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.


Tickets Now Available for Catalyst Screenings with Filmmakers and Policy Leaders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Monday, June 16, 2014, Washington, DC – AFI DOCS announced details today for the AFI DOCS Filmmaker Enrichment Program, a series of professional development sessions which embody the mandate of the festival – to bring together the nation’s leaders and the nation’s leading artists.

The new program includes both a Policy Engagement Series — an opportunity for festival filmmakers to meet with congressional and federal agency staff and Impact Panels dedicated to helping filmmakers amplify their message within stakeholder communities. 

Also announced today are details for the AFI DOCS Catalyst Screenings.  These are film screenings followed by discussions on diverse subjects  – homeless youth seeking an education, skyrocketing college tuition and government overreach. Tickets to the AFI DOCS Catalyst Screenings are now available.

“AFI’s Filmmaker Enrichment Program is our commitment to bring opportunities to artists that are unique to our location in Washington,” said Christine O’Malley, AFI DOCS 2014 Festival Director.  “This year’s program will allow intimate conversations to take place not only between filmmakers and film industry experts but also with policymakers and influencers.”

In addition to the Filmmaker Enrichment Program, The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands will host a roundtable discussion for women filmmakers.  The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands and CNN Films also will host networking receptions for festival artists.



This second annual AFI DOCS program held at the U.S. Capitol will give festival filmmakers a behind-the-scenes look at how Washington really works and how films can have an impact. Filmmakers will have the opportunity to engage with senior policymakers across many disciplines. 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 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.


Invited documentarians from across the United States will join festival filmmakers to participate in panel discussions dedicated to helping them as artists navigate the film industry.  Film distribution executives, funders and nonprofits will advise filmmakers on effectively reaching the broadest audience possible.

presented by the International Documentary Association
When:  Thursday, June 19, 2014, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Where: Naval Heritage Center – Presidents Room 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
 Washington, DC

In conversation with two filmmaking teams, the top doc impact funder and a leading strategist, lead “live” case studies.  Fledgling Fund’s Emily Verellen moderates a panel exploring the campaign around DOCUMENTED, a film by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas, which premiered at AFI DOCS 2013. Strategist Patricia Finneran - BULLY, HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE - leads a discussion with producers/directors Robin Blotnick and Rachel Lears applying the brand new BRITDOC Impact Learning Modules to THE HAND THAT FEEDS, the story of low-wage workers organizing for change, which is already causing a stir. 

sponsored by Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)
When: Friday, June 20, 2014, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Where: Naval Heritage Center – Presidents Room 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
 Washington, DC

Engagement strategists share how public media content sparks dialogue and makes social impact. Panelists are Tamara Gould (moderator), Senior Vice President, National Productions and Strategic Partnerships, Independent Television Service (ITVS); Rich Homberg, President/CEO, Detroit Public Television; Eliza Licht, POV, Vice President, Community Engagement & Education; Heidi Nel, Principal, Picture Motion; Lauren Prestileo, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, Series Manager; Duong Chi-Do, Director of Engagement & Education, ITVS; and Felicia Pride, Writer/Producer, Founder and Chief Content Officer, Pride Collaborative.


Open to ticketholders, these powerful films, truthfully told, can serve as catalysts for artists and political leaders to confront the most critical issues of our day.  AFI DOCS offers a platform to extend the issues highlighted in the films into a live forum for discussion, debate and understanding.  Discussions run 40 minutes immediately following the screening.

Thursday, June 19, 2014
4:00 p.m. at the National Portrait Gallery

THE NEWBURGH STING DIRS Kate Davis, David Heilbroner.  USA.  Just 60 miles north of New York City sits the poverty-stricken town of Newburgh, where, in 2009, four men were arrested for a plan to bomb two Jewish centers in the Bronx. But their leader, a suspicious Pakistani businessman planted by the government as an informant, led these men straight into the hands of the authorities.

Join co-directors Kate Davis and David Heilbroner for a post-screening discussion with 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.

4:15 p.m. at the Naval Heritage Center
IVORY TOWER DIR Andrew Rossi.  USA.  

IVORY TOWER questions the purpose of higher education in an era when the price of college has increased more than that of any other service in the U.S. economy since 1978. While many college graduates struggle to find menial employment waiting tables and cleaning toilets, new student loans over the next 10 years will total $184 billion. Even the once-heroic, tuition-free holdout Cooper Union in New York City now charges students, thanks in large part to hedge-fund loans and flashy facilities costing more than $170 million. Filmmaker Andrew Rossi reveals the moment in history when the United States, long regarded as the epicenter of higher education, embraced a business model promoting property expansion over quality learning. Through interviews with Andrew Delbanco, Anya Kamenetz and internet education pioneer Daphne Koller, cofounder of the revolutionary online platform Coursera, IVORY TOWER exposes the instability of traditional college education as it searches the country for alternative forms of cost-effective learning, ranging from concepts of self-governance taught at Deep Springs College in Big Pine, California, to the unofficial hacker houses of Northern California.  Filmmaker Andrew Rossi will be joined by 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).

7:15 p.m. at the Naval Heritage Center
THE INTERNET’S OWN BOY DIR Brian Knappenberger.  USA.  

As a teenager, Aaron Swartz was a computer-programming prodigy with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. After emerging as a pioneer of Internet activism, education and politics, he was indicted on multiple federal charges in 2011 and 2012, setting off a complex chain of events that left the Internet community reeling. Shortly thereafter, at the age of 26, Swartz was found dead of an apparent suicide in his Brooklyn apartment. His family, friends and supporters immediately blamed the prosecutors of the case, who aimed to put him in jail for 35 years. Swartz was persecuted for the very rights and freedoms for which he stood, and that ultimately broke him. Weaving together home video footage and anecdotal interviews from Swartz’s closest confidants, Brian Knappenberger creates a dynamic portrait of a precocious boy who grew up to lead the Internet community into a new age of data sharing and free speech.  Cecilia Kang, The Washington Post, will moderate a discussion with filmmaker Brian Knappenberger; David Segal, Demand Progress; Ben Wikler, host of The Good Fight.

Friday, June 20, 2014
11:00 a.m. at the Naval Heritage Center
Sponsored by Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
THE HOMESTRETCH DIRS Anne de Mare, Kirsten Kelly.  USA.  

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.  Expected to participate in the post-screening discussion are filmmakers Kirsten Kelly and Anne de Mare; Maria Rivera and Anthony Lynch, film subjects; Darla Bardine, National Network for Youth; Ja’Sent Brown, Homeless Education State Coordinator, Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, DC Public Schools; and Jonathan Brice, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary & Secondary Education at the US Department of Education. This screening is sponsored by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

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.

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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 United States 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
Liza Ameen, American Film Institute, 323.856.7885 or