Spring, International Documentary Association

Supporting Sponsor:  Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce

Cultural Sponsors:  Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Danish Film Institute, Embassy of Israel, Embassy of the Republic of Poland, General Representative of the Government of Flanders to the USA

Official Media Sponsors:  Here TV, Screen International, Variety, The Wall Street Journal, WAMU 88.5 FM, WHUT-TV

Affiliate Media Sponsors:  Outfront Media, WTOP 103.5 FM

Official Gala Screening Sponsor:  The Newseum

Official Hotels:  Hotel George, Hotel Monaco

Generous Individual Support Provided By:

Major Festival Underwriter:  Mary Jo Greenberg

Official Festival Underwriters:  Michael C. Donaldson, Grace Guggenheim, John and Rachel King, Sally and Tod MacKenzie

About AT&T

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AFI DOCS is the American Film Institute’s annual documentary festival in the Washington, DC area.  Presenting the year’s best documentaries, AFI DOCS is the premier festival in the U.S. dedicated to screenings and events that connect audiences, filmmakers and policy leaders in the seat 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, D A Pennebaker, Agnès Varda and Frederick Wiseman.  Now in its 14th year, the festival will be held June 22­–26, 2016 in landmark Washington, DC venues and the historic AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD.  Visit and connect on, and


About the American Film Institute

AFI is America’s promise to preserve the heritage of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI programs include the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive, which preserve film heritage for future generations; the AFI Life Achievement Award, the highest honor for a career in film; AFI AWARDS, honoring the most outstanding movies and TV series of the year; AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies television events and movie reference lists, which have introduced and reintroduced classic American movies to millions of film lovers; year-round and special event exhibition through AFI FEST presented by Audi, AFI DOCS and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center; and educating the next generation of storytellers at the world-renowned AFI Conservatory.  For more information about AFI, visit or connect with AFI at,, and


# # #


Gabrielle Flamand, AFI DOCS PR, 202.339.9598 or

Liza Ameen, American Film Institute, 323.856.7885 or




After Spring the outstanding new documentary feature film from Executive Producer Jon Stewart will have its DC premiere at the AFI Docs film festival on June 23 and 24After Spring is directed by Steph Ching and Ellen Martinez who are the recipients of a MacArthur Foundation Award.

With the Syrian conflict now in its sixth year, millions of people continue to be displaced. This is the story of what happens next. By following two refugee families in transition and aid workers fighting to keep the camp running, viewers will experience what it is like to live in Zaatari, the largest camp for Syrian refugees. With no end in sight for the conflict or this refugee crisis, everyone must decide if they can rebuild their lives in a place that was never meant to be permanent.

Underscoring the timeliness of the film, the Washington, DC debut coincides with World Refugee Day which is on June 20th. The Syrian conflict has displaced over 10 million people according to the United Nations.


The film tells the moving, personal, and inspiring stories of Syrian refugees and aid workers at the largest refugee camp for Syrians, the Zaatari Refugee Camp which is home to 80,000 people and is now considered the fourth largest city in Jordan. Over half of the camp’s population is under 18 years old and over 5,000 babies have been born in the camp since it opened in July 2012.


Filmmakers’ Statement:

“Our goal was to put a human face to the Syrian refugee crisis.  Although many news crews have visited Zaatari we had the opportunity to spend months at the camp, uncovering stories never seen before.  We believe our film can offer the unique perspective of humanitarians in the field and the Syrians themselves whose voices are so rarely heard.”

Filmmakers’ Bios:

Steph Ching, Director/Producer, was Associate Producer and Additional Editor on the Emmy Nominated documentary, Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon. Other passions include volunteer work, she participated in relief efforts during post-hurricane Katrina and made several trips to Sichuan, China to film testimonies with survivors of the 2008 earthquake.  Her grandmother was a refugee in China before finally making her way to the United States.

Ellen Martinez, Director/Producer, was Associate Producer on Tested, a feature documentary about educational inequality in the NYC public school system. She was Directors Assistant and has worked in the A.D. and Production Departments for various films in NYC. Ellen has spent over 8 years in the Middle East and lived in Damascus, Syria for four years.



“I remember seeing the original footage Steph and Ellen had shot, and being so impressed with their work, and thinking we had to figure out a way to get them back into Zaatari to complete the project. They found a way to tell the story of the camp, to provide some context for the families’ stories in a beautiful, real and unobtrusive way that is particularly moving and urgent.” – Jon Stewart, Executive Producer


Public Screenings of After Spring at AFI Docs

Thursday, June 23 at 1:30 PM
at Landmark’s E Street Cinema – Washington, DC

Friday, June 24 at 4:15 PM
at AFI Silver Theatre & Cultural Center – Silver Spring, MD

(Source: Press materials provided by  Adam Segal / The 2050 Publicity Group)

The AFI DOCS Interview: MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE Directors Bob Hercules & Rita Coburn Whack

The AFI DOCS Interview: MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE Directors Bob Hercules & Rita Coburn Whack

May 16, 2016

Co-directors Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack present a lovingly crafted and stunningly comprehensive portrait of the esteemed Dr. Maya Angelou with MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE. The incredible story is told by Angelou herself, along with a remarkable cast of contemporaries from her careers as actress, writer, poet and activist. In chronicling Angelou’s life from her youth in the Depression-era South through her rise to international prominence, the film is a vital document about the importance of grace, dignity and the quest for the peace.

See the full article with the interview here.



(Source: American Film Magazine)

#AFI DOCS Announces Lineup

Ninety-four films. 30 countries. The best of documentary cinema today. This year’s lineup includes new films from Judd Apatow, Alex Gibney, Werner Herzog, Barbara Kopple and many more. Explore all of the the films you want to see at AFI DOCS 2016 right now.

Tickets to the festival are now available for AFI members exclusively through May 17, and will open to the public on May 18. Passes for the festival are now on sale. Take advantage of the early ticketing window and discounted pass prices by becoming an AFI member today.

AFI DOCS 2016 Program

Hope to see you there!


(Source: AFI Docs)