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Naomi Osaka, Anthony Bourdain films among AFI DOCS ’21 initial lineup

Films about Anthony Bourdain and Naomi Osaka highlight the selections unveiled Thursday (May 13) for this year’s edition of AFI DOCS. The American Film Institute’s annual documentary film festival unveiled its ...
May 13, 2021

Films about Anthony Bourdain and Naomi Osaka highlight the selections unveiled Thursday (May 13) for this year’s edition of AFI DOCS.

The American Film Institute’s annual documentary film festival unveiled its Opening Night, Closing Night and Centrepiece Films for its 19th annual edition, running this summer from June 22 to 27. The festival will include limited in-person screenings at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, MD, and a full slate of virtual screenings.

Opening this year’s festival is the world premiere of Naomi Osaka, directed by Academy Award nominee Garrett Bradley, followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker. The documentary series spans two years of Osaka’s career. The young tennis star became the first Asian player to reach the number one singles ranking after she won the U.S. Open in 2018 and finished second at the Australian Open in 2019.

AFI DOCS’ Centrepiece screening will be Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, running June 25 in commemoration of what would have been the American chef and author’s (pictured) 65th birthday. The film follows Bourdain’s rise to fame with the best-selling book Kitchen Confidential through to his work on several travel shows that combined discussions of food, politics and personal histories.

Closing out the festival June 27 is Cusp, a coming-of-age documentary that won the Emerging Filmmaker Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The film follows three teenage girls living in a small Texas town over a formative year of their lives, including intimate moments in their homes and social circles to create a portrait of adolescent girlhood. The film is directed by Parker Hill and Isabel Bethencourt.

“As the audience for AFI DOCS has expanded beyond Washington, DC, to include an entire nation of movie lovers, we are particularly proud this year to celebrate films that unite us, exploring subjects from a tennis superstar to teenagers in Texas to a Renaissance man who brought people together through a shared love of food,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI president and CEO, in a statementt.

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