“American Factory”, “Chasing the Moon” among titles screening at AFI Docs ’19

Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s American Factory and Robert Stone‘s Chasing the Moon are among the titles slated to screen as part of the 17th annual AFI Docs festival from the ...
May 15, 2019

Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s American Factory and Robert Stone‘s Chasing the Moon are among the titles slated to screen as part of the 17th annual AFI Docs festival from the American Film Institute.

The Washington DC-set documentary festival and conference will showcase 72 films from 17 countries – including six world premieres, two U.S. premieres and one North American premiere – over the course of five days.

Projects from women creatives dominate this year’s festival selections, with 68% of the slate featuring films from female producers and 48% directed by women.

“Each year, the AFI Docs slate includes a variety of films exploring topical issues, intriguing personalities and compelling voices,” said AFI Festivals director Michael Lumpkin in a statement. “This year’s festival offers audiences a chance to discover new perspectives on familiar topics and unique stories they may be hearing for the first time — demonstrating the power of documentary film to connect and inspire across a diverse range of subjects.”

Bognar and Reichert’s American Factory (pictured) will serve as this year’s Centerpiece Gala film, screening on June 21. The project examines the culture clash resulting from the takeover of a Dayton, Ohio, factory by a Chinese company.

As previously announced, Peter Kunhardt, George Kunhardt and Teddy Kunhardt‘s True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s First for Equality (HBO) will open the 2019 AFI Docs festival, with director Janice Engel‘s Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins serving as closing night film.

Special Screenings, meanwhile, will include the world premiere of Stone’s Chasing the Moon, which utilizes unseen archival footage to chronicle America’s race to the moon 50 years after Neil Armstrong’s first lunar walk; a sneak preview of Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock’s Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words, offering an intimate profile of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s full life, views and career; Richard Ladkani’s Sea of Shadows, spotlighting the nearly extinct vaquita, the world’s smallest whale, whose habitat is being destroyed by Mexican cartels and Chinese mafia; and Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, which paints a portrait of the seminal writer through intimate interviews with Morrison herself, cultural icons and critics.

World premiering films at the festival include Who Killed Garrett Phillips? (Truth and Justice), a two-part documentary from Academy Award-nominated director Liz Garbus that examines the murder of 12-year-old Garrett Phillips; Beth Aala’s Made In Boise (Spectrum), which profiles four surrogate mothers and the biological parents of the babies they carry; AJ Schnack and Nathan Truesdell’s Lightning Vs Thunder (Short Film Selections), profiling the unlikely friendship between an eight-year-old girl and an Afghanistan war veteran; and Olivia Loomis Merrion’s Quilt Fever (Short Film Selections), which documents the Quilt Week event in Paducah, Kentucky.

U.S. documentary debuts at the festival come in the form of Tamara Hardman’s In My Blood It Runs (Truth and Justice), and Pia Hellenthal’s Searching Eva (Portrait).

Finally, Raúl O. Paz Pastrana’s Border South (Frontera Sur) will enjoy its North American premiere in the festival’s Truth and Justice tract.

Also joining the festival are films from notable documentarians including Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman‘s Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, Roger Ross Williams’ The Apollo, Monica Long Ross and Clayton Brown‘s We Believe in Dinosaurs, Martha Shane and Ian Cheney‘s Picture Character, Victor Kossakovsky’s Aquarela, Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance’s Slay the Dragon, Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhanig’s One Child Nation, Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim‘s The Great Hack, Avi Belkin’s Mike Wallace Is Here, Luke Lorentzen’s Midnight Family, and Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’ For Sama, .

The full festival lineup can be found on the AFI Docs’ website.

AFI DOCS 2019 runs June 19 to 23 in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, Maryland.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.