Category Archives: Film Festival

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

THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE ANNOUNCES SPONSORS FOR AFI DOCS 2021

THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE ANNOUNCES
SPONSORS FOR AFI DOCS 2021

Support Comes From Wide Range of Art and Cultural Institutions, Media Partners and Corporations

Apple Original Films Joins AFI DOCS as a Premium Sponsor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, June 18, 2021, WASHINGTON, DC — The American Film Institute (AFI) has announced the sponsors for AFI DOCS 2021. Support for the festival comes from both local organizations based in the DC-metro area and major corporations across the nation. The 19th edition of AFI DOCS will run 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.

“AFI DOCS reaches a nationwide audience with the support of our sponsors,” said Sarah Harris, AFI Festivals Director of Programming. “It is their generosity that amplifies the voices of today’s most vital storytellers, and we thank them on behalf of all who find inspiration in the arts.” 

In addition to supporting AFI DOCS film programming and events, sponsors provide services and exclusive experiences to filmmakers and audiences throughout the festival. Sponsor participation includes sponsoring specific film screenings, panels and events as well as national and local promotion of the festival.  

This year, AFI is proud to have Apple Original Films support AFI DOCS for the first time as a Premium Sponsor. Top festival sponsors will give audiences sneak peeks at exclusive upcoming trailers and content on the festival’s streaming platform and in the AFI DOCS Festival Hub. Media partners will also provide DOCS audiences with access to their digital issues during the week of the festival via a virtual newsstand.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) returns as Official Sponsor of the festival. CPB is Official Sponsor of the AFI DOCS Industry Forum and the Spotlight on the Hindsight Project, a special selection of short filmsthat chronicle the experiences of BIPOC communities in the American South and U.S. Territories during the unprecedented events of 2020.  

NBC News’ Meet the Press with Chuck Todd and The Washington Post return this year as Primary Media Partners. Meet the Press and The Washington Post, in conjunction with the Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership, will provide moderators for a number of films in this year’s festival. Highlights include Meet the Press Moderator and NBC Political Director Chuck Todd moderating LFG and NBC News Correspondent Morgan Radford moderating the discussion following the Opening Night World Premiere of NAOMI OSAKA. In addition to supporting post-screening discussions, Washington Post Live, The Post’s live journalism platform, will host a conversation with ROADRUNNER: A FILM ABOUT ANTHONY BOURDAIN filmmaker Morgan Neville. Post Managing Editor for Diversity and Inclusion Krissah Thompson will also moderate the World Premiere of WE THE PEOPLE in the inaugural DOCS Talks program.

Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are this year’s Official Media Partners. This year, Variety sponsors the Charles Guggenheim Symposium, which will feature a conversation between the 2021 Guggenheim honoree Dawn Porter and Variety’s Clayton Davis, and The Hollywood Reporter will be a media partner for the screening of SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED). 

The Wrap joins AFI DOCS as an Affiliate Media Partner this year and is a media partner for the screening of TOM PETTY: SOMEWHERE YOU FEEL FREE.

Screen Sponsors are SHOWTIME® Documentary Films, Netflix, WarnerMedia and HBO Documentary Films. SHOWTIME® Documentary Films will once again host a networking event for filmmakers and industry, adjusted to be virtual instead of the in-person event they have hosted in the past. SHOWTIME® willalso send a special, customized gift to the festival filmmakers as they celebrate AFI DOCS from home.

Participant returns as a Major Sponsor, along with new sponsors National Geographic and Eventive. 

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.comand connect on Twitter.com/AFIDOCS,Facebook.com/AFIDOCSYouTube.com/AFI andInstagram.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 atFacebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute,YouTube.com/AFI, Twitter.com/AmericanFilm andInstagram.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 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. 

CONTACT: 

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

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

SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL WILL RETURN IN PERSON AND ANNOUNCES 2022 DATES

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 37th Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG® will be happening LIVE March 2 – March 12, 2022. Official events including screenings, filmmaker Q&As, industry panels, and celebrity tributes, will be held throughout the city, including at the historic Arlington Theatre.

“After more than a year of staring at screens from home, SBIFF is chomping at the bit to welcome everyone back to Santa Barbara for collective experiences and engaging face-to-face interactions about cinema!” says Roger Durling, SBIFF’s Executive Director.

 

Last year, SBIFF’s executed an elaborate build-out of two beachside drive-in theatres, debuting 47 world premieres and 37 U.S. premieres, with honorary awards bestowed on Bill Murray, Carey Mulligan, Sacha Baron Cohen, Amanda Seyfried, Riz Ahmed, Maria Bakalova, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Andra Day, Sidney Flanigan, Vanessa Kirby, Tahar Rahim, Zendaya, and Delroy Lindo. With the anticipation of the in-person live experience coming back to film festivals, organizers are expecting A-list guests to once again ascend on Santa Barbara, making it a must-stop location on the awards circuit, delivering an unprecedented number of films, many of them World and US premieres.  The film lineup and schedule will be announced in February 2022.

Over the past 36 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the world attracting 100,000+ attendees throughout the week. Funds raised through the festival directly support SBIFF’s year-round free programs that serve over 18,000 people.

Passes for the 2022 Festival will be on sale in August. For additional information or to buy passes, visit sbiff.org

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.

 

Juries Announced For Sundance 2021 Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

22 Jurors to Award Prizes at Awards Night on February 2nd

Park City, UT — 22 celebrated voices across film, art, and culture will bestow this year’s awards on feature-length and short films at the Sundance Film Festival, at a digital ceremony taking place February 2nd. This year’s Festival is fully available online at Festival.Sundance.org; Awards Night will be live-streamed. Award-winning films will be available for special extended-run viewing the day after the ceremony.

The awards, which recognize standout artistic and cinematic achievement, are decided on by 6 section juries. As in years past, Festival audiences have a role in deciding the 2021 Audience Awards, open to films in the U.S. Competition, World Competition and NEXT categories.

Kim Yutani

“Our jurors have reached a high level of achievement in their individual fields, and can bring their unique perspective to the process of analyzing and evaluating films,” said Kim Yutani, the Festival’s Director of Programming. “We’re pleased to bring this accomplished, creative group together, and look forward to hearing their thoughts.”

The juried Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize was awarded to Son of Monarchs; information on those jury members is included below.

The 2021 Sundance Film Festival Jury members are:

U.S. DRAMATIC JURY

Twenty-eight years ago, filmmaker Julie Dash broke through racial and gender boundaries with  Daughters of the Dust (Best Cinematography, 1991 Sundance Film Festival), and she became the first African American woman to have a wide theatrical release of her feature film. In 2004 the Library of Congress placed Daughters of the Dust in the National Film Registry, where it joins a select group of American films preserved and protected as national treasures. Dash has written and directed television projects including episodes of Queen Sugar for the Oprah Winfrey Network. She also directed The Rosa Parks Story, Incognito, Funny Valentines, Love Song, and Subway Stories.

Cynthia Erivo is a Tony-, Emmy- and Grammy-winning actress and singer as well as an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild nominee. Erivo burst onto West End and Broadway stages in The Color Purple and has since taken the world by storm in movies such as Harriet. Currently, Erivo can be seen on the HBO series The Outsider. She will play Aretha Franklin on National Geographic’s Genius: Aretha in March, will be releasing her debut album in the Summer of 2021 and will soon star in Universal’s Talent Show.

Hanya Yanagihara is the author of the novels The People in the Trees and A Little Life. She is the editor-in-chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine and lives in New York.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY JURY

Ashley Clark is the curatorial director at the Criterion Collection. He previously worked as director of film programming at Brooklyn Academy of Music and has organized film series at venues including MoMA, TIFF Bell Lightbox, and BFI Southbank. Clark has written features and criticism for publications including the New York Times, Sight & Sound, Reverse Shot and 4Columns. He is the author of the book Facing Blackness: Media and Minstrelsy in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled (2015).

Joshua Oppenheimer’s films include the diptych The Act of Killing (2013) and The Look of Silence (2015), which sheds light on one of history’s worst atrocities, the Indonesian genocide, and its terrible legacy of corruption and fear. His filmmaking explores impunity, fantasy, and guilt, investigating how our past haunts our present. Oppenheimer has received two Oscar nominations, a MacArthur Fellowship, a BAFTA Award, a Film Independent Spirit Award, and the Venice International Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize.

Lana Wilson is an Emmy-winning director. Her latest film, Miss Americana, premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and was a New York Times and IndieWire Critics’ Pick. Previous work includes The Departure (2017 Tribeca Film Festival, Independent Spirit Award nominee for best documentary), A Cure for Fear (International Documentary Association Award nominee for best short-form series), and After Tiller, which premiered at Sundance in 2013 and won an Emmy for best documentary.

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC JURY

Zeynep Atakan is a producer in İstanbul. She won the European Film Academy’s Best European Co-Producer award. Her production Winter Sleep won the Palme d’Or at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. She is the vice president of the European Women’s Audiovisual Network and the art director of the Sabanci Foundation Short Film Platform. Atakan is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the European Film Academy, and the Asia Pacific Screen Academy.

Isaac Julien CBE RA has had films in festivals at Cannes, Venice, and Berlin and in the Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou, and Tate collections. Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize at Cannes, and Looking for Langston has garnered 30 years of acclaim. Currently, 10-screen film installation Lessons of the Hour is at McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco, and nine-screen film A Marvellous Entanglement is at MAXXI, Rome.

Daniela Vega is a Chilean actress known for starring in the Academy Award–winning feature A Fantastic Woman. She was the first transgender woman to present an award at the Oscars, and she was one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2018. Vega has won awards at several festivals and won the 2018 Platino Award for Best Actress. She currently works as executive producer and host on the upcoming docuseries Peace Peace Now Now.

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY JURY

Kim Longinotto attended the National Film and Television School, where she made Pride of Place and Theatre Girls. The Day I Will Never Forget premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003. Other films include Rough Aunties, Pink Saris, and Salma. Dreamcatcher and Shooting the Mafia premiered at Sundance and the Berlin International Film Festival. Longinotto is currently making a film about a Jamaican-born musician based in the United Kingdom.

Mohamed Saïd Ouma currently serves as the executive director of Documentary Africa, an initiative that aims to bolster the African documentary ecosystem through funding, building and sharing knowledge, and complementary initiatives. He has cut his professional teeth as a festival manager and by working with the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers. His latest film, Red Card, premiered at the 2020 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

Born in Taiwan and based in New York, Jean Tsien has been working in documentary films for 35 years as an editor, producer, and consultant. Her editing debut, Something Within Me, won three awards at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. Recently, she produced 76 Days and executive-produced the landmark five-part PBS series Asian Americans. Tsien received the Art of Editing Mentorship Award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2020 DOC NYC.

NEXT JURORS

Kate and Laura Mulleavy received their liberal arts degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and in 2005 launched their fashion brand Rodarte. At the center of the sisters’ unique approach to fashion is their pursuit of innovation through storytelling. Their vision expands into multiple artistic endeavors, including their work as costume designers, writers, and directors. In 2017, the two released Woodshock at the 74th annual Venice Film Festival. The film was written and directed by the Mulleavy sisters, stars Kirsten Dunst, and was distributed by A24.

SHORT FILM JURY

An actor in film, television, and theater, Raúl Castillo is known for his portrayal of Paps in the critical and awards darling We the Animals, based on the Justin Torres novel and directed by Jeremiah Zagar. Castillo recently wrapped filming for Mattson Tomlin’s Mother/Android and Adam Randall’s Night Teeth.  Upcoming 2021 film releases include Little Fish, with director Chad Hartigan; Wrath of Man, directed by Guy Ritchie; and Army of the Dead, directed by Zack Snyder for Netflix.

Tacita Dean is a visual artist who lives and works in both Berlin and Los Angeles. She exhibits her 16mm and 35mm films, large-scale drawings in chalk, and other works in galleries and museums worldwide. A passionate advocate for the use and preservation of analog media, Dean has campaigned tirelessly to keep photochemical film viable in the digital age. She is the recipient of many awards, most notably the Hugo Boss Prize in 2006.

Inge de Leeuw is an award-winning programmer and curator. Her work explores crossovers among film, visual art, and digital culture through exhibitions and film programs. She worked with International Film Festival Rotterdam as a programmer with a focus on the U.S. and United Kingdom. As a curator, she collaborated with Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, Indie Memphis, Kino Forum in São Paulo, and Ghetto Film School.

ALFRED P. SLOAN FEATURE FILM PRIZE JURY

Joy Buolamwini is the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League. Her TED Talk on algorithmic bias has over one million views. Her MIT thesis methodology uncovered racial and gender bias in artificial intelligence services from Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon. She advises world leaders on reducing AI harms through service on the Global Tech Panel, congressional testimonies, and keynotes. TIME Magazine and the New York Times carry her op-eds. Buolamwini’s journey is depicted in the feature-length documentary Coded Bias.

Aneesh Chaganty is a writer/director whose two-minute short film, a Google Glass spot called Seeds, became an internet sensation after garnering more than one million YouTube views in 24 hours. His directorial debut, Searching, premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize. His second film, Run, starring Sarah Paulson, was released on Hulu this past November and became the streaming service’s most watched movie ever during its opening weekend.

Dr. Mandë Holford is an associate professor of chemistry at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, with scientific appointments at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine. She is active in science education, advancing the public understanding of science, and science diplomacy. Her honors include being named a 2020 Sustainability Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, a WINGS WorldQuest Women of Discovery fellow, and fellow of the California Academy of Sciences.

Lydia Dean Pilcher began her career directing documentaries and recently directed the feature A Call to Spy, about three female spies during World War II. Before that, she co-directed the feature Radium Girls, starring Joey King and Abby Quinn. Pilcher is an Academy Award–nominated and two-time Emmy-winning producer. Pilcher produced such movies as Queen of Katwe, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Namesake, Cutie and the Boxer, The Darjeeling Limited, The Lunchbox, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Lena Vurma is a Berlin-based Swiss producer, a Film Independent and Tribeca Film Institute fellow, an Alfred P. Sloan grant winner, and an Inside Pictures alumna. She is head of acquisitions for German distributor Filmwelt, known for titles such as Gunda and Maudie. Her current film, Adventures of a Mathematician, based on the autobiography by Jewish-Polish mathematician Stanislaw Ulam, is an award-winning, Sloan-supported German-British-Polish co-production that premiered in 2020 at Palm Springs International Film Festival.

The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute. 2021 Festival sponsors to date include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire, Adobe; Leadership Sponsors – Amazon Studios, AT&T, DoorDash, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Southwest Airlines® , WarnerMedia; Sustaining Sponsors – AMC, Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, Documentary Plus, GEICO, IMDbPro, Stella Artois®, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health, White Claw Hard Seltzer, Zoom; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, NPR, The New York Times, Variety, Vulture, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. sundance.org/festival

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

(Source: press release provided by Sundance Institute)

Jio MAMI 22ndMumbai Film Festival Postpones 2020 Edition – To Focus on Year-Round Programme and Diverse Online Initiatives

Posted by Larry Gleeson

An official selection of Indian films to be announced

4th August, 2020, Mumbai – The Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) took a unanimous decision in the light of the coronavirus crisis, the devastating pain and suffering across the country and uncertainty over the reopening of cinemas in Mumbai to push the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival to 2021. The festival will, however, be releasing its official selection of Indian films for the year later in August.

Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 12.05.38 PM
Isha Ambani

“It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to postpone the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2020 to next year. It is our responsibility to do everything we can to keep our communities safe during this crisis. We are humbled and grateful for the special place that the festival has carved for itself in Mumbai’s cultural landscape. We promise that the festival will come back with fullness in spirit and enthusiasm for our beloved city of Mumbai,” said Isha Ambani (Board of Trustees, MAMI).

 

“The world is grappling with a global calamity. 2020 is about survival, introspection, and

Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 12.10.22 PM
Anupama Chopra

humility. We have decided to prioritize healing this year and hold the festival in its full splendor next year. We will focus and put our might behind our Year-Round Programme’s digital imprint that has already created a stir with Dial M For Films and MAMI YRP Home Theatre. As we carve the path ahead, we would like to thank our partners, sponsors, collaborators, and the filmmaking community for standing by us. Our endeavor will be to support them as much as we can in getting through this dark time,” said Anupama Chopra (Festival Director).

 

The postponement of the upcoming edition of the festival, however, doesn’t signal any flagging in the academy’s (MAMI) constant effort to galvanize the industry, curate the best Indian cinema and bring them to the widest possible audience. Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival is a crucial milestone in the journey of new films from India as well as a platform that discovers and encourages upcoming film talent. With that in mind, the selection committee at the festival has been watching films relentlessly and an official selection of Indian films for this year will be announced shortly.

 

Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 12.14.03 PM
Smriti Kiran

“There is absolutely no denying that the pandemic has posed an unprecedented challenge to independent films and filmmakers, and there is no digital experience that can replicate a physical festival. But this unfortunate predicament has also come with its own share of opportunities. In the last three months, MAMI has adapted to shifting realities and pivoted to focussed programming online with a two-pronged aim. First, to serve the community of film lovers that have relied on MAMI to bring them the best films from all over the world and the second, to continue to provide filmmakers with a platform to showcase their films. Our online knowledge series, Dial M For Films has received staggering love. We will be taking both the academy and Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival’s key initiatives online and work towards strengthening and exploring a new frontier for MAMI opened by the digital format that is not confined by geography. We stay committed to the independent filmmaking community and our audience. We will continue to nurture the community, serve our audience and expand our footprint by adding more extensions to our digital arm and creating value for filmmakers who are already at a loss this year,” said Smriti Kiran (Artistic Director, MAMI and Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival).

The unexpected impetus provided by COVID-19 has brought home the fact that there is a vast audience outside of Mumbai for the many initiatives that the academy (MAMI) has launched (Dial M For Films, Year-Round Programme Home Theatre), and there is no time like the present to focus on a national imprint for Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival verticals like the Word to Screen Market, Young Critics Lab and the Industry Programme.MAMI has already launched an online extension to its popular year-round imprint called MAMI Year Round Programme Home Theatre which curates films that are shared digitally with a large database of film lovers and empowers filmmakers to bring their films to the audience directly. It has also started an online knowledge series -Dial M For Films, which focuses on breaking down what lies behind the moving image through sharply curated, specific, live conversations with solid film talent. The conversations have found a growing audience as they take viewers on a journey through the process with the lived experience of working professionals that is invaluable. An announcement regarding the dates of Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival in 2021 will be made soon.

About MAMI Year Round Programme & MAMI Initiatives

The MAMI Year Round Programme (MAMI YRP) is a one of a kind film program started by Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) in 2016 with the belief that it is not enough, in an ecosystem like India, to have just a week-long film festival. It hosts weekly screenings, workshops and conversation sessions for film lovers in the country. This has given the academy a year-long imprint and presence as opposed to presence only for a week in the year. Through this program, passionate film lovers can sign up and access the best and latest Indian and international films, series, and talent throughout the year. The Year-Round Programme has expanded its footprint and now encompasses an online screening arm, MAMI Year Round Programme Home Theatre and the online knowledge series Dial M For Films which puts the audience and aspiring film professionals in the front seat with some of the best in the business.

Along with the thriving MAMI Year Round Programme, MAMI will also take a host of its popular festival (Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival) initiatives online which include the Young Critics Lab (YCL), Word to Screen Market and the Industry Programme.YCL was set up to foster young writing talent in the field of cinema. The online YCL mentored by acclaimed film critics Baradwaj Rangan and Mike McCahill will enable students from all over India to participate and will feature in-depth modules that examine and hone analytical as well as writing skills. Word to Screen Market is a first of its kind of platform in India where authors, publishers, and the literary community engage directly with content creators to option stories for films, TV, and the digital medium. This year, Word to Screen will take place online and focus on digital workshops with publishers and content creators. The Industry Programme was launched last year with an aim to galvanize the industry nationally and globally for knowledge exchange, connections, discovery, and collaborations. In its online avatar, the program will bring together creators from all over India to talk about the challenges they face and share their learnings. For more information log onto http://www.mumbaifilmfestival.com.

Until next year, I’ll see you at the movies!

Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 12.17.42 PM

(Source: Mumbia MAMI Film Festival Press Release)

 

 

 

AFI DOCS Film Review: Maria Finitzo’s Cliteracy-exploring DILEMMA OF DESIRE Shouts For More

Posted by Larry Gleeson                                                                                      June 29, 2020

Watching the opening scene of the cliteracy-exploring documentary, The  Dilemma of Desire, I was intrigued watching a woman, neuroscientist Stacey Dutton, Ph. D., in an office present-day, walking across the screen and opening a Gray’s Anatomy Textbook, while a voice-over narration informs the viewer. What happens next befuddled me. I could not believe my eyes. Here is a woman in 2020 with an anatomy book that has no picture or information on the female clitoris. Unbelievable right? Well, apparently, the edition being discussed was published in 1858. A sleight of hand so to say. The intent is crystal clear in today’s protest language, “Let’s get emotional people! This is pussy power were dealing with here!!!”

But, the best was yet to come as the film’s most intriguing characters were introduced. One, a Brooklyn-based artist, Sophia Wallace, has a routine of going to the gym listening to “work-out” music then taking lyrics and reframing them with the clitoris in mind. From there, prints are created celebrating the “clit,” and the hundred laws of cliteracy. To accentuate, a revealing text title poses the question with dramatic flair, “Can you draw a clit?” Pulsating music accompanies the next segment, Womanhood: The Clitoris Chapter, introducing “Critical Thinking – The Best Work of Sophia Wallace” – a very thought-provoking art exhibit celebrating the female “joy button.” More importantly, Wallace is a compelling force on the screen as she shares her experience, strength, and hope in navigating desire as she expresses her truth as Director Maria Finitzo captures mush of it in Verite’ style.

In today’s world, we often hear somewhat crude and vulgar terms such as “bumping uglies” or “doing the nasty.” Wallace’s phrases, in juxtaposition, are framed in glitteringly gold letters – a beautiful and highly respectful manner and miles away from “bumping uglies” or “doing the nasty.” After Wallace’s whirlwind world, Finitzo goes on to highlight Linda Diamond, PH. D., Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies, a monthly newsletter for women interested in “pleasure in a practical everyday sense,” an industrial engineer manufacturing elegant female vibrators as well as a stunning Chicagoan woman, Coriama, who proudly postulates she has the will to negotiate for what she needs sexually.

Interestingly, Finitzo, a Peabody Award-winning director, spouts themes from Audrey Lourde’s feminist-leaning essay, Uses of the Erotic, that women have been suppressed from power and information by the male world. To prove her point, Finitzo adds a black and white still photograph of a woman suffering from what Dr. Sigmund Freud referred to as hysteria. Today, “hysterical” women in Decatur, Georgia, have formed a female support group. Here women create a sacred, safe space to explore the bounds of their sexuality. Adeptly, Finitzo managed to score footage from a meeting of the “mine’s.” as the women from Decatur openly share intimate feelings about their clitorises.

Nevertheless, “the little man in the boat” remains the misunderstood, “shuntive” part of the female anatomy, keeping women suppressed, as they are systematically warned against the dangers of eroticism and the resulting information. In one especially memorable scene, Finitzo mixes a driving, non-diegetic musical score culminating in a crescendo with a voice-over narration describing the clitoris as a powerful provocative force, a replenishing force. Some top-notch burlesque sequences, both archival performances as well as current-day performers, add an exquisite, erotic vibe.

The Dilemma of Desire, executively produced by Academy Award-winning Barbara Kopple, is an exceptionally well-executed film advocating that women are sexual beings with the right to live fully in the expression of their desires. The craftsmanship in gathering footage, in editing, informative narrative voice-overs, and musical score support and add timely emotionality in underscoring Finitzo’s sharply-pointed direction. My hat comes off to the cast and crew.

Probably most surprising was Finitzo’s ability to add tongue-in-cheek scenic elements underscoring the buffoonery surrounding the massive dismissal of the “devil’s doorbell” – in my opinion, a very serious oversight. But in the end, though the coverage seemed somewhat excessive, I found it wholly conceivable to view the clitoris as a replenishing, provocative force after viewing The Dilemma of Desire. A bit long, however, with a runtime of 109 minutes. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

AFI DOCS FILM REVIEW: Ron Howard’s Gripping “Rebuilding Paradise” Uplifts and Inspires

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard’s Rebuilding Paradise, a blistering Verite-style, National Geographic documentary, captures the devastation of the 2018 Camp Fire and the resiliency of Paradise, Calif., residents in the fire’s aftermath. Howard, one of Hollywood’s most popular directors, also directed the 1991 fire drama Backdraft. Other Howard films include the Oscar-winning dramas A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13, the hit comedies Parenthood and Splash, and the critically-acclaimed documentaries Pavarotti and The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years. Following the Rebuilding Paradise screening, Howard and Paradise residents, Michelle John and Woody Culleton, participated in a Q & A moderated by broadcast journalist Katy Tur, an NBC correspondent and anchor for MSNBC Live. Howard confided Rebuilding Paradise was his first venture into Verite-style filmmaking while the residents echoed the unimaginable magnitude of the fire’s devastation and that the images don’t reflect the fire’s “uncomprehendable” nature.

Rebuilding Paradise opens in dramatic fashion with narrative voice-over providing a weather update informing the viewer of a windy day and PG&E contemplating a pre-emptive decision to shut down the area’s power grid. Large, fast-moving fire breaks out in the Feather River Canyon with four dozers, two water tenders, and four strike teams are deployed. Emergency calls are heard. School and hospital evacuations are taking place. Audible prayers are heard. And then, dashcam footage of a vehicle racing through the haze and fiery embers with diegetic radio communications juxtaposed against footage of a raging, massive wildfire (imagine Lord of the Rings Mountain of Fire) fueled by dry timber and blustering forty mile-per-hour winds reveal the genesis of a perfect firestorm. Non-diegetic music from the master composer, Hans Zimmer accompanies haunting, apocalyptic slow-motion frames of horses seeking freedom or at least a free-range amidst a claustrophobic smoke and death-seeking fire patches. The scene closes tinged in hope as a family escapes the area in their vehicle with exclamatory verbiage.

For me, this opening scene captured the essence of Rebuilding Paradise. As devastating as the fire and the footage were, the family breaks out and into blue skies with a redemptive foreshadowing. Howard latches on to a group of Paradise residents who have a deeply rooted sense of place and home as they take the journey to rebuild Paradise one day at a time. There were plenty of setbacks and details of electrical equipment dating to 1921 still in use were trying and quite frustrating as the lawyers for PG&E managed to beat down a wrongful death case to manslaughter with a 3.5 million dollar fine for the lives of 85 Paradise residents who perished in the massive fire. Adeptly, Howard captures the real Erin Brockovich speaking to a group of Paradise residents. Brockovich was the subject of a 2000 bio-drama directed by Steven Soderbergh, starring Julia Roberts that dramatized Brockovich’s relentless and successful pursuit of justice for families who were victims of PG&E polluting their water supply.

Interestingly, Howard chose to tell the story in linear segments beginning with one month, then to three months, six months, culminating with nine months. On top of the eighty-five deaths, fifty thousand lives were displaced. One of the film’s most compelling characters turned out to be the school psychologist, Carly Ingersoll, a young thirty-something, married woman who had decided to start a family with her husband. But due to contaminants being absorbed into the groundwater, she and her husband were advised by their physician not to have a baby. In her professional capacity, she was fully engaged in trauma counseling with students and despite having nearly perished in the fire herself managed to see beyond the devastation and find a sense of hope for the future.

Rebuilding Paradise is a gripping, well-executed film with top-notch photography, driving musical score and inspirational, narrative story-telling and it covers the trials and tribulations of a community facing an assured annihilation who turn their devastation into a mythic Phoenix as their town rises from its ashes in warm and hopeful tones. Very highly recommended.

 

Oxford Film Festival 2020 Announces Filmmaker Awards

Posted by Larry Gleeson

THE 2020 OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES AWARD WINNERS

David Midell’s
THE KILLING OF KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN wins
Best Narrative Feature

Pailin Wedel, and Nina Ijas’s HOPE FROZEN wins
Best Documentary Feature

Danielle Deadwyler (RECKONING) received the Lisa Blount Memorial
Acting Award,
Haroula Rose (ONCE UPON A RIVER) was honored with
the Alice Guy-Blaché Emerging Female Filmmaker Award
,
and Deepak Sethi (COFFEE SHOP NAMES) is the first recipient of
the Angie Thomas Zeitgeist Award

Oxford Winners

Oxford, MS (June 9, 2020) – The 2020 Oxford Film Festival celebrated the best of this year’s films and filmmakers with a virtual awards ceremony on Saturday, June 6, highlighted by the announcement of Hoka awards for David Midell’s THE KILLING OF KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN for Best Narrative Feature, which included a $15,000 camera rental package from Panavision, and Pailin Wedel, and Nina Ijas’s HOPE FROZEN for Best Documentary Feature. The Best Documentary Feature prize included a $15,000 camera rental package from Panavision as well as documentary editing feedback from Joe Shapiro.

Midell’s THE KILLING OF KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN was noted for its raw, honest and inventive recreation of the 2011 police killing of an unarmed Black man in White Plains, NY.

The presentation of the Lisa Blount Memorial Acting Award went to Danielle Deadwyler for her performance in RECKONING, the Alice Guy-Blaché Emerging Female Filmmaker Award and $1000 from the Louis M. Rabinowitz Foundation to Haroula Rose for ONCE UPON A RIVER, and the first Angie Thomas Zeitgeist Award went to Deepak Sethi for COFFEE SHOP NAMES. The honoree is selected by a committee of Mississippi black filmmakers, is given to a film artist from a diverse background each year who has exhibited a unique and clear voice through their work.

Oxford Award

Larissa Lam’s FAR EAST DEEP SOUTH won the Hoka Award for Best Mississippi Feature Film, with the jury citing the film as “A deeply human and life-affirming film that shows that the history of the American South was not written only in Black and White but in many shades of the rainbow and is deeply representative of many parts of the United States.” Je’Monda Roy’s GETTING TO THE ROOT won Best Mississippi Documentary Feature, Erin Palmquist’s FROM BAGHDAD TO THE BAY won Best LGBTQIA+ Feature, Travis Beard’s ROCKABUL was named Best Music Documentary. and Garin Hovanniisian’s I AM NOT ALONE took the prize for Best Foreign Language Film.

Oxford Deep South

 

Melanie ddington
Melanie Addington, Oxford Film Festival Executive Director

Oxford Film Festival Executive Director Melanie Addington said, “In a year of so much uncertainty and figuring out how to re-invent and innovate and not just look forward to how we would do things in the future when it came to presenting and celebrating film and the people responsible for making those films, we knew it was vital to demonstrate our appreciation for the films we did select this year. This film festival has always tried to be a leader in our industry and this state and following through with the presentation of our awards virtually was in the plans from the beginning of our decision to pivot to our weekly virtual fests and OFF to the DRIVE-IN screening events. We are intensely proud of these films and filmmakers and are thrilled to officially recognize them as prize winners.”

 

In the Short Film category, Best Narrative Short went to Giulia Gandini’s MY TIME, with Best LGBTQIA+ Short going to Patrick G. Lee’s UNSPOKEN. The winner of the Hoka for Best Documentary Short was Johanis Lyons-Reid, and Lorcan Hopper’s THE LOOP.

Kyle Taubken’s THE BROTHERS BROTHERS was named Best Mississippi Short, Dillon M Hayes’ ALL I HAVE TO OFFER YOU IS ME won Best Music Documentary Short, Danski Tang’s UMBILICAL won the Fest Forward Best Animation prize, Ricardo Werdesheim, Moran Somer, and Osi Wald’s JOINTS won the Fest Forward Best Experimental prize, Katrina Blair’s “Pain” by Bandrunna Gwaup was Best Music Video, and Chanelle Eidenbenz’s ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM won the honors as Best Student Film.

Oxford Brothers

Jonathan Mirabill’s “Phelandra” won the Short Screenplay competition for which he received a check for $1000, Final Draft software, and mentorship from producer John Norris, and Javier Molina will receive a $15,000 check as the winner of the Artist Vodka Award for his film, WONDER.

With the Oxford Film Festival completing it’s 7th week of Weekly Virtual fests, in addition to it’s Virtual Art House selections, and recent debut of it’s new OFF to the DRIVE-IN presentations, the presentation of the filmmaker awards for this 17th edition of the fest was more than a routine celebration of jury winners and honorees. It was emphatically, another declaration that the film festival defiantly has not chosen to shutter for a year or offer up a token representation of the film programming and events the city, surrounding region, and state have become accustomed to with the Oxford Film Festival. Rather, the organization has led by example, finding new ways given limitations set in place due to the pandemic, and then mapped a way forward to find a way to bring film to the fans, and connect them with the filmmakers.

Following local musician Silas Reed entertain the audience tuning in virtually, the award show was hosted by Associate Director Matt Wymer, with presentations handled by programmers Brian Whisenant, Meaghin Burke, and Executive Director Melanie Addington. New board president Steve Case was surprised with the Donna Ruth Volunteer of the Year Award for his previous work and dedication to the film festival prior to taking on the new leadership role, underlining the energized outlook for the Oxford Film Festival as it continues to build on the organization’s work this year looking toward 2021.

Oxford loop

2020 OXFORD FF AWARD-WINNING FILMS

Danielle Deadwyler (RECKONING) – Lisa Blount Memorial Acting Award

Haroula Rose (ONCE UPON A RIVER) – Alice Guy-Blaché Emerging Female Filmmaker Award

COFFEE SHOP NAMES – Angie Thomas Zeitgeist Award
Director: Deepak Sethi

THE KILLING OF KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN – BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE
Director: David Midell

THE IN-BETWEEN – Special Jury Recognition for Disability Representation (Best Narrative Feature)
Director: Mindy Bledsoe

HOPE FROZEN – BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Directors: Pailin Wedel, Nina Ijas

YOU ASKED FOR THE FACTS – Honorable Mention (Best Documentary Feature)
Director: Mary Blessey

I AM NOT ALONE – Best Editing
Editor: Barry Poltermann

ROCKABUL – BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY
Director: Travis Beard

FROM BAGHDAD TO THE BAY – BEST LGBTQIA+ FEATURE
Director: Erin Pamquist

THE LONG SHADOW – Honorable Mention (Best LGBTQIA+ Feature)
Director: Daniel Lafrentz

UNSPOKEN – BEST LGBTQIA+ SHORT
Director: Patrick G. Lee

GO GO BOY – Honorable Mention (Best LGBTQIA+ Short)
Director: Oriana Oppice

FAR EAST DEEP SOUTH – BEST MISSISSIPPI FEATURE
Director: Larissa Lam

NOTHIN’ NO BETTER – Special Recognition (Best Mississippi Feature)
Directors: Ben Powell, Bo Powell

YOU ASKED FOR THE FACTS – Special Recognition (Best Mississippi Feature)
Director: Mary Blessey

GETTING TO THE ROOT – BEST MISSISSIPPI DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Director: Je’Monda Roy

THE BLACKSMITH OF OXFORD – Honorable Mention (Best Mississippi Documentary Feature)
Director: Michael Ford

SINGING OUT – Honorable Mention (Best Mississippi Documentary Feature)
Director: Mary Stanton Knight

THE BROTHERS BROTHERS – BEST MISSISSIPPI NARRATIVE SHORT
Director: Kyle Taubken

ALL THAT YOU LOVE WILL BE CARRIED AWAY – Honorable Mention (Best Mississippi Narrative Short)
Director: Thad Lee

I AM NOT ALONE – BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Director: Garin Hovanniisian

CUBAN HEEL SHOES – Honorable Mention (Best Foreign Language Film)
Director: Julio Mas Alcaraz

MY TIME – BEST NARRATIVE SHORT
Director: Giulia Gandini

REHEARSAL – Honorable Mention (Best Narrative Short)
Director: Courtney Hope Thérond

STREET FLAME – Honorable Mention (Best Narrative Short)
Director: Katherine Propper

THE LOOP – BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Directors: Johanis Lyons-Reid, Lorcan Hopper

TEARS TEACHER – Honorable Mention (Best Documentary Short)
Director: Noemie Nakai

TUNGRUS – Honorable Mention (Best Documentary Short)
Director: Rishi Chandna

ALL I HAVE TO OFFER YOU IS ME – BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Director: Dillon M. Hayes

UMBILICAL – FEST FORWARD BEST ANIMATION
Director: Danski Tang

JOINTS – FEST FORWARD BEST EXPERIMENTAL
Directors: Ricardo Werdesheim, Moran Somer, Osi Wald

“Pain” by Bandrunna Gwaup – BEST MUSIC VIDEO
Director: Katrina Blair

“Self Portrait x 1000” – Honorable Mention (Best Music Video)
Director: London Edwards

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM – BEST STUDENT FILM
Director: Chanelle Eidenbenz

SHE WHO WASN’T TAMED – Honorable Mention (Best Student Film)
Director: Saleh Kashefi

“Phelandra” – BEST SHORT SCREENPLAY
Writer: Jonathan Mirabill

WONDER – ARTIST VODKA AWARD
Director: Javier Molina

ABOUT OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL
The Oxford Film Festival was founded in 2003 to bring exciting, new, and unusual films (and the people who create them) to North Mississippi. The annual five-day festival screens short and feature-length films in both showcase and competition settings. The festival is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization. For more information, visit www.oxfordfilmfest.com.

Oxford Awards

(Source: Press release provided by John Wildman, Wildworks PR)