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.


The Spotlight Screening of E-TEAM

Three AFI Catalyst Screenings

The Second Annual Policy Engagement Program on Capitol Hill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, WASHINGTON, DC, Thursday, June 19, 2014 – AFI DOCS presents a full schedule of events that includes the festival’s Spotlight Screening of E-TEAM, directed by Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman; three AFI Catalyst Screenings dedicated to public discourse and the second annual Policy Engagement Program, which brings filmmakers to the U.S. Capitol Building.  These events and festival screenings further AFI DOCS’ goal to bring filmmakers, our nation’s leaders and audiences together in the heart of Washington, DC.

WHAT:         E-TEAM 

With international conflicts raging, Human Rights Watch sends its specially-trained Emergencies Team to the frontlines of Syria and Libya to document human rights abuses and capture the world’s attention. These courageous and fiercely dedicated individuals regularly risk their lives to report on atrocities that would otherwise go undocumented.

WHO:              Katy Chevigny, Filmmaker, Producer

                       Ross Kauffman, Filmmaker, Producer

                       Michael Hirsh, Politico Magazine

                       Carroll Bogert, Human Rights Watch and Film Subject

WHEN:             Thursday, June 19, 2014

                        6:15 p.m. Press Check-in

              6:45 p.m. Photo Opportunity

              7:00 p.m. Screening

WHERE:            National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F Sts NW, Washington, DC

Space is limited for the screening and reception.  All media may not be accommodated.  Media must RSVP to Christina Lee at attend the screening or red carpet arrivals.


10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.  Festival filmmakers will meet with senior policymakers across many disciplines at the U.S. Capitol. The program will include a strategic overview of impact points in the policymaking process, advice on how to engage leaders in different sectors and case studies of films that have influenced public policies including THE INVISIBLE WAR and SEMPER FI. It will help identify opportunities for filmmakers to increase the impact of their own films by building relationships with political leaders and organizations. Photos and a recap will be made available for download in the pressroom of


1:15 p.m. SHORTS PROGRAM 1: FACE THE MUSIC featuring: SATI, BEYOND RECOGNITION, AMANDA F***ING PALMER ON THE ROCKS, A PARADISE, FAST ICE: RESCUE FROM ANTARCTICA.  Expected guests include BEYOND RECOGNITION Director Sam Thonis, Stephen Greenwood, Producer, Samantha Mason, Senior Rights Specialist and Katie Drummond, Editorial Lead; FAST ICE Director Laurence Topham; A PARADISE Director Jayisha Patel; and SATI Director Bartek Swiderski. This screening is sponsored by The Embassy of the Republic of Poland.

1:30 p.m. KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON

Jazz trumpet legend Clark Terry has performed with such greats as Count Basie and Duke Ellington and acted as mentor to Miles Davis and Quincy Jones. When he meets blind piano prodigy Justin Kaulflin, Terry works with him to pass on some of his musical gift and help Kaulflin find his own voice. Expected guests include Director Alan Hicks and film subject Justin Kauflin.

1:30 p.m. 1971

In March of 1971, a break-in occurred at an FBI field office outside of Philadelphia, PA, that resulted in the theft of every single document contained within it.  The true nature of what was discovered within those files would soon prove to be more shocking than the very crime itself. The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty will moderate a panel including film Director Johanna Hamilton; and subjects Betty Medsger, John Raines, Bonnie Raines, Fritz Schwartz, and Carl Stern. This screening is sponsored by The Washington Post.

1:30 p.m. SHORTS PROGRAM 2: GONE HOLLYWOOD featuring: RONALD, THE PHOTO MAN, SHOWFOLK, THE CHILEAN ELVIS, CHERRY POP: THE STORY OF THE WORLD’S FANCIEST CAT, THE SECRET WORLD OF FOLEY. Expected guests include CHERRY POP director Kareem Tabsch and Producer/editor Joey Daoud; CHILEAN ELVIS Director Marcelo Kiwi Beiger; SHOWFOLK Executive Producer Jennifer Clymer; and THE SECRET WORLD OF FOLEY Director Daniel Jewel.

1:30 p.m. SILENCED

The term “whistleblower” is usually attached to controversy, and those who expose misconduct within an organization often stand to lose everything. Filmmaker James Spione looks at the post-9/11 crackdown on those who attempt to lift the veil on U.S. national security practices and the devastating costs that come with telling the truth. Dana Priest of The Washington Post will moderate a discussion with Director James Spione. This screening is sponsored by The Washington Post.

1:45 p.m.  SHORTS PROGRAM 3: ODDS AND ENDS featuring: YOU WON’T REGRET THAT TATTOO, 21 DAYS, THE VISIT, LOUIS THE FERRIS WHEEL KID, WILD BOAR. Expected guests include 21 DAYS Director Damian Kocur and film subject Michal Romanowicz; THE VISIT Director Matej Bobrik; WILD BOAR Director Willem Baptist; YOU WON'T REGRET THAT TATTOO Director Angie Bird and Executive Producer, Michelle Woodward. This screening is sponsored by The Embassy of the Republic of Poland.

3:45 p.m. THE DOG

Based on true events, the classic film DOG DAY AFTERNOON tells the story of a bank robbery gone awry. Combining present-day interviews and archival footage, THE DOG introduces us to John Wojtowicz – the real-life inspiration for Al Pacino's character – while presenting a fascinating snapshot of New York City's LGBT liberation movement of the 1970s. Expected guests include filmmakers Frank Keraudren and Allison Berg.


Some international skirmishes happen far from battlefields. They take place in quiet negotiating rooms. Yet no matter how unassuming those spaces may be, the players can be just as immovable as their armed equivalents. THE AGREEMENT takes viewers into one such discussion: the high-stakes Serbia-Kosovo negotiations to make Serbia’s EU candidacy possible. Expected guests include OF MANY filmmaker Linda G. Mills, Producer Danielle Emery, Artistic Director Peter Goldrich, and film subjects Khalid Latif and Yehuda Sarna. This screening is sponsored by The Royal Danish Embassy.

4:00 p.m. WE ARE THE GIANT

The recent Arab Spring uprisings were often organized by young people who embraced the tools of social media to communicate and call for lasting change within their governments. This powerful and inspiring film talks to some of these young activists to discover what drives them forward despite great personal risk. Expected guests include filmmaker Greg Barker and co-Producer Razan Ghalayini.


In 2009, the FBI uncovered a Muslim terror cell plotting to attack a synagogue and U.S. military aircraft. Closer analysis, including FBI hidden-camera footage, raises substantive doubts: were these four men tenacious terrorists or merely hapless targets of entrapment caught up in a post-9/11 hunt for “red meat” to mollify a traumatized nation?  Expected to participate in the post-screening discussion are co-directors Kate Davis and David Heilbroner; moderator Mark Leibovich, Chief National Correspondent, New York Times Magazine; Nihad Awad, Executive Director and Founder, Council on American - Islamic Relations; Salam al-Marayati, President, Muslim Public Affairs Council; Sam Braverman, film subject and attorney; and Mike German, Brennan Center for Justice Fellow.


Ukraine’s feminist group FEMEN creates quite a stir when the women demonstrate topless across European borders to protest against the patriarchal regime in their native country. As the protests gain international attention, however, questions grow as to whom is the real driving force behind these outspoken women and their campaign for change.

4:15 p.m. IVORY TOWER

Over the past 30 years the cost of higher education has increased at an alarming rate along with the mounting burden of student loan debt needed to fund a traditional college experience. Filmmaker Andrew Rossi probes the future of higher education and investigates alternatives to the traditional four-year university. Expected to participate in the post-screening discussion are filmmaker Andrew Rossi; Anthony Carnevale, Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University; Jeff Selingo, author, College (Un)Bound and contributing editor, The Chronicle of Higher Education; and moderator Christine Romans, EARLY START (CNN).

6:15 p.m. THE FIX

After years of heroin addiction, a young father from the Bronx tries to turn his life around. With the support of former junkies in his community, he works towards creating effective solutions to help empower those fighting the deadly grasp of drug addiction. Expected guests include filmmaker Laura Naylor, DP/Editor Leland James, Music Supervisor Trey Beck, and film subject Junior Alcantara.


For decades legendary gangster James “Whitey” Bulger ruled South Boston with seemingly free reign. After spending 16 years in hiding, however, Bulger is finally put on trial to answer for his crimes. Filmmaker Joe Berlinger sheds new light on Bulger’s notorious history amid allegations of deep corruption within law enforcement. Filmmaker Joe Berlinger will be in attendance.


Much is afoot in the iconic House of Dior, as newly hired Artistic Director Raf Simons has only eight weeks to present his first haute couture collection. The unconventional Simons collaborates with Dior’s unflagging and enchanting veteran atelier seamstresses, marking the auspicious arrival of a formidable fashion persona. DIOR AND I filmmaker Frederic Tcheng will be in attendance. This screening is sponsored by The Wall Street Journal.


High School can be tough under any circumstances, but what if there is the added burden of having no consistent place to call home? This powerful film follows three homeless teens – Kasey, Anthony and Roque – as they share their struggles and victories while navigating their way through the Chicago Public School system. Director/Producers Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly will be in attendance with film subects Anthony Lynch, Maria Rivera, Roque Sanchez, Kasey White, Associate Producers Elizabeth Hemmerdinger and Will Thwaites and Impact Producer Erin Sorenson. This screening is sponsored by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).


At 13, Aaron Swartz co-authored the Web’s RSS format. His passion to liberate information ended tragically when a disconsolate Swartz killed himself at 26 while facing federal charges regarding his attempt to replicate a proprietary database. Swartz’s inspiring life saga celebrates extraordinary accomplishment and laments the stinging absence of an unswerving visionary. Expected to participate in the post-screening discussion are moderator Cecilia Kang, The Washington Post; filmmaker Brian Knappenberger; David Segal, Demand Progress; and Ben Wikler, host of The Good Fight. This screening is sponsored by The Washington Post.


In 1955, passionate newlyweds Alfred and Jakobine bought a beat-up old taxi cab and embarked on a memorable trip around the world. When Alfred abruptly left the marriage, it left Jakobine heartbroken. Forty years later, Alfred decides to restore their old taxi and deliver it to Jakobine as a surprise. Filmmaker Jonathan Howells will be in attendance.

9:00 p.m. VIRUNGA

In the DRC exists Africa’s oldest national park containing the last natural habitat for endangered mountain gorillas. As civil unrest grows within the Congo, a British oil company pursues efforts to drill within the park. VIRUNGA highlights the small number of dedicated individuals fighting to secure the park’s borders. Director Orlando von Einsiedel and Producer Joanna Natasegara will be in attendance.


One of the most popular dishes in Chinese restaurants in America is the deep fried, slightly spicy dish known as General Tso’s Chicken. But who exactly is General Tso, and why is this menu item named after him? Filmmaker Ian Cheney takes us on a mouth-watering journey to the root of this amusing mystery. THE SEARCH FOR GENERAL TSO filmmaker Ian Cheny and MI HUA GAO (OR THE RICE KRISPIES SQUARE) filmmaker Justin Nagy will be in attendance.


In 2005, the gifted Scottish musician, Edwyn Collins, suffered two devastating cerebral hemorrhages that left him with large gaps in his memory and trouble with the most basic language. This inventive film artfully puts the viewer inside Collins’ experience as he fights back from the brink of death. Director James Hall will be in attendance.

AT&T is the presenting sponsor of AFI DOCS 2014.  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.  Additional major sponsors include ABC News, Center for Public Broadcasting, Stephanie and Hunter Hunt and Stella Artois.

About AT&T Inc.

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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 PR, 301.651.5152 or

Sarah Ledesma, American Film Institute, 323.856.7871 or