Press Releases


    ***PHOTOS AVAILABLE AT AFIDOCSPRESS.AFI.COM***​Best Feature Goes to STEPBest Short Goes to FISH STORYMariska Hargitay, Bill Nye, Laura Poitras, Morgan Spurlockand More Celebrate Documentary Film at the 15th Edition of AFI DOCSFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — JUNE 19, 2017, WASHINGTON, DC — The American Film Institute has announced the AFI DOCS 2017 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 STEP, directed by Amanda Lipitz.


    Festival Sponsors Include Cultural Institutions, Major Companies and FoundationsFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, JUNE 2, 2017, WASHINGTON, DC — The American Film Institute (AFI) is proud to announce the sponsors for AFI DOCS 2017.


    Two-Day Intensive Leads to Greater Issue Advocacy, Grants and DistributionFive 2016 AFI DOCS/NBCUniversal Impact Grant Recipients Received Distribution DealsFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — May 30, 2017, WASHINGTON, DC — The American Film Institute (AFI) has announced this year's AFI DOCS Impact Lab participants.


    AFI DOCS Will Celebrate Academy Award®-Winning Documentarian on June 16FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MAY 23, 2017, WASHINGTON, DC — The American Film Institute (AFI) has announced that AFI DOCS will pay tribute to Laura Poitras — the groundbreaking filmmaker best known for her Academy Award®-winning Edward Snowden portrait CITIZENFOUR (2014) — as the festival's 2017 Charles Guggenheim Symposium honoree.Each year, the AFI DOCS Charles Guggenheim Symposium honors a master of the nonfiction art form.  Taking place at the Newseum on June 16, the Symposium will include an in-depth conversation with Poitras along with clips from her acclaimed works.  Poitras' latest film RISK (2016), a six-year project following WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, was released by Neon on May 5 and will air on Showtime this summer.  Poitras' impressive documentary catalog also includes THE OATH (2010), MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY (2006) and FLAG WARS (2003). "Poitras has the extraordinary instinct and ability to put her camera in the heart of history as it unfolds, regardless of the risk," said Michael Lumpkin, Director, AFI DOCS.  "Using her keen eye, Poitras reveals worlds just beyond what we can see.  We are honored to celebrate her remarkable career and dedication to the documentary form." Poitras' first feature-length documentary, FLAG WARS, was nominated for an Emmy® and won a Peabody Award, cementing her stature as a top-notch documentarian from the outset.  Next, she was nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Academy Award® for MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY, the first installment in her post-9/11 trilogy.  In 2015, Poitras won the Academy Award® for CITIZENFOUR.  That same year, Poitras co-founded Field of Vision, an entity that commissions and creates original short-form nonfiction films about global events. Poitras joins a renowned list of Guggenheim Symposium honorees:  Charles Guggenheim (2003), Barbara Kopple (2004), Martin Scorsese (2006), Jonathan Demme (2007), Spike Lee (2008), Albert Maysles (2009), Frederick Wiseman (2010), Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker (2011), Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky (2012), Errol Morris (2013), Alex Gibney (2014), Stanley Nelson (2015) and Werner Herzog (2016).AFI DOCS is proud to have AT&T return as this year's Presenting Sponsor.  Passes and tickets to AFI DOCS, including the Charles Guggenheim Symposium, are now on sale at AFI DOCSAFI DOCS is the American Film Institute's annual documentary festival in Washington, DC.  Presenting the year's best documentaries, AFI DOCS is the only festival in the U.S.


    Forum Features Spotlight on Virtual Reality, Canadian Docs, Impact of Conservative Docs, Nonfiction Podcasts and More  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MAY 22, 2017, WASHINGTON, DC — The American Film Institute (AFI) has announced the 2017 AFI DOCS Forum.  Open to all AFI DOCS passholders and festival filmmakers, the four-day Forum will take place June 15–18 at the AFI DOCS Festival Hub at the District Architecture Center in Washington, DC.  The Forum will present a variety of networking and professional development events for filmmakers, industry professionals and those with a passion for nonfiction storytelling.  Highlights include an examination of the rising surge of conservative documentaries, virtual reality presentations, talks on funding, female-focused docs and much more."We are excited to present a thought-provoking program of panels and presentations to attendees of the AFI DOCS Forum," said Michael Lumpkin, Director of AFI DOCS.  "Filmmakers and documentary film-lovers will convene to discuss the state of the industry, the latest trends and address the issues facing nonfiction storytellers today.  The Forum offers the unique opportunity to connect filmmakers and industry insiders outside of the movie theater."The Forum will offer presentations examining topics such as nonfiction storytelling in a "post-truth" world; emerging trends in documentary funding; and the latest programs to support women-centered initiatives in documentary filmmaking.Additional Forum programming includes a panel with AFI DOCS Canadian filmmakers to discuss Canada's role in creating the documentary form; a panel with short-documentary filmmakers and funders to discuss and support the model; a session with NPR on nonfiction podcasts; and a documentary case study and screening of the St.


    103 Films From 28 Countries Including Three World Premieres and 11 Spotlight Screenings Will Screen June 14–18 in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, MDFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MAY 12, 2017, WASHINGTON, DC — The American Film Institute (AFI) has announced the full slate of films for AFI DOCS 2017, a five-day documentary celebration in the nation's capital.  Each year, the festival is committed to providing artists with the opportunity to present powerfully told, artfully constructed stories — and to connect audiences and filmmakers with policy leaders.


    Bryan Fogel's ICARUS and John Dorsey's YEAR OF THE SCABto Bookend Five-Day Festival AT&T Returns as Presenting Sponsor  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — MAY 4, 2017, WASHINGTON, DC — AFI DOCS, the American Film Institute's annual documentary celebration in the nation's capital, has announced the Opening and Closing Night films for its 15th annual edition.


Errol Morris Honored at Guggenheim Symposium

World Premiere of DOCUMENTED

by Pulitzer Prize Winner Jose Antonio Vargas

Washington, DC, Friday, June 21, 2013 – AFI DOCS presented by Audi offers a full schedule of Friday events of which highlights are the Charles Guggenheim Symposium celebrating Errol Morris, one of the most significant and original voices in documentary cinema and the world premiere of DOCUMENTED by Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas.   These Friday events and screenings further AFI DOCS mission to bring filmmakers, our nation’s leaders and audiences together in the heart of Washington, DC.


This annual award honors the legacy of the late four-time Academy®Award-winning filmmaker Charles Guggenheim.  This year the Symposium celebrates Errol Morris by featuring a series of excerpts of his work.  He will be joined on stage by the Washington Post’s chief film critic Ann Hornaday to discuss his career.  His films include A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME (1991); FAST, CHEAP AND OUT OF CONTROL (1997); THE FOG OF WAR: ELEVEN LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF ROBERT S. MCNAMARA (2003); GATES OF HEAVEN (1978); STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE (2009); THE THIN BLUE LINE (1988); and VERNON, FLORIDA (1981).

WHO:           Errol Morris, Filmmaker
                    Ann Hornaday, Film Critic at The Washington Post, Moderator
                    Bob Gazzale, President & CEO, American Film Institute
                     Sky Sitney, Festival Director
WHEN:         Friday, June 21, 2013
                    5:30 p.m.  Press Check-in
                    5:45 p.m.  Photo Opportunity
                    6:00 p.m.  Screening and Discussion

WHERE:       National Archives, 700 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC

Space is limited for screening.  All media may not be accommodated.  Media wishing to attend the screening or red carpet arrivals should RSVP to Molly Ellison at

American Airlines, the official airline of AFI, is a proud sponsor of AFI Docs presented by Audi.


11:00 a.m. Filmmakers Amy Browne, Tony Hale, Jeremy Kaplan and Brian Wilson present A WILL FOR THE WOODS.  As lymphoma thwarts all attempts at treatment, Clark Wang makes his funeral plans.  Rather than preserve his body with toxic chemicals, his last wish is for a “green” burial.  Environmental preservation takes on a poignant intimacy in this touching portrait of a multi-faceted, ebullient advocate and his final legacy.  Mark Harris, an environmental journalist and the author of the most prominent book on this issue "Grave Matters," moderates a post-screening discussion with the filmmakers and subjects.

11:30 a.m. Filmmaker Camilla Magid presents the North American Premiere of WHITE BLACK BOY.  The sun is among the least of his worries for Shida, a Tanzanian boy with albinism.  Because witchdoctors believe in the mystical power of albinos’ limbs, the white-skinned are often hunted for a bounty.  WHITE BLACK BOY looks at Shida’s first year at a boarding school, where he is momentarily safe from harm.

12:00 p.m. Filmmaker Bill Siegel and subject Tom Krattenmaker present THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMAD ALI.  When charismatic fighter Cassius Clay embraced Islam and renamed himself Muhammad Ali, the boxing icon came under fire for refusing to serve in the Vietnam War.  This enlightening film examines the tumultuous period in Ali’s life that saw him forced into a legal battle with the U.S. government that almost cost him his livelihood.

12:30 p.m. In THE MACHINE WHICH MAKES EVERYTHING DISAPPEAR, a film director puts out a casting call for local townspeople in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, and the taped “auditions” become the springboard for filmmaker Tinatin Gurchiani’s portrait of contemporary Eurasian life.  As the citizens open up with surprising intimacy, the filmmaker follows some of them in their real lives with fascinating results.

1:30 p.m. On July 22, 2011, Norway experienced its deadliest attack on native soil since World War II.  Through intimate interviews with survivors of the tragedy and the families of victims, filmmaker John Appel’s powerful WRONG TIME WRONG PLACE takes a haunting look at the result of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

2:15 p.m. In RENT A FAMILY, INC., filmmaker Kaspar Astrup documents a service in Japan that provides actors to stand in for family members, their presence providing support at negotiations and filling weddings.  Struggling and depressed, Ryuichi runs one such company, sending himself to fill in for those who need family members and, in many ways, to get away from his own. East Coast Premiere.

2:15 p.m. Filmmaker Cecilia Peck and subjects Linor Abargil and Debra Little present BRAVE MISS WORLD.  Two months before she was crowned Miss World in 1998, Linor Abargil, an Israeli beauty queen, was raped in a violent attack by an acquaintance.  Ten years later she is ready to talk about her ordeal as she travels the world to hear the stories of other rape victims and help them speak out.

3:00 p.m. APPROVED FOR ADOPTION by filmmakers Jung and Laurent Boileau. Skilled Korean graphic novelist Jung was only five years old when he was adopted by a Belgian family who raised him as one of their own.  Through a mixture of live action footage and his own beautiful animation, the adult Jung shares his story of growing up in a world where he always felt different.

3:45 p.m. Filmmakers AJ Schnack and David Wilson present WE ALWAYS LIE TO STRANGERS. Branson, Missouri, is one of America's most popular tourist destinations where people from all over the country flock to enjoy a return to old-fashioned down-home wholesome entertainment.  Amid the abundance of kitschy stage and music shows are an eclectic group of talented performers who have dedicated themselves to the show business Mecca of the Midwest.  Come meet the colorful people who call Branson home and must cope with an uncertain future as the town faces economic adversity.

4:30 p.m. Filmmakers Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman present REMOTE AREA MEDICAL. People wait for more than a day outside the Bristol Motor Speedway, lining up not for tickets but for necessary medical and dental procedures that are otherwise beyond their means.  Telling stories from those who rely on the clinics, REMOTE AREA MEDICAL serves as a sobering look at life for the uninsured.

5:00 p.m. Filmmaker Dawn Porter and co-producer Summer Damon present GIDEON’S ARMY. In this smart, insightful documentary, Porter sheds light on the plight of one of our country’s most valuable and unsung warriors: the public defender.  Following a small group of dedicated public defenders in the South, GIDEON’S ARMY highlights the daily battles they face within a flawed legal system.  Ailsa Chang, Congressional reporter NPR's Washington Desk, moderates a post-screening discussion with the filmmakers and special guests.

5:15 p.m. Filmmaker Grace Lee presents AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY: THE EVOLUTION OF GRACE LEE BOGGS.  Lee set out in search of other Asian American women bearing the same name and found Grace Lee Boggs, a 97-year-old Chinese American philosopher, activist and force of nature whose remarkable life and work traversed the major social movements of the last century and warranted a film of her own.

6:30 p.m. Filmmaker Dan Krauss and subjects Eric Montalvo and Dr. Stephen Xenakis present THE KILL TEAM. A powerful portrait of wartime atrocities and the men who commit them, this riveting film focuses on an American platoon in Afghanistan who waged a campaign of terror against the Afghani civilians they were sworn to protect.   A chilling look at the madness of war that very few will forget.

6:45 p.m. Filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite presents BLACKFISH.  When SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau was mauled to death by a “killer whale,” the tragedy was dismissed as a freak accident.  In actuality, it was one of many such violent incidents between well-meaning trainers and wild orcas living in captivity.  BLACKFISH takes an unflinching look at the disturbing practices that keep marine parks in business.

7:30 p.m. Filmmaker Lucy Walker presents THE CRASH REEL.  A mere two months before the 2010 Winter Olympics, game-changing pro snowboarder Kevin Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury that derailed his life, career and a much-anticipated rivalry with competitor Shaun White.  Oscar®-nominee Lucy Walker’s engaging, intimate portrayal of Pearce’s recuperation explores the understated heroism of a recovering champion.

8:00 p.m. Filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas presents the World Premiere of DOCUMENTED.  In 2011, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in The New York Times Magazine.  DOCUMENTED chronicles the aftermath as he travels around the country as an immigration reform activist and provocateur, lands a historic Time magazine cover story; and unexpectedly re-connects with his mother in the Philippines, whom he hasn't seen in nearly 20 years.  Juan Williams, political analyst for Fox News Channel, moderates a post-screening discussion with the filmmaker and other members of the production team.

8:45 p.m. Filmmaker Lotfy Nathan presents 12 O’CLOCK BOYS.  Cruising recklessly through the streets of Baltimore, notorious dirt bike gang, the 12 O’Clock Boys, are heroes to some and a menace to others.  Director Lotfy Nathan’s debut feature follows a young boy named Pug over the course of several years as he strives to be accepted into their world.

9:00 p.m. Filmmaker Zachary Heinzerling presents CUTIE AND THE BOXER. When Noriko moved to New York City, her plans to study art were derailed by love.  Now, 40 years into her marriage to Ushio, a painter many years her senior, Noriko seeks her own artistic identity as her 80-year-old husband struggles to establish his legacy.  This is a poignant portrait of marriage, sacrifice, aging and dedication.

10:15 p.m. Filmmaker Tom Berninger presents MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS.  This hilarious film follows indie band The National on the road for a year through the eyes of singer Matt Berninger’s bumbling brother, Tom.  As tensions boil, the film Tom meant to make falls apart, and what evolves is a touching, authentic, and delightfully wry portrait of two brothers who could not be more different.

About AFI DOCS presented by Audi
AFI DOCS presented by Audi (formerly Silverdocs) is an internationally recognized event that honors excellence in filmmaking, supports the diverse voices and free expression of independent storytellers and celebrates the power of documentary to improve our understanding of the world.  Now in its 11th year, the festival is embarking on a transformational chapter in its history with an expansion into landmark Washington, DC venues and with the AFI Catalyst Sessions which serve as stimuli for national public discourse and an opportunity to engage our nations leaders with filmmakers striving to shine a light on the greatest issues of today.  The festival historically has attracted over 27,000 documentary enthusiasts, policy-makers and thought leaders.  Visit and connect on, and

About the American Film Institute
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 provides leadership in film, television and digital media and is dedicated to initiatives that engage the past, the present and the future of the moving image arts.  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 41st 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, 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 presented by Audi and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center; and educating the next generation of storytellers at the world renowned AFI Conservatory, renowned for the quality of its instructors and speakers, and its notable alumni. 

For more information about AFI, visit or connect with AFI at, and

About Audi
Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles.  AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands globally.  Audi was a top-performing luxury brand in Europe during 2012, and broke all-time company sales records in the U.S.  Through 2016, AUDI AG will invest about $17 billion on new products, facilities and technologies.  Visit or for more information regarding Audi vehicle and business issues.