Category Archives: American Film Institute

AFI Spotlight Interview on Editor Affonso Gonçalves

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI Alum Affonso Gonçalves (AFI Class of 1993), ACE, has made a name for himself as one of the most acclaimed, sought-after editors in Hollywood. After graduating from AFI, Gonçalves moved to New York and got his start as an assistant editor on Todd Solondz’s WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE.

Affonso Goncalves

His filmography includes prolific collaborations with independent auteurs Jim Jarmusch (ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, PATERSON and GIMME DANGER), Benh Zeitlin (BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, WENDY) and Todd Haynes (MILDRED PIERCE, CAROL, WONDERSTRUCK, DARK WATERS and THE VELVET UNDERGROUND). For his editing work on TRUE DETECTIVE, Gonçalves won an American Cinema Editors award for Best Edited One-Hour Series in 2015 and received his first Primetime Emmy® Award Nomination for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series.

AFI spoke with him about his experience at the AFI Conservatory and editing THE LOST DAUGHTER, THE VELVET UNDERGROUND and DON’T WORRY DARLING – three of the most anticipated films of this year.

AFI: What made you want to pursue editing as a career, and how did you first come to study at the American Film Institute?

Affonso: I’m originally from Brazil, and I went to England to study at the London Film School. I was there for three years and completely fell in love with editing. I had a friend in my class a year prior to me who went to AFI and was in the Cinematography program. So I applied, specifically for editing, and I got in. At the time not everyone continued onto the second year which was a bit nerve-wracking, but I really loved my time at AFI.

AFI: What was it like having your films THE LOST DAUGHTER and THE VELVET UNDERGROUND both play at Telluride this year?

Affonso: It was pretty great and such an honor. The timing of it all is crazy because we finished THE VELVET UNDERGROUND last year, but we had to wait because the film has so much archival footage, that it took a while to clear everything. And by the time it cleared, we were waiting to premiere it at one of the fall festivals. Todd Haynes, the director, also really wanted it to play at the New York Film Festival. So we kept pushing, so we could hit that mark.

With THE LOST DAUGHTER, we finished the film in March of this year, and, similarly, we wanted to apply to the fall festivals. So it was actually a complete coincidence that they both happened to get into Telluride. And THE LOST DAUGHTER is playing at the New York Film Festival as well.

AFI: THE VELVET UNDERGROUND marks your fifth collaboration with director Todd Haynes. Can you talk about the unconventional circumstances of working on it during COVID and how you adapted to finish the film?

Affonso: Todd and I were both in LA. We started in late January and found this cutting room in Venice. We were working there, and then COVID hit, and everybody left. So it was just me and Todd. We would make sure that we were six feet apart. And we wouldn’t see anybody. He’d walk to work; I’d bike to work, and we’d edit all day.

We had a second editor, Adam Kurnitz, who was based in New York. He was originally supposed to travel back and forth, but then with the pandemic, he couldn’t obviously. So we just sent each other cuts to finish the project.

AFI: You’ve previously worked on another concert film about The Stooges (GIMME DANGER). How did that prepare you, and does your approach differ when you’re editing a documentary as opposed to a narrative film?

Affonso: I mean, the approach was a little bit different with The Stooges documentary. There wasn’t that much footage of them, so we didn’t have as much to work with. The film was more centered on the Iggy Pop interview and building the structure around him. It definitely prepared me in terms of the way to use music and language. I also did it with the same collaborator, Adam, who I worked with on THE VELVET UNDERGROUND, so it was similar in that sense. We knew how each other worked and how to feed each other ideas.

AFI: Was there something about The Velvet Underground that surprised you that you learned over the course of working on the project? What was it like to comb through footage, including the last major interview with avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas whom the documentary is dedicated to?

Affonso: Yeah, it was really special. It was great to get Jonas, it was great to get so much of John Cale, Maureen Tucker and Jonathan Richman – all of the material with people who don’t usually give interviews. They were super generous, so I learned a lot from combing through the footage.

AFI: You’ve teamed up multiple times with directors including Todd Haynes, Jim Jarmusch and Benh Zeitlin. What makes for the best collaboration between a director and an editor?

Affonso: I think just having an open dialogue. Maybe that sounds corny, but I think with all the directors that I’ve been incredibly blessed to work with, they’re open to other ideas. I’m honest with my ideas; they’re honest with their ideas. They’re willing to experiment, and I think that makes for the best environment. Once you’re in the cutting room, it’s great to just try things and explore all the different possibilities together.

AFI: What drew you to the project THE LOST DAUGHTER, and what was it like working with Maggie Gyllenhaal on her feature directorial debut?

Affonso: It was great. Maggie reached out to me and sent me the script for THE LOST DAUGHTER. I read it, and I liked it a lot. It was really beautifully written. Production on the film was supposed to happen fast, but then it got pushed because of COVID. Then she was offered to direct this Netflix anthology series called HOMEMADE in which Pablo Larrain enlisted 14 directors to tell short stories about COVID, and she was one of them. She called me and said “Ok, I got this project. Do you want to do it?” We worked together on that project completely remotely. She sent me the script and then the footage. We talked often, cut it together, and it worked really beautifully. So it was a dry run for making a feature together.

I just waited for her to shoot THE LOST DAUGHTER, which kept changing locations. At one point, it was going to shoot on the Jersey Shore, and then Maine, and then finally they found a way to shoot it in Greece. And then she and I cut the film together in New York, and it was a really wonderful experience.

AFI: What were some of the joys and/or challenges of working on the project and weaving together the timelines of Leda, played by Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley at different ages?

Affonso: I mean, the short answer is that it was amazing because you get to cut footage with Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckey and, for that alone, I said, “sign me up!” And then there’s Dakota [Johnson], Peter [Sarsgaard], Paul Mescal, Ed Harris – they’re all awesome. So much of the timelines were scripted. But the way we shaped the character’s memory, when it comes in, when it comes out, and the use of sound, visuals and music – we experimented a lot. And Maggie was very, very smart at pointing out the things she liked and didn’t like, so we could weave it through together. But anytime you have a chance to do something like that, it was such a gift to get to be a part of it.

AFI: What projects are you looking forward to working on next?

Affonso: I’m currently working on Olivia Wilde’s DON’T WORRY DARLING, which has also been a wonderful experience. They had another editor originally who had to leave, so then Olivia was working with two other editors. And I came on board basically to finish the film with her. We’ve worked together for about three months, and now we’re at the tail-end of it. She’s now a super accomplished director and a very smart, very natural filmmaker. It’s really interesting to work with directors who are also actors because the level of detail and specificity with acting and performance is great. Of course, filmmakers like Todd or Jim or Ben have it too, but it’s a little bit different in the way they view the performance. So it’s been a great learning experience for me.

After this, Todd is supposed to do a film about Peggy Lee called FEVER sometime next year. That, in theory, will be my next project.

AFI: What advice would you offer to current AFI Fellows and recent alumni who are interesting in following your trajectory as editors?

Affonso: I always encourage people to go to AFI because of all the people you meet there and can build really great relationships with. I’d say stay with those relationships and go after any work you can. From AFI, I moved immediately to New York with the help of my friend and AFI classmate Alan Oxman (AFI Class of 1993), and I cut short films for students from Columbia University. I did whatever I could to keep working and honing my skills.

Looking back, when I graduated and started working, that was when I started to really appreciate AFI because everything I had learned, I could immediately start putting into practice and apply to the actual job.

(Source: AFI News)

AFI FEST 2021 Indie Contenders Roundtable

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Meet the AFI FEST 2021 Indie Contenders Roundtable

This year’s Indie Contenders Roundtable for the AFI FEST film festival will feature Caitriona Balfe (BELFAST), Nicolas Cage (PIG), Colman Domingo (ZOLA), Ann Dowd (MASS), Dakota Johnson (THE LOST DAUGHTER) and Simon Rex (RED ROCKET).

The popular annual event highlights acclaimed actors from some of this year’s most outstanding independent films and is an unfiltered conversation about the challenges and rewards of indie filmmaking.

The free event will take place on Nov. 13 at 1:00 p.m. on AFI FEST’s virtual platform. Festival-goers from around the country can reserve their virtual ticket to the event starting on Oct. 20 on FEST.AFI.com.

The panel will be presented by The Hollywood Reporter and hosted by columnist Scott Feinberg.

Earlier this week, the full lineup for AFI FST 2021 – 115 titles from 50 countries – was announced and can be viewed here. Passes and tickets for in-person and virtual screenings are now available at FEST.AFI.com.

With health and safety being top priority, AFI FEST 2021 will require all festival-goers who attend in-person events and/or screenings to be fully vaccinated.

AFI members receive exclusive discounts and benefits to the film festival. To become an AFI member, visit AFI.com/join/.

AFI ANNOUNCES WORLD PREMIERE OF ILLUMINATION’S SING 2 AT AFI FEST

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI ANNOUNCES WORLD PREMIERE OF

ILLUMINATION’S SING 2

AT AFI FEST

Film To Screen At TCL Chinese Theatre On Nov. 14

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, October 20, 2021 — Today, the American Film Institute (AFI) announced that the World Premiere of Illumination’s SING 2, the new animated feature film written and directed by Garth Jennings and produced by Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri and by Janet Healy, will join AFI FEST 2021 as a Red Carpet Premiere. The film, in theaters December 22, will screen in-person at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre on Sunday, November 14.

ABOUT SING 2

In the new chapter from Illumination’s film franchise, ever-optimistic Buster Moon and his all-star cast of performers prepare to launch their most dazzling stage show yet …all in the glamorous entertainment capital of the world, Redshore City. There’s just one hitch: They first have to persuade the world’s most reclusive rock star—played by global music icon and Academy Award® nominee Bono—to join them.

With more than 40 contemporary and classic hit songs, electrifying performances and breathtaking artistry, SING 2 serves as an emotional reminder about the importance of dreaming big and the power of music to heal.

SING 2  features all of the characters audiences fell in love with in the first film (voiced by Academy Award®  winners Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, Academy Award®  nominee Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Nick Kroll and Garth Jennings), plus new characters played by music superstars Academy Award®  nominee Pharrell Williams and Halsey, actors Bobby Cannavale and Letitia Wright, and comedians Eric André and Chelsea Peretti.

More on AFI FEST 2021

AFI FEST 2021 takes place from November 10 – 14, 2021 in Los Angeles. The World Premiere of  tick, tick…BOOM! directed by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda will open the festival and KING RICHARD directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green will close the festival.  Additional Red Carpet Premieres include the World Premieres of Academy Award® winner Halle Berry’s directorial debut BRUISED and Academy Award®  winner Benjamin Cleary’s feature directorial debut SWAN SONG, PARALLEL MOTHERS, directed by Academy Award® winner Pedro Almodóvar and THE POWER OF THE DOG, directed by Academy Award® winner Jane Campion. The full program can be found here.

This year’s hybrid festival will feature both in-person screenings and events, as well as virtual screenings, showcasing transformative stories from groundbreaking artists.

With health and safety being top priority, AFI FEST 2021 will require all festival-goers who attend in-person events and/or screenings to be fully vaccinated.

Top Sponsors for AFI FEST 2021 include AT&T, Apple Original Films, National Geographic Documentary Films and Dell.

Passes to AFI FEST 2021 and individual tickets are currently available on FEST.AFI.com. AFI Members receive exclusive discounts and benefits to the festival. To become an AFI member, visit AFI.com/join/.

About the American Film Institute (AFI)

The American Film Institute (AFI) is a nonprofit organization with a mandate to champion the moving image as an art form. Established in 1967, AFI launched the first comprehensive history of American film and sparked the movement for film preservation in the United States. In 1969, AFI opened the doors of the AFI Conservatory, a graduate-level program to train narrative filmmakers. AFI’s enduring traditions include the AFI Life Achievement Award, which honors the masters for work that has stood the test of time; AFI AWARDS, which celebrates the creative ensembles of the most outstanding screen stories of the year; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive that preserve film history for future generations. AFI exhibition programs include AFI FESTAFI DOCS and year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Maryland. Other pioneering programs include workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community, including the AFI Directing Workshop for Women and the AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women. AFI’s newest program is AFI Movie Club, a daily global engagement for those who love the movies. Read about all of these programs and more at AFI.com and follow us on social media at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstituteYouTube.com/AFITwitter.com/AmericanFilm and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.

About AFI FEST
Now in its 35th year, AFI FEST is a world-class event, showcasing the best films from across the globe. With an innovative slate of programming, the five-day festival historically presents screenings, panels and conversations, featuring both master filmmakers and new cinematic voices. This year’s edition takes place in-person and online November 10-14, 2021. The festival includes Special Presentations of high-profile films with Q&As featuring the films’ cast and crew and a robust lineup of fiction and nonfiction features and shorts presented in established AFI FEST sections. Additional information about AFI FEST is available at FEST.AFI.com. Connect with AFI FEST at Facebook.com/AFIFESTTwitter.com/AFIFESTInstagram/AmericanFilmInstitute and YouTube.com/AFI.

 

THE POWER OF THE DOG ADDED AS RED CARPET PREMIERE AT HOLLYWOOD AFI FEST 2021

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Jane Campion’s Award-Winning Film

To Screen at the TCL Chinese Theatre on November 11

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, October 19, 2021 — Today, the American Film Institute (AFI) announced that critically acclaimed THE POWER OF THE DOG, written and directed by Academy Award® winner Jane Campion, has been added to the AFI FEST 2021 lineup. Honors for the film include Campion receiving the Silver Lion Award at Venice Film Festival for directing. The film stars Academy Award® nominee Benedict Cumberbatch, Kristen Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Frances Conroy, Thomasin McKenzie, Geneviève Lemon and Academy Award® winner Keith Carradine. A See-Saw Films, Bad Girl Creek and Max Films production in association with Brightstar, The New Zealand Film Commission, Cross City Films and BBC Film, THE POWER OF THE DOG is produced by Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Roger Frappier. The film will be released in theaters on November 17 and on Netflix December 3.

About THE POWER OF THE DOG

Severe, pale-eyed, handsome, Phil Burbank is brutally beguiling. All of Phil’s romance, power and fragility is trapped in the past and in the land: He can castrate a bull calf with two swift slashes of his knife; he swims naked in the river, smearing his body with mud. He is a cowboy as raw as his hides. The year is 1925. The Burbank brothers are wealthy ranchers in Montana. At the Red Mill restaurant on their way to market, the brothers meet Rose, the widowed proprietress, and her impressionable son Peter. Phil behaves so cruelly he drives them both to tears, reveling in their hurt and rousing his fellow cowhands to laughter – all except his brother George, who comforts Rose then returns to marry her. As Phil swings between fury and cunning, his taunting of Rose takes an eerie form – he hovers at the edges of her vision, whistling a tune she can no longer play. His mockery of her son is more overt, amplified by the cheering of Phil’s cowhand disciples. Then Phil appears to take the boy under his wing. Is this latest gesture a softening that leaves Phil exposed, or a plot twisting further into menace?

Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a dark and deep presence as Phil Burbank in Jane Campion’s THE POWER OF THE DOG. (Photo credit: Kristy Griffin/Netflix 2021

AFI FEST 2021 takes place from November 10 – 14, 2021 in Los Angeles.  The World Premiere of  tick, tick…BOOM! directed by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda will open the festival and KING RICHARD directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green will close the festival.  Additional Red Carpet Premieres include the World Premieres of Academy Award® winner Halle Berry’s directorial debut BRUISED and Academy Award®  winner Benjamin Cleary’s feature directorial debut SWAN SONG, and PARALLEL MOTHERS, directed by Academy Award® winner Pedro Almodóvar.  The full program can be found here.

 

This year’s hybrid festival will feature both in-person screenings and events, as well as virtual screenings, showcasing transformative stories from groundbreaking artists.

 

With health and safety being top priority, AFI FEST 2021 will require all festival-goers who attend in-person events and/or screenings to be fully vaccinated.

 

Top Sponsors for AFI FEST 2021 include AT&T, Apple Original Films, National Geographic Documentary Films and Dell.

 

Passes to AFI FEST 2021 are currently available on FEST.AFI.com and individual tickets will be available to members on October 19 and the general public on October 20.   AFI Members receive exclusive discounts and benefits to the festival. To become an AFI member, visit AFI.com/join/.

 

About the American Film Institute (AFI)

The American Film Institute (AFI) is a nonprofit organization with a mandate to champion the moving image as an art form. Established in 1967, AFI launched the first comprehensive history of American film and sparked the movement for film preservation in the United States. In 1969, AFI opened the doors of the AFI Conservatory, a graduate-level program to train narrative filmmakers. AFI’s enduring traditions include the AFI Life Achievement Award, which honors the masters for work that has stood the test of time; AFI AWARDS, which celebrates the creative ensembles of the most outstanding screen stories of the year; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive that preserve film history for future generations. AFI exhibition programs include AFI FESTAFI DOCS and year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Maryland. Other pioneering programs include workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community, including the AFI Directing Workshop for Women and the AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women. AFI’s newest program is AFI Movie Club, a daily global engagement for those who love the movies. Read about all of these programs and more at AFI.com and follow us on social media at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, YouTube.com/AFI, Twitter.com/AmericanFilm and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.

 

About AFI FEST
Now in its 35th year, AFI FEST is a world-class event, showcasing the best films from across the globe. With an innovative slate of programming, the five-day festival historically presents screenings, panels and conversations, featuring both master filmmakers and new cinematic voices. This year’s edition takes place in-person and online November 10-14, 2021. The festival includes Special Presentations of high-profile films with Q&As featuring the films’ cast and crew and a robust lineup of fiction and nonfiction features and shorts presented in established AFI FEST sections. Additional information about AFI FEST is available at FEST.AFI.com. Connect with AFI FEST at Facebook.com/AFIFESTTwitter.com/AFIFESTInstagram/AmericanFilmInstitute and YouTube.com/AFI.

***Featured photo: Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank in THE POWER OF THE DOG. Credit Kristy Griffin/Netflix 2021.

AFI FEST Announces 2021 Dates and Opening Night World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM!

Gala for Life Achievement Honoree, Julie Andrews

AFI has announced that the 2021 edition of AFI FEST will take place November 10–14, 2021, and open with the World Premiere of Netflix’s tick, tick…BOOM! This year’s hybrid festival will feature both in-person screenings and events in Los Angeles, CA, as well as virtual screenings, showcasing transformative stories from groundbreaking artists, and a gala event celebrating AFI Life Achievement Honoree Julie Andrews.

The Opening Night screening of tick, tick…BOOM! will take place at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre. Directed by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda in his feature directorial debut, the film is based on the autobiographical musical by “Rent” playwright Jonathan Larson and stars Academy Award® nominee and Tony Award® winner Andrew Garfield. The film is written by Tony Award® winner Steven Levenson, and produced by Academy Award® and Emmy® winners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard for Imagine Entertainment, Julie Oh, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Please note that with health and safety being top priority, AFI FEST 2021 will require all festival-goers who attend in-person events and/or screenings to be fully vaccinated.

Tickets and passes to AFI FEST 2021 will be available soon on FEST.AFI.com. AFI Members receive exclusive discounts and benefits to the festival. To become an AFI member, visit AFI.com/support/.

AFI Announces KING RICHARD as Closing Night Film for FEST 2021

KING RICHARD

Starring Will Smith to Close AFI FEST 2021

The Closing Night film for AFI FEST 2021 has been officially crowned! The 35th edition of AFI’s annual film festival celebrating the best in world cinema will close with Warner Bros. Pictures’ KING RICHARD, directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green with cinematography by Robert Elswit (AFI Class of 1977), written by Zach Baylin and starring two-time Academy Award® nominee Will Smith. Based on a true story that will inspire the world, the film follows Richard Williams, an undeterred father who, with the support of his family, is instrumental in raising two of the most extraordinarily gifted athletes of all time, Venus and Serena Williams. The Closing Night screening will take place on Sunday, November 14 at the historic TCL Chinese Theatre.

“AFI’s mission includes inspiring audiences, and KING RICHARD sets the bar for this year,” said Sarah Harris, Director of Programming at AFI Festivals. “Movies often deliver when we need them most, and now is the perfect time for this film to remind young people that nothing is out of reach, and that with perseverance and determination they can influence future generations.”

This year’s hybrid festival will feature both in-person screenings and events, as well as virtual screenings, showcasing transformative stories from groundbreaking artists. As previously announced, the World Premiere of tick, tick…BOOM! directed by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Lin-Manuel Miranda will open the festival on Nov. 10.

With health and safety being top priority, AFI FEST 2021 film festival will require all festival-goers who attend in-person events and/or screenings to be fully vaccinated. Tickets and passes to AFI FEST 2021 will be available soon on FEST.AFI.com. AFI Members receive exclusive discounts and benefits to the festival. To become an AFI member, visit AFI.com/join/.

AFI DOCS 2021 Award Winners

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Audience Award for Best Feature Goes to

STORM LAKE

Audience Award for Best Short Goes to SHELTER

Short Film Grand Jury Prize Goes to RED TAXI

Among the Participants in 19th Annual Festival of Documentary Film:

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Morgan Neville, Garrett Bradley, Dawn Porter

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 28, 2021, WASHINGTON, DC — The American Film Institute (AFI) has announced the AFI DOCS 2021 Award Winners, concluding the six-day festival, with screenings presented online and in-person at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. The festival’s Audience Award for Best Feature went to STORM LAKE, directed by Jerry Risius and Beth Levison. The Audience Award for Best Short went toSHELTER, directed by Smriti Mundhra.

This year’s voting jury for the competitive Short Films slate was comprised of Mike Attie, award-winning filmmaker and professor of film at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia; Greta Hagen-Richardson, Director of Programming at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and Lead Features Programmer at the New Orleans Film Festival; and Yvonne Ashley Kouadjo, Associate Producer for The New York Times’ award-winning short documentary series Op-Docs.

The Grand Jury Prize for Short Films went to RED TAXI, directed byAnonymous. The jury said of RED TAXI: “For its creative and accessible approach to telling a story from the perspective of those living and working in a moment of political upheaval, we award the Shorts Grand Jury Prize to RED TAXI. The courage of the anonymous filmmaker struck us for their commitment to depicting the nuances of reality on the ground.” The Shorts Grand Jury Prize at AFI DOCS is a qualifying award for Academy Award® eligibility.

The jury also awarded the Special Jury Prize to two films: THE COMMUNION OF MY COUSIN ANDREA, directed by BrandánCerviño Abeledo, saying,

“For its ability to tell a reflexive story with levity and tenderness, we award a Special Jury Prize to THE COMMUNION OF MY COUSIN ANDREA”; and S P A C E S (M E Z E R Y), directed by Nora Štrbová, saying, “For its intelligent use of multi-dimensional media in telling a fraught, emotional story, we award a Special Jury Prize to S P A C E S (M E Z E R Y).”

The 19th edition of AFI DOCS presented a diverse slate of 78 films from 23 countries, shedding light on overlooked stories from the past, honoring champions of change and giving us glimpses into the everyday lives of subjects close to home and around the world. This year, 52% of AFI DOCS films were directed by women, 40% by BIPOC directors and 18% by LGBTQ directors.

Among the festival participants were filmmakers and notables including Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar; Academy Award®winners Morgan Neville, Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine and Mark Ronson; Academy Award®-nominated filmmakers Julie Cohen, Betsy West and Steve James; Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Art Cullen; award-winning filmmaker Dawn Porter; Emmy® Award winner Chris Nee; CNN political contributor and host Van Jones; author and The New Yorker contributor Jelani Cobb; filmmaker and actor Sonja Sohn; musician and filmmaker Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Curator Dwandalyn Reece; President of the African American Film Critics Association Gil Robertson; Georgetown University Professor Dr. Janet Mann; rapper KYLE; and son of late comedian and activist Dick Gregory Christian Gregory.

The festival’s panels and discussions provided filmmakers, film subjects and audiences the opportunity to delve deeper into the films with conversations led by some of the nation’s top journalists, including: NBC News Correspondent Morgan Radford; NBC News’ Meet the Press Moderator and NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd; NBC News Correspondent Anne Thompson; MSNBC Correspondent Trymaine Lee; Variety’s Film Awards Editor Clayton Davis; Axios Justice and Race Reporter Russell Contreras; Senior Segment Producer of WGN Morning News and WGN’s Entertainment Producer Tyra Martin; entertainment journalist & TV producer KJ Matthews; CQ Roll Call Deputy Editor Jason Dick andHealth Care Editor Rebecca Adams; and The Washington Post’s Managing Editor for Diversity and Inclusion Krissah Thompson, Chief Film Critic Ann Hornaday, Global Opinions writer Jason Rezaian, National Security Editor Peter Finn, Religion Reporter Michelle Boorstein, and Host and Editor of Food Video Mary Beth Albright.

This year’s inaugural DOCS Talks programming included the World Premiere of Netflix’s and Higher Ground’s WE THE PEOPLE, as well as “History Is Out of the Closet: Excavating Queer Stories for the Screen,” a live stream conversation celebrating LGBTQ+ pride. The AFI DOCS Industry Forum explored building accessibility practices into all steps of the production process, demystifying investigative documentaries, the making of the hit series PHILLY D.A., how documentaries shape conversations on racial violence, a behind-the-scenes look at the Hindsight Project films and new collaborations between public media and indie filmmakers. This year’s Industry Forum programming also included closed captioning and American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation. The AFI DOCS Industry Forum is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.

RED TAXI

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

SHORT FILM SPECIAL JURY PRIZE

THE COMMUNION OF MY COUSIN ANDREA

DIR: Brandán Cerviño Abeledo. Andrea’s First Communion ceremony lacks glamour. For Andrea, things without sparkles are meaningless.

SHORT FILM SPECIAL JURY PRIZE

S P A C E S (M E Z E R Y)

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

This year’s Premium Sponsor is Apple Original Films. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) returns as Official Sponsor of the festival. NBC News’ Meet the Press with Chuck Todd and The Washington Post return this year as Primary Media Partners. Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are this year’s Official Media Partners. The Wrap is an Affiliate Media Partner.Screen Sponsors include SHOWTIME® Documentary Films, Netflix, WarnerMedia and HBO Documentary Films. Participant, National Geographic, and Eventive serve as Major Sponsors. This year’s Contributing Sponsors are ESPN, the National Endowment for the Arts and the DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music, and Entertainment (OCTFME). Supporting Sponsors include the Maryland Film Office, Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce and Rev. The Embassy of Denmark in Washington, DC, and the Farhang Foundation are this year’s Cultural Sponsors. Generous individual support comes from Stephanie and Hunter Hunt.

 

About AFI DOCS

AFI DOCS is the American Film Institute’s annual documentary festival historically held in Washington, DC.  Presenting the year’s best documentaries, AFI DOCS is the only festival in the U.S. dedicated to screenings and events that connect audiences, filmmakers and policy leaders in the heart of our nation’s government. The AFI DOCS advisory board includes Ken Burns, Davis Guggenheim, Chris Hegedus, Werner Herzog, Rory Kennedy, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Stanley Nelson and Frederick Wiseman. Now in its 19th year, the festival will be held June 22-27, 2021. Visit DOCS.AFI.com and connect onTwitter.com/AFIDOCSFacebook.com/AFIDOCSYouTube.com/AFIand Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.

 

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

 

About the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

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

About The Washington Post and Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership

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

 

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

About Meet the Press with Chuck Todd

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd is where newsmakers come to make news — setting the political agenda and spotlighting the impact Washington decision-making has on Americans across the country. It is the #1 most-watched Sunday public affairs show for the 2019-2020 season, reaching more than three million viewers every Sunday and millions more through social, digital and on-demand platforms. Meet the Press brings its authority and influencer interviews to MSNBC with MTP Daily weekdays at 1 p.m. ET, to the ongoing weekly podcast, The Chuck ToddCast, and to Meet the Press Reports, a 30-minute program on NBC News NOW and Peacock, focusing on a single topic explored through the Meet the Press lens. It’s the longest-running show in television history, recently expanding its brand to also include a political short-documentary film festival in collaboration with the American Film Institute. Chuck Todd is the political director of NBC News and the moderator of Meet the Press; John Reiss is the executive producer.

CONTACT:

Elizabeth Ward, AFI DOCS PR, elizabeth@prcollaborative.com

American Film Institute: Stacy Adamski, 323.856.7759,SAdamski@AFI.com

NAOMI OSAKA docuseries opening the American Film Institute’s 2021 AFI DOCS

Posted by Larry Gleeson

What does it feel like to be one of the best tennis players in the world?

Naomi Osaka

Find out June 22nd as the American Film Institute’s AFI DOCS will host the Opening Night World Premiere of Naomi Osaka directed by Garrett Bradley (“TIME”) followed by a virtual Q&A with Bradley. Tickets and passes for Naomi Osaka and for the AFI DOCS 2021 festival are available here.

Naomi Osaka gives unprecedented access following Osaka during a historic two years in which she works on her game but also begins to find her voice. Whether she’s defending her grand slam titles —while wearing masks in defense of Black lives — mourning the unexpected loss of mentor Kobe Bryant, or finding her independence, the challenges Naomi faces on a personal level begin to align with those in the public sphere.

With fly-on-the-wall intimacy, the series chronicles Osaka’s hectic training and travel schedule, explores the layers of pressure she is under, and reveals how she spends her time off the court hanging with her closest family and friends. The episodes also travel the globe with Osaka to further explore her Haitian roots as well as examine her deep connection to Japan, the country she represents.

Naomi Osaka is a three-part documentary series. One you won’t want to miss!

AFI DOCS 2021 TICKETS NOW ON SALE

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The American Film Institute has gone live with its tickets and passes for the AFI DOCS 2021 festival. With  77 films from 23 countries and 4 World Premieres, with 52% of the films directed by women, 40% by BIPOC directors and 18% by LGBTQ directors, this year’s AFI DOCS promises to be quite heated and equitably balanced.

WE THE PEOPLE

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

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

 

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

CUSP

ROADRUNNER

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Passes to AFI DOCS 2021 are now available at DOCS.AFI.com . AFI Members receive exclusive discounts and benefits. To become an AFI member, visit AFI.com/join.

AFI DOCS 2021 PROGRAM 

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS 

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

OPENING NIGHT SCREENING – Tuesday, June 22

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

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

 

CLOSING NIGHT SCREENING – Sunday, June 27

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

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

 

CENTERPIECE SCREENING – Friday, June 25

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

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

 

 

2021 CHARLES GUGGENHEIM SYMPOSIUM 

 

GUGGENHEIM SYMPOSIUM WITH DAWN PORTER – Wednesday, June 23

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

 

RISE AGAIN: TULSA AND THE RED SUMMER:  DIR Dawn Porter.  PROD Dawn Porter.  USA.

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

FEATURE FILMS 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

THE NEUTRAL GROUND:  DIR CJ Hunt.  PROD Darcy McKinnon.  USA.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

TOM PETTY, SOMEWHERE YOU FEEL FREE:  DIR Mary Wharton.  PROD Peter Afterman.  USA.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

SERIES 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

CINEMA’S LEGACY 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

SHORT FILM COMPETITION 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RED TAXI:  DIR Anonymous.  Hong Kong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SINCE YOU ARRIVED, MY HEART STOPPED BELONGING TO ME (DESDE QUE LLEGASTE MI CORAZÓN DEJÓ DE PERTENECERME):  DIR Erin Semine Kökdil.  PROD Erin Semine Kökdil.  USA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

SPOTLIGHT ON THE HINDSIGHT PROJECT 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

NOW LET US SING:  DIR Dilsey Davis.  USA.

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

About AFI DOCS 

AFI DOCS is the American Film Institute’s annual documentary festival historically held in Washington, DC.  Presenting the year’s best documentaries, AFI DOCS is the only festival in the U.S. dedicated to screenings and events that connect audiences, filmmakers and policy leaders in the heart of our nation’s government. The AFI DOCS advisory board includes Ken Burns, Davis Guggenheim, Chris Hegedus, Werner Herzog, Rory Kennedy, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Stanley Nelson and Frederick Wiseman. Now in its 19th year, the festival will be held June 22-27, 2021. Visit DOCS.AFI.com and connect on Twitter.com/AFIDOCSFacebook.com/AFIDOCSYouTube.com/AFI and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute. 

 

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

 

About the Corporation for Public Broadcasting  

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

 

About The Washington Post and Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership  

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

 

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

 

About Meet the Press with Chuck Todd

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd is where newsmakers come to make news — setting the political agenda and spotlighting the impact Washington decision-making has on Americans across the country. It is the #1 most-watched Sunday public affairs show for the 2019-2020 season, reaching more than three million viewers every Sunday and millions more through social, digital and on-demand platforms. Meet the Press brings its authority and influencer interviews to MSNBC with MTP Daily weekdays at 1 p.m. ET, to the ongoing weekly podcast, The Chuck ToddCast, and to Meet the Press Reports, a 30-minute program on NBC News NOW and Peacock, focusing on a single topic explored through the Meet the Press lens. It’s the longest-running show in television history, recently expanding its brand to also include a political short-documentary film festival in collaboration with the American Film Institute. Chuck Todd is the political director of NBC News and the moderator of Meet the Press; John Reiss is the executive producer.

 

AFI AWARDS 2020 HONOREES ANNOUNCED

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI’s Movie Club To Showcase Official Selections With New And Exclusive Content Featuring Filmmakers And Stars

Honors Culminate With A Virtual Benediction On February 26

Audi Launching AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarships Initiative Providing $250,000 In Scholarship Funds To Women And BIPOC Fellows At The AFI Conservatory

In The Name Of Each AFI AWARDS Honoree

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, January 25, 2021 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today the recipients of AFI AWARDS 2020. AFI’s global Movie Club program will showcase the official selections beginning in February, with new and exclusive content released daily, including special guests from the honored works introducing the titles and AFI “Behind the Scene” conversations with filmmakers and actors.

 

AFI MOVIES OF THE YEAR

DA 5 BLOODS

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

MANK

MINARI

NOMADLAND

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI…

SOUL

SOUND OF METAL

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

 

AFI TELEVISION PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR

BETTER CALL SAUL

BRIDGERTON

THE CROWN

THE GOOD LORD BIRD

LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

THE MANDALORIAN

MRS. AMERICA

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT

TED LASSO

UNORTHODOX

AFI SPECIAL AWARD

HAMILTON

Bob Gazzale

“For 20 years, AFI AWARDS has been a moment to gather artists in one room with a singular goal – to create community over competition,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO. “This year we cannot gather but will instead celebrate each honoree by creating exclusive content to be shared with a global audience through AFI Movie Club, shining a proper light on excellence.”

On February 26, the AFI AWARDS tributes will culminate with a virtual benediction premiering on YouTube.com/AFI and AFI.com.

The AFI AWARDS celebration will be sponsored by Audi, a supporter of AFI programs for the past 17 years. To commemorate each of the AFI AWARDS recipients, Audi has created the AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarships initiative providing scholarships in the name of the honorees to women and BIPOC Fellows at the AFI Conservatory – for a total contribution of $250,000.

Celebrating film and television arts’ collaborative nature, AFI AWARDS is the only national program that honors creative teams as a whole, recognizing those in front of and behind the camera. AFI AWARDS honorees include 10 outstanding films and 10 outstanding television programs deemed culturally and artistically representative of this year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image. AFI also recognizes HAMILTON with an AFI Special Award, designated for a work of excellence outside the Institute’s criteria for American film and television.

All of the honored works advance the art of the moving image, inspire audiences and artists alike, enhance the rich cultural heritage of America’s art form and make a mark on American society. When placed in a historical context, these stories provide a complex and rich visual record of our modern world.

AFI AWARDS selections are made through a jury process where AFI Trustees, artists, critics, and scholars determine the year’s most outstanding achievements and provide artistic and cultural context for the selection of each honoree.

This year’s jury featured acclaimed artists including Debbie Allen, Cynthia Erivo, Rian Johnson, David Mandel, Marlee Matlin, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Wes Studi, and Lulu Wang; renowned authors and scholars representing prestigious universities with recognized motion picture arts and television programs; film historians Mark Harris, Molly Haskell and Leonard Maltin; the AFI Board of Trustees; and film and television critics from media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, TV Guide, and The Washington Post. The jury was chaired by AFI Board of Directors member Jeanine Basinger (Chair Emerita and Founder of the Film Studies Department, Wesleyan University) and AFI Board of Trustees Vice Chair Richard Frank (former Chairman of Walt Disney Television, President of Walt Disney Studios, President of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences).

Honorees will be celebrated across all AFI platforms leading up to the benediction on Feb. 26.

The 2020 recipients join a distinguished group of previous AFI AWARDS honorees whose works define the art form and contribute to our rich cultural legacy. View all past AFI AWARDS honorees here.

 

About the American Film Institute (AFI)

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

About Audi of America
Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands, delivering about 1.845 million vehicles globally in 2019. In the U.S., Audi of America sold just over 224,000 vehicles in 2019 and launched the brand’s first fully electric vehicle, the Audi e-tron – one of four fully electric models coming to the U.S. market in the next two years. Globally, the brand aims to be CO2 neutral by 2050. Visit audiusa.com or media.audiusa.com for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.

(Source: AFI Press Release)