Tag Archives: AFI DOCS

Film Capsule: Personal Statement (Dressner, 2018): USA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Viewed at the Annenberg Theatre inside the Newseum in Washington, D.C., as the Opening Night film of the 2018 American Film Institute’s AFI DOCS Film Festival.

Personal Statement, directed and produced by Julianne Dressner, made its world premiere as the 2018 American Film Institute’s AFI DOCS Opening Night Film. The film follows three Brooklyn, New York, high school seniors, Enoch, Christine, and Karoline, as they prepare themselves for college and try to inspire and encourage their classmates to make the jump with them.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Four Documentary Projects Receive First-Ever AFI DOCS/NBCUniversal Impact Grants

AFI announced the four documentary projects that will receive funding from the first-ever AFI DOCS/NBCUniversal Impact Grants. The grants will support the outreach and social action campaigns for the projects, which screened at AFI DOCS 2015 and participated in the inaugural AFI DOCS Impact Lab, a two-day filmmaker workshop that engaged participants with policymakers pursuing social change across a range of issues.

The documentary projects receiving a total of $75,000 in support from the 2015 AFI DOCS/NBCUniversal Impact Grants are:

THE CONVERSATION
Blair Foster (Director/Producer), Geeta Gandbhir (Director/Producer), Jessica Jones (Impact Producer)

THE CONVERSATION, a series of short films, uses powerful personal narratives to elevate shared experiences about race and equality that are often only discussed in the confines of like-minded communities. The series aims to foster a deep dialogue around racial tension and polarization in the United States as well as serve as an outlet for more personal and intimate discussions about race relations in America. Each film will be a conversation from a different personal perspective, experience and racial lens within our society.

MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
Greg Whiteley (Director/Writer/Producer), Ted Dintersmith (Executive Producer), Daria Lombroso (Director of Campaign Strategy)

The American education system was developed during the Industrial Revolution to help prepare young people to take on standard jobs of the era, which no longer exist. So why has that system remained virtually unchanged for more than 100 years when our culture and economy have dramatically shifted to an age of information and technology? Filmmaker Greg Whiteley explores this paradox and examines the future of education through experimental schools such as San Diego’s High Tech High, where students, teachers and parents embark on a new path that aims to spark an education revolution.

PEACE OFFICER
Scott Christopherson (Director/Producer/Cinematographer), Brad Barber (Director/Producer/Cinematographer), Corinne Bourdeau (Engagement Campaign Strategist)

As a sheriff in the 1970s, William “Dub” Lawrence founded Utah’s SWAT team. Thirty years later, when a police standoff ends with that SWAT team killing his son-in-law, Dub launches a personal investigation into the case. As the scope of his investigation grows to include several chilling cases of excessive force and questionable techniques used by law enforcement, he finds himself confronting a startling nationwide trend of increasing militarization of police forces.

SALAM NEIGHBOR
Chris Temple (Director/Producer/Campaign Director), Zach Ingrasci (Director/Producer/Campaign Director), Salam Darwaza (Producer/Campaign Director)

Across the Jordanian border from Syria lies the world’s second largest refugee camp. In an effort to understand the growing crisis, a film team spends one month living in Za’tari. The Syrian families they meet aren’t just displaced, they have no promise of a future with sufficient food, security, education or peace. SALAM NEIGHBOR offers personal insights into the complexities of refugee life and challenges audiences to express neighborly love for people in crisis.

Pictured above: SALAM NEIGHBOR

 

(Source: http://www.blog.afi.com)

Newtown – Confronting the Sandy Hook Massacre

Newtown  is a moving new documentary detailing the trauma and tribulations of families and community members dealing with emotions and life after the massacre of 20 children ages 6-7 years old and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut by 20 year-old Adam Lanza. Lanza had murdered his own mother before driving to Sandy Hook and opening fire with an XM-15 military style M4 carbine rifle. Lanza fired 154 rounds with multiple magazine changes from high capacity 30-round magazines to 15-round magazines. The rounds reverberated over the school’s PA system.

Newtown was directed by Kim A. Snyder. Snyder is a New York based filmmaker known for I Remember Me, One Bridge To The Next and Welcome To Shelbyville. 

The film opens in a slow-motion sequence of a parade with children in cheer-leading uniforms riding in convertibles in what could be any middle-lass suburb and provides a rather visceral idyllic sentiment of a happy childhood. In a rather seamless fashion, the film cuts to live footage from what appears to be a police vehicle’s on-board camera while a voice over from a 911 call is heard. Immediately, the mood of the film changes. Something has happened. Black and white aerial footage of the school and surrounding area, including a nearby evacuation location, a volunteer fire fighting house culminating in live news coverage of the massacre is shown as details are slowly revealed.

Snyder effectively incorporates the interview into her narrative throughout weaving testimonies into the film’s narrative interspersed with sweeping scenes of the natural beauty of the area. The Sandy Hook School Nurse, Sally Cox, described her feelings hearing the shots being fired wondering when they would stop. A Connecticut State Trooper refused to discuss the graphic details of what he saw at the crime scene focusing on the emotional impact instead. And this theme drives the film.

Snyder artfully uses text overlays with Newtown neighbors communicating with each other during the immediate aftermath. The first text reveals safety for one child and then the news of a child, Daniel Barden, who died. An emotional medium close up framed interview of Daniel’s father, Mark,  as he laments not knowing his son’s final moments takes the film’s emotionality to a deeper level. Additional interviews of the Barden’s close neighbor recounting the Friday “after school pizza parties” and the bonding between the two families keep the emotional roller coaster going. An adept point-of-view tracking shot of the community’s pastor as he solemnly makes his way to the church altar to prepare for the upcoming funeral masses opens up a massive void that no one  has wanted to talk about. The feeling there is no way to prevent this from happening again surfaces.

Snyder reaches back and adds more archival footage of Congressional hearings with testimony from Newtown’s Dr. William Begg, Emergency Room Services Director. Dr. Begg  testifies to the impact assault bullets have on little bodies and the survivability when the bodies have been riddled with anywhere from three to eleven assault rounds. Another clip shows President of the United States, Barack Obama, praising the Connecticut’s sweeping new gun law legislation as he urges Congress to follow suit.

“The number 12/14 has become a defining moment for many members of the community,” reveals a Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher. Here Snyder inserts stunning cinematography starting with a ray of light shimmering through autumnal leaves. Quickly apples are revealed and soon a hand and footage of a family apple-picking event foreshadow the Barden’s decision to conceive another child.

As time passes questions are being asked on how can the community honor these children and what can be done to help as the community searches for answers. The grieving process has begun following the massive trauma and shock they have experienced.

As the film moves toward its conclusion, a community event including a challenging obstacle course draws the survivors together as they attempt to overcome the difficulties imposed. As participants struggle to make the finishing line cheers and support are given. Another powerful metaphor Snyder wields with grace and finesse. And again, she reaches back into her tool kit and uses text overlays as the community shares their grief online as they move forward after 12/14/12.

Admittedly, Newtown is an emotionally draining film. Snyder’s direction slowly draws out the emotional strings while infusing hope and a call to action of “we are all in this together.” http://newtownfilm.com/. Indeed.

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Zero Days: More or Less

Zero Days, the latest film by acclaimed documentarian, Alex Gibney, details claims that the US and Israeli governments conducted covert cyber warfare operations against the Iranian government and the Iranians’ nuclear enrichment program. ZeroDays (1 of 1)-2Zero Days, a fitting Opening Night Film for AFI DOCS, served as a catalyst for conversation in the Q & A  immediately followed its screening at the Newseum in Washington D.C.

AFI President & CEO Bob Gazzale introduced the film and commented on the importance of Director Gibney’s work in line with “dreams for a better world. Dreams that demand debate!” In addition, Gazzele stated how honored he was to be partnering with this year’s presenting sponsor AT & T. AT & T spokesperson, Jennifer Coons, took stage and expressed what a privilege it was for AT & T to bring together politics, business and investment to learn from one another while connecting people.

Zero Days opened with a 2010 clip from an Iranian television station with the Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vehemently denouncing Western and Zionist regimes interference in the Iranian nuclear enrichment program. Throughout the film, Gibney intersperses narrative voice overs and archival footage as the spokespersons for the US government repeatedly delivered “I can’t comment” when asked about the existence of a cyber warfare super virus, soon to be revealed as Stuxnet. Two malware,  computer programming specialists from internet security behemoths Symantec and Kaspersky, uncover Stuxnet and both reach a professional conclusion  after engaging in deep analytic data processing that the virus they are uncovering is more than just the work of an at-large hacker. The sophistication and the virus’ ability to replicate itself without a user doing anything and its ability to mutate undetected is known in malware jargon as ‘zero-day exploitation’ without any protection against it and was undoubtedly the work of a nation-state. The effect the virus had on the Iranian infrastructure as it attacked power plants, energy grids, gas pipelines and industrial sites resulted in deaths and severe repercussions for scientists and line operators alike. The Symantec and Kaspersky experts estimated 500,000 attacks were unleashed over the course of its deployment.

A former employee of the US Nuclear Regulatory Agency went on camera to say that he knew of one or two nation-states that were using cyber weapons for offensive purposes. However, when asked who the states were and were the states involved using Stuxnet, a dance of denial ensued with the former employee back peddling while reiterating he did not mention names of the existence of Stuxnet often uttering “I can’t comment on that.”

In Zero Days Gibney has  upped the ante from previous works with heightened production values utilizing CGI and textual overlays to convey the genesis of a new era and a medium of espionage at the highest governmental levels and has done his homework as he provides a historical backdrop of the Iranian nuclear program disclosing the US gave Iran its first nuclear reactor under the Shah of Iran’s rule. In addition, he shows the pride the Iranian people have in their nuclear program demonstrated by their national celebrations for Nuclear Enrichment Day, a national nuclear day that has galvanized the republic of Iran. Throughout the remainder of Zero Days Gibney delves deeply into Homeland Security and the arsenal of the US Cyber Command apparatus with probing interviews and expose investigative reporting concluding with speculation on where this new game of  global cyber warfare may lead.

Zero Days is one of this year’s most important films in light of recent accusations a foreign power hacked the Democratic National Committee’s computer system as well as Democratic Presidential Nominee, Hillary Clinton’s campaign system. New York Times columnist David E. Sanger reports on this in the July 30th edition with his article “U.S. Wrestles With How to Fight Back Against Cyberattacks.”

Gibney’s other works, no less confrontational, include Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015), Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) and We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (2013).

Zero Days

Zero Days, the latest film by acclaimed documentarian, Alex Gibney, details claims that the US and Israeli governments conducted covert cyber warfare operations against the Iranian government and the Iranians’ nuclear enrichment program.

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(From left to right) Alex Gibney, writer and director of Zero Days, alongside actors Eric Chien and Liam O’Murchu, on the red carpet at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., before the Opening Night Film screening of Zero Days at the 2016 AFI DOCS June 22, 2016. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

A former employee of the US Nuclear Regulatory Agency went on camera to say that he knew of one or two nation-states that were using cyber weapons for offensive purposes. However, when asked who the states were and were the states involved using Stuxnet, a dance of denial ensued with the former employee back peddling while reiterating he did not mention names of the existence of Stuxnet often uttering “I can’t comment on that” when pressed to name names or the existence of Stuxnet.

Gibney has done his homework with Zero Days as he provides a historical backdrop of the Iranian nuclear program disclosing the US gave Iran its first nuclear reactor under the Shah of Iran’s rule. In addition, he shows the pride the Iranian people have in their nuclear program demonstrated by their national celebrations for Nuclear Enrichment Day, a national nuclear day that has galvanized the republic of Iran. Furthermore, Gibney shows a clip of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comparing contemporary Iran to Germany during the time of Adolph Hitler. 


This is a must-see film. Zero Days is screening as part of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Showcase series tonight, Tuesday July 19 @ 5:00pm and tomorrow, Wednesday July 20 @ 7:30pm at the Riviera Theatre – 2044 Alameda Padre Serra in Santa Barbara, Calif.

See you at the movies!

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AFI DOCS 2016 Wrap Up

With ninety-four films from over 30 countries the 2016 AFI DOCS had something for just about every documentary film lover. The Opening Night film dazzled the at-capacity audience at the Newseum with Alex Gibney’s North American Premiere of Zero Days,a detailed account of claims the US and Israeli governments unleashed a sophisticated virus to thwart the Iranian nuclear enrichment program. The film also addressed the issue of retaliation and made for a lively conversation and Q & A following the screening. Highly recommended.

 

 

Kicking off the first full day, I had the good fortune of seeing seven short documentaries under the guise of Shorts: Outside In; Tracks, The Great Theatre, Rotatio, Neige, Fundir and Chocolate Mountain Metal, Shorts: Outside In. Warmly recommended.

Winding up a busy Day 2 at the Newseum, an interactive museum of news and journalism in downtown Washington, DC, Newtown, an emotionally, powerful look at the local community two years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre from acclaimed director Kim Snyder, and Audrie & Daisy, a story of two high school girls who were sexually assaulted in indefensible states and their vilification on social media with tragic consequences, were shown. Both are must-see films. Highly recommended.

 

Day 3 brought  After Spring, a telling tale of the relocation of Syrian refugees and the challenges they face at the Zaatari relocation camp inside the Jordanian border. Directors Steph Ching and Ellen Martinez attended the screening and made themselves available to discuss the making of the film. Recommended.


Almost Sunrise, explores an alternative approach to the traditional diagnosis and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Director Michael Collins chronicles the journey of two Iraq War veterans as they share a 2700 mile hike from the Midwest to the state of California to create an awareness of their trauma. Along the way, the two are warmly greeted and supported by fellow veterans and communities alike. Warmly recommended.

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Unfortunately, due to an overwhelming demand for seats at the Guggenheim Symposium and Screening, I was not granted a place for the evening’s conversation with Werner Herzog and Ramin Bahrani including clips from Herzog’s storied career and a screening of his latest work, Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World. Nevertheless, I made my way over to Silver Spring, MD, AFI Silver Theater for Cinema, Mon Amour, a wonderful story of a Romanian family and their ‘never say quit’ spirit as they work determinedly to keep open the last of Romania’s grand movie palaces.

Day Four began with a visit to the AFI DOCS Lounge for the Filmmakers Forum and the making of short documentaries. Quick and to the point, storytellers and the movers and shakers of the industry engaged in an informative format as filmmakers and producers provided guidance and probed the issues in today’s filmmaking environment.

Full of vigor, the featured Command And Control,directed by Robert Kenner, recounted a 1980 nuclear accident with surreal details. Highly recommended.command-and-control-tribeca

Next, I dropped in on Vanessa Gould’s Obit, an insider’s guide to the world of who’s who in the annals of lives lived through the eyes of the legendary New York Times obituaries desk. Obit reveals a unique form of journalism and the idiosyncrasies of the writers and editors who create and compose these celebrations of extraordinary lives lived. Warmly recommended and my personal favorite!

Closing out the evening again at the Newseum with a Spotlight Screening of Check It.  Check It, a mesmerizing look at an inner city, Washington DC, gang composed of gay and transgendered teens who allied themselves together for protection and survival out on the streets of the nation’s capitol over a three year period, was directed by Toby Oppenheimer and Dana Flor. Over the course of the film, the Check It gang comes to the realization that while surviving is critical so is leading a productive and useful life. Warmly recommended.

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Day 5 kicked into gear with another visit to the AFI DOCS Lounge for Part Four of the Filmmakers Forum. I arrived early and met Discovery’s Gina Scarpulla. Unbeknownst to me, Ms. Scarpulla and her team at Discovery are pioneering virtual reality in film. Virtual headsets, known as lunchboxes were made available before and after the forum. See my full write up here: AFI DOCS Filmmaking Forum on Virtual Reality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next came the Chicken People, directed by Nicole Lucas Haimes. Chicken People delves into the worlds of the contestants and their contenders, pure bred chickens,  as they vie for best fowl at the Ohio National Poultry Show and the title of Super Grand Champion. Warmly recommended and A Don’t Miss!

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Doc & Darryl, a soon-to-be-aired ESPN 30 for 30 film, depicts the trials and tribulations of the 1986 Major League Baseball World Champions New York Mets and the meteoric rise and setbacks of the team’s two most talented players, Dwight ‘Doc’ Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. The film was co-directed by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio. See my write up: Doc & Darryl

Closing out the the 2016 AFI DOCS was Norman Lear: Just Another Version Of You, directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. This is a masterpiece of television history. Breathtaking images of actors, writers and directors watching clips from  All In The Family, The Jeffersons, Maude and Good Times juxtaposed against their commentaries, highlight this cinematic gem. Another must see film! And I know Norman Lear wouldn’t have it any other way. Highly recommended.

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This was my first AFI DOCS. Set in our nation’s capitol, the festival ran smoothly. Two venues were in downtown Washington, DC, and were within walking distance of one another. Also, both venues were easily accessible by the Metro and had plenty of shops, coffee bars, sports bars and restaurants nearby. The third venue was in Silver Spring, Maryland, home of the AFI DOCS Silver Theater and Cultural Center. Again, plenty of shops and nearby eateries and fairly easy to get to by Metro. The Washington Post calls AFI DOCS “The nation’s leading documentary film festival.” I couldn’t agree more.

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

Why Doc & Darryl

At AFI DOCS, I caught up with Judd Apatow, co-director of the new documentary Doc & Darryl before its world premiere. This was one of my must-see films. And, as usual with any film festival, my best efforts led me to an opportunity to cover the closing night film and after party for Music Box Films’ NORMAN LEAR: JUST ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU, directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. I heard Mr. Apatow was in the house minutes before the screening of Doc & Darryl was slated to begin. Knowing I only had 45 minutes to view his film and wouldn’t have the opportunity to attend the Q & A scheduled for after the screening. I grabbed my camera and hurried to the red carpet area.

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Fortunately, Jacqueline Gross had Mr. Apatow’s attention. I quickly got into place and managed to get off a few shots and as Ms. Gross finished, I stood upright, reached out my hand, introduced myself and posed the question, “Why a sports film?” There we stood eye-to-eye, man-to-man, baseball aficionado to baseball aficionado. As gracious, and probably more gracious than any other industry professional I’ve managed to engage, Mr. Apatow matter of factly responded, “Well, I was on twitter one night with someone from ESPN and I told him how much I liked the 30 for 30 films. His response was ‘why don’t you do one.’ So, I did. And these guys were my heroes growing up.” I thanked Mr. Apatow for his time and made my way back to my seat inside the theater for Doc & Darryl.

While I didn’t see the film in its entirety, what I did see was a above and beyond any other 30 for 30 film I had seen to date – purely from a production standpoint. You be the judge of the narrative!

Doc & Darryl will air July 14 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. Watch a trailer for it here: Doc & Darryl

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(Photo source: espn.go.com)

 

 

THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE ANNOUNCES AFI DOCS 2016 AUDIENCE AWARD WINNERS

Best Feature Goes to MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE

Best Short Goes to SNAILS

Festival Connects International Filmmakers with U.S. and Global Leaders

 

Judd Apatow, Werner Herzog, Norman Lear,
Members of Congress and More Join Industry’s

Top Documentarians for 14th Edition of AFI DOCS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — JUNE 27, 2016, WASHINGTON, DCThe American Film Institute announced today the AFI DOCS 2016 Audience Award winners, concluding the five-day festival in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, MD.  This year’s Audience Award for Best Feature went to MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE, directed by Rita Coburn Whack and Bob Hercules (U.S.).  This year’s Audience Award for Best Short went to SNAILS, directed by Grzegorz Szczepaniak (Poland).  With 93 films from 30 countries, the festival brought together filmmakers, industry, national policy and opinion leaders.

 

The 2016 festival provided unique opportunities for audiences, filmmakers and policymakers to meet in our nation’s capital as news unfolded.  U.S. Representatives Jim Himes and Nita Lowey addressed the NEWTOWN Spotlight Screening audience at the Newseum just hours after Democrats concluded their sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives.  AFI DOCS filmmakers convened with policymakers at the White House, while AFI DOCS Impact Lab-participating filmmakers met with U.S. Representatives Ted Lieu, Jim McGovern and David Price.

 

As part of AFI DOCS 2016, the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands and the U.S. State Department conducted a gathering and roundtable of international filmmakers from Pakistan.  The meeting focused on how international filmmakers can make the leap into the established western film community, along with private conversations on how to handle issues such as funding, distribution and censorship.  This is the third year AFI DOCS and the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands have partnered to organize programs to advance the art and impact of documentary film.

 

This year’s AFI DOCS attendees included renowned filmmakers Judd Apatow, Ramin Bahrani, Heidi Ewing, Alex Gibney, Rachel Grady, Werner Herzog (this year’s AFI DOCS Charles Guggenheim Symposium honoree) and Barbara Kopple, along with acclaimed singer Sharon Jones and television icon Norman Lear.  Global, national and local leaders in attendance included U.S. Representatives Jim Himes and Nita Lowey and German Ambassador Peter Wittig.

 

Joining the opinion leaders were distinguished journalists:  PBS NewsHour’s Chief Arts Correspondent Jeffrey Brown and Political Director Lisa Desjardins; The Undefeated’s Editor-in-Chief Kevin Merida and Culture Writer Soraya Nadia McDonald; and The Washington Post’s Chief Film Critic Ann Hornaday, Editor Josh Freedom du Lac and Opinion Writer Alyssa Rosenberg.

 

MORE ABOUT THE WINNING FILMS:

 

MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE

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

 

SNAILS

Best friends with a shared goal of becoming millionaires believe they’ve found the answer to their dreams in an unlikely profession: snail farming.

 

AT&T is the presenting sponsor of AFI DOCS 2016.  AFI’s official airline, American Airlines, returned as an Official Sponsor of the festival.  Official Sponsors included the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, NBCUniversal and VIZIO.  Major Sponsors included The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, BRICKTOWN, Catapult Film Fund, CrossCurrents Foundation, CYM Media & Entertainment, DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment, the Fledgling Fund, Google, Harbers Studios and the Maryland Film Office.

 

About AT&T
AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) helps millions around the globe connect with leading entertainment, mobile, high speed Internet and voice services. We’re the world’s largest provider of pay TV. We have TV customers in the U.S. and 11 Latin American countries. We offer the best global coverage of any U.S. wireless provider*. And we help businesses worldwide serve their customers better with our mobility and highly secure cloud solutions.

 

Additional information about AT&T products and services is available at http://about.att.com. Follow our news on Twitter at @ATT, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/att and YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/att.

 

© 2016 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T, the Globe logo and other marks are trademarks and service marks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. All other marks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.

 

*Global coverage claim based on offering discounted voice and data roaming; LTE roaming; voice roaming; and world-capable smartphone and tablets in more countries than any other U.S. based carrier. International service required.  Coverage not available in all areas. Coverage may vary per country and be limited/restricted in some countries.

 

About AFI DOCS

AFI DOCS is the American Film Institute’s annual documentary festival in the Washington, DC area.  Presenting the year’s best documentaries, AFI DOCS is the premier festival in the U.S. dedicated to screenings and events that connect audiences, filmmakers and policy leaders in the seat of our nation’s government.  The AFI DOCS advisory board includes Ken Burns, Davis Guggenheim, Chris Hegedus, Werner Herzog, Rory Kennedy, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Stanley Nelson, D A Pennebaker, Agnès Varda and Frederick Wiseman.  Now in its 14th year, the festival will be held June 22­–26, 2016 in landmark Washington, DC venues and the historic AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD.  Visit AFI.com/afidocs and connect on twitter.com/afidocs, facebook.com/afidocs and youtube.com/AFI.

 

About the American Film Institute

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

 

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CONTACT:

Gabrielle Flamand, AFI DOCS PR, 202.339.9598 or gabrielle@prcollaborative.com

Liza Ameen, American Film Institute, 323.856.7885 or LAmeen@AFI.com

THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE ANNOUNCES AFI DOCS 2016 FILMMAKER FORUM AND IMPACT LAB

Filmmakers Will Connect With Industry Professionals and

National Opinion Leaders for a Series of Professional Development Events

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — JUNE 17, 2016, WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the American Film Institute (AFI) announced the AFI DOCS 2016 Filmmaker Forum program and Impact Lab participants.  The four-day Filmmaker Forum will take place June 23–26 at the AFI DOCS Festival Hub — located at the District Architecture Center, 421 7th St., NW in Washington, DC — and is open to AFI DOCS Priority and Industry passholders as well as festival filmmakers.  Filmmakers and industry professionals will meet for a series of professional development and networking events focused on diversity in documentary filmmaking, new technologies and the expanding world of documentary short filmmaking.

 

Sponsored by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, days one and two of the Filmmaker Forum will connect attendees with independent producers, leaders in public media and cultural critics as they examine the issues of diversity and equality within the documentary community.  Additional Forum highlights include a panel discussion with award-winning filmmakers on the advantages of short-format documentary filmmaking; and a panel discussion on the Virtual Reality revolution featuring VR makers, journalists, academics and industry insiders.  The Filmmaker Forum is presented in association with the International Documentary Association and Women Make Movies.

 

The second edition of the AFI DOCS Impact Lab, produced in partnership with Picture Motion and in collaboration with NBC Universal, will take place June 21–22.  The intensive program provides filmmakers with issue-driven films with unique training opportunities in the areas of advocacy, grassroots communication and engagement.  After completion of the Lab, participating projects are eligible to apply for the AFI DOCS/NBCUniversal Impact Grants, which support the outreach and social action campaigns of select Lab participants.  Other supporters of the Impact Lab include CrossCurrents Foundation and The Fledgling Fund.

 

Selected from films screening at AFI DOCS 2016, the 10 films participating in the 2016 Impact Lab are ALMOST SUNRISE (DIR Michael Collins, USA), AMERICAN BAGHDAD (DIR Ron Najor, USA), CARE (DIR Deirdre Fishel, USA), CHECK IT (DIRS Toby Oppenheimer, Dana Flor, USA), FAREWELL FERRIS WHEEL (DIRS:  Jamie Sisley, Miguel “M.i.G.” Martinez, USA), THE ISLANDS AND THE WHALES (DIRS Mike Day, DENMARK, USA, UK), NEWTOWN (DIR Kim A. Snyder, USA), THE OPPOSITION (DIR Hollie Fifer, AUSTRALIA), RAISING BERTIE (DIR Margaret Byrne, USA) and THEY CALL US MONSTERS (DIR Ben Lear, USA).

 

“Both the AFI DOCS Filmmaker Forum and Impact Lab provide unique opportunities to convene documentary filmmakers with policymakers and industry professionals in our nation’s capital,” said Michael Lumpkin, Director of AFI DOCS.  “Through the Filmmaker Forum’s conversations with experts and the Impact Lab’s advocacy training, we hope to inspire documentarians to leverage the power of nonfiction storytelling and create meaningful change.”

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(Michael Lumpkin, AFI DOCS  Director)

The 14th edition of AFI DOCS will run June 22–26 in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, Maryland.  For more information about the Impact Lab and Filmmaker Forum, please visit AFI.com/afidocs.

 

About AFI DOCS

AFI DOCS is the American Film Institute’s annual documentary festival in the Washington, DC area.  Presenting the year’s best documentaries, AFI DOCS is the premier festival in the U.S. dedicated to screenings and events that connect audiences, filmmakers and policy leaders in the seat of our nation’s government.  The AFI DOCS advisory board includes Ken Burns, Davis Guggenheim, Chris Hegedus, Werner Herzog, Rory Kennedy, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Stanley Nelson, D A Pennebaker, Agnès Varda and Frederick Wiseman.  Now in its 14th year, the festival will be held June 22­–26, 2016 in landmark Washington, DC venues and the historic AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD.  Visit AFI.com/afidocs and connect on twitter.com/afidocs, facebook.com/afidocs and youtube.com/AFI.

About the American Film Institute

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

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CONTACT:

Gabrielle Flamand, AFI DOCS PR, 202.339.9598 or gabrielle@prcollaborative.com

Liza Ameen, American Film Institute, 323.856.7885 or LAmeen@AFI.com

World Premiere of “Visitor’s Day” set for AFI DOCS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                             

Date: June 15, 2016

Visitor’s Day, the latest feature documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Nicole Opper, will premiere on Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 6:45pm at the AFI DOCS international documentary film festival at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center located at 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, MD.

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Visitor’s Day, set at IPODERAC, a home for 72 abandoned boys, tells the story of Juan Carlos, a runaway at age 10 who struggles for self-acceptance in the face of abandonment by his father. Founded in 1966, IPODERAC will celebrate it’s 50th anniversary this month, the month of our world premiere. This is also the year they break ground on the first home of it’s kind for girls and young women, a fact revealed in the film. The founder and various leaders of IPODERAC will be flying in from Mexico for this premiere.

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For 50 years, IPODERAC (www.ipoderac.org) has helped homeless boys become self-sufficient, productive citizens of Mexico. It embodies the values of education, work and sustainability it teaches the children by operating as a social enterprise that generates 75% of its revenues from the sale of 28 varieties of artisan goat cheese.

Opper directed and produced the Emmy® Award-nominated feature documentary “Off and Running” which was an Audience Favorite at Tribeca, won ten international festival awards (including Outfest) and aired on P.O.V. in 2010. Visitor’s Day, is supported by a Fulbright Fellowship, New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), Chicken & Egg Pictures and The Independent Television Service (ITVS).  Nicole has produced films for The Discovery Channel and a documentary series for Here TV, and was selected for Filmmaker Magazine’s annual “25 New Faces of Independent Film.”

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Filmmaker Nicole Opper

 

Director’s Statement:

I first encountered the IPODERAC boys as an eighteen year old volunteer, and I knew I was witnessing something extraordinary. Eleven years later, I unearthed the journal I kept during my time there. In it, I read that I had vowed to come back and make a documentary about this place. I returned to IPODERAC to fulfill this promise and lived on the premises for a year. While this film is an intimate verite portrait of one young man growing up at IPODERAC, I see this story as a beacon of hope, a tale of redemption and a positive depiction of our neighboring country in the midst of a storm of mainstream media that continues to focus almost exclusively on drug violence and “illegal” immigration.

Visitor’s Day also will show at the AFI DOCS festival on Sunday, June 25th at 5:30pm at the Landmark E Street Cinema at 555 11th St., NW, Washington, DC.

 

Tickets are available at www.afi.com and additional information about the film is available at www.visitorsdaythefilm.com.

 

“VISITOR’S DAY is an affecting portrait of a neglected boy striving for self-acceptance and maturity.” – AFI DOCS Film Festival

(Press release provided by Stephanie Strong)