Press Releases


    81 Films from 25 Countries Including Four World Premieres to Screen June 17–21 in Washington, DC and Silver Spring, MDFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MAY 20, 2015, WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the American Film Institute (AFI) announced the slate of films for the AFI DOCS 2015 Film Festival, running June 17–21 in Washington, DC and Silver Spring, MD.  The 13th edition of the festival showcases 81 films representing 25 countries, including four world premieres, three U.S.


    Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville's BEST OF ENEMIES and Jessica Edwards' MAVIS! to Bookend AFI DOCS 2015MAY 12, 2015, WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the American Film Institute (AFI) announced Magnolia Pictures’ BEST OF ENEMIES, from director Robert Gordon and Academy Award®-winning director Morgan Neville (20 FEET FROM STARDOM), as the Opening Night film at AFI DOCS.  HBO’s MAVIS! from AFI DOCS alumna director Jessica Edwards has been named the Closing Night film selection.AFI DOCS kicks off on June 17 with the Opening Night Gala and screening of BEST OF ENEMIES at the Newseum, followed by a discussion and Q&A with filmmakers Gordon and Neville.


    The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today that AFI DOCS will pay tribute to pioneering documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson as its 2015 Charles Guggenheim Symposium honoree.


    AT&T Returns to AFI DOCS 2015 as Presenting SponsorFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, DECEMBER 11, 2014 – Los Angeles, CA – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today the appointment of producer and the Executive Director of the International Documentary Association (IDA) Michael Lumpkin as Director of AFI DOCS, the Institute’s annual documentary festival in Washington, DC.


    The American Film Institute’s 13th Annual Documentary FestivalWill Be Held June 17-21, 2015LOS ANGELES, CA, October 8, 2014 – The American Film Institute’s international documentary film festival, AFI DOCS 2015 will take place June 17–21, 2015 in and around the nation’s capital – with the goal to inspire change by bringing together the nation’s leaders and leading artists.  Located in Washington, DC’s Penn Quarter, as well as the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, MD, AFI DOCS continues the American Film Institute’s legacy in Washington, DC where it was born of a presidential mandate in 1965.  AFI DOCS presents a diverse slate of documentaries ranging in topics from national politics, education and health to music, sports, nature and culture.Submissions are now open and filmmakers are invited to submit feature and short documentaries at or through This year AFI DOCS will have three deadlines – early, regular and late submission dates for both short films (40 minutes and under) and feature films.December 12, 2014 - Early submission deadline for both features and shortsJanuary 30, 2015 - Regular submission deadline for both features and shortsMarch 2, 2015 - Late submission deadline for both features and shortsJune 17–21, 2015 - AFI DOCSAFI DOCS is the only festival in the U.S.



Actor Hal Holbrook Introduces the World Premiere as Opening Night

America’s Movie Critic Roger Ebert is Celebrated as Closing Night

May 15, 2014, WASHINGTON, DC – AFI DOCS Documentary Festival announced the World Premiere of HOLBROOK/TWAIN: AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY and LIFE ITSELF as the Opening and Closing Night films, respectively, for this year’s installment of the festival. 

Actor Hal Holbrook will introduce the World Premiere and open AFI DOCS on June 18 at the Newseum.  HOLBROOK/TWAIN: AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY, directed by Scott Teems, celebrates Holbrook, the renowned performer of the one-man show, ”Mark Twain Tonight!”  The film is an intimate portrait of the actor and the play he has performed continuously over the past six decades.

LIFE ITSELF, directed by Steve James (HOOP DREAMS), pays tribute to the beloved movie critic Roger Ebert.  The film will be presented on June 21 at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

“HOLBROOK/TWAIN and LIFE ITSELF invite audiences into the lives of two iconic individuals – Hal Holbrook and Roger Ebert,“ said Christine O’Malley, AFI DOCS Interim Festival Director.  “We are presenting their stories in landmark American venues dedicated to culture and history.  We could not be more thrilled to bookend the festival with these exceptional films.”

For 60 consecutive years, Holbrook has been touring with his Tony® and Emmy® Award-winning one-man show, ”Mark Twain Tonight!,“ in which he portrays the renowned American writer and satirist.  It is regarded as the longest-running one-man show in the history of theater.  In HOLBROOK/TWAIN: AN AMERICAN ODYSSEY, Teems (THAT EVENING SUN) takes audiences behind the scenes for an intimate peek at the actor’s life and to examine Mark Twain’s timeless influence in America.

“AFI DOCS is the ideal festival to premiere our film, because both Twain’s writings and Holbrook’s one-man masterpiece remain strikingly relevant and timely observations of this wonderful and conflicted country of ours,” said Teems.  “The themes and ideas presented in our film align beautifully with AFI DOCS, and we couldn’t be happier to premiere the film in Washington, DC.”

James’ documentary about Ebert, LIFE ITSELF, is a complete look at one of the nation’s most influential film critics.  Based on Ebert’s 2011 memoir of the same name, James paints a vivid portrait of the critic, whose genuine love of movies helped him remain a relevant voice in film even after his physical voice had been silenced from a devastating battle with cancer.

”We are thrilled to have our film selected as the Closing Night screening for AFI DOCS, a film festival with which I've had a long and wonderful relationship,” said James.  “Roger loved documentaries and, as a critic, had a profound impact on the success of so many of them over the years.  To be honored at one of the very best festivals devoted to the art form would have greatly pleased him.”

At AFI DOCS, screenings and discussions will continue to connect audiences, artists, issue experts, film subjects and policy leaders.  Tickets will be available in June, and details will be announced in the coming weeks at

American Airlines is the official airline of AFI and a proud sponsor of the festival.  The Washington Post is proud to be a major media sponsor of AFI DOCS.

About the Newseum
The mission of the Newseum is to champion the five freedoms of the First Amendment through education, information and entertainment.  One of the top attractions in Washington, DC, the Newseum’s 250,000-square-foot news museum offers visitors a state-of-the-art experience that blends news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits.  The Newseum Institute serves as a forum for First Amendment study, exploration and education.  The Newseum is a 501(c)(3) public charity funded by generous individuals, corporations and foundations, including the Freedom Forum.  For more information, visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the National Portrait Gallery
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the history of America through the people who have shaped its culture.  Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.  The National Portrait Gallery, part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture, is located at Eighth and F Streets NW, Washington, DC.  Smithsonian Information:  202.633.1000.  Website: 

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 only 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, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Albert Maysles, Errol Morris, D A Pennebaker and Frederick Wiseman.  Now in its 12th year, the festival will be held June 18-22, 2014 in landmark Washington, DC, venues and the historic AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD.  Visit and connect on, and

About the American Film Institute
The American Film Institute, founded in the White House Rose Garden in 1965, is an educational arts organization committed to excellence in film.  AFI is America’s promise to preserve the history 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 AFI Archive, which preserve film heritage for future generations; the AFI Life Achievement Award – the highest honor for a career in film – now in its 42nd year; AFI Awards, honoring the most outstanding motion pictures and television programs of the year; AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies television events and movie reference lists; year-round exhibition through AFI FEST presented by Audi, AFI DOCS and the AFI Silver Theatre; and educating the next generation of storytellers at the world renowned AFI Conservatory.  For more information about AFI, visit or connect with AFI at, and

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Lauren Selman, AFI DOCS, 301.651.5152 or
Liza Ameen, American Film Institute, 323.856.7885 or