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‘After Parkland,’ ‘American Factory’ Among Lineup for AFI Docs Festival

The American Film Institute on Wednesday revealed a full lineup for the AFI Docs 2019 Film Festival, its annual five-day documentary festival featuring 72 films from 17 countries and six world premieres.

Opening the festival is True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality, directed by Peter, George and Teddy Kunhardt, which follows Stevenson’s research into slavery, segregation and mass incarceration and his subsequent founding of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama.

This year’s centerpiece film will be American Factory, helmed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, which examines the cultural aftermath of a Chinese billionaire’s takeover of a factory in Ohio.

To close the festival, Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins will screen, from director Janice Engel. The documentary follows the life of political commentator and Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Molly Ivins, who died in 2007.

Included in the “Truth and Justice” category is After Parkland, investigating the grief and resilience of survivors of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. Jake Lefferman and Emily Taguchi co-direct the film.

Commenting on the lineup, AFI Festivals director Michael Lumpkin said in a statement, “Each year, the AFI Docs slate includes a variety of films exploring topical issues, intriguing personalities and compelling voices. 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.” 

Lumpkin added, “We are happy to announce that 48 percent of this year’s slate is directed by women, with 68 percent produced by women.”

Among the female directors who have projects in the festival are Tamara Hardman with In My Blood it Runs, Jenifer McShane with Ernie & Joe, Jacqueline Olive with Always in Season and Beth Aala with Made in Boise.

An American Family: Anniversary Edition heads up the “Cinema’s Legacy” section, telling the story of The Louds — billed as America’s first reality-TV family.

In the “Anthem” category, Gay Chorus Deep SouthLinda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice and Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool are among the entries. 

Now in its 17th year, the AFI Docs festival will take place June 19-23 at multiple venues in Washington, D.C. and Silver Spring, Md.

The advisory board includes directors Spike Lee, Barbara Kopple and Werner Herzog, who is set to receive a lifetime honor from the European Film Academy later this year.

Tickets to the festival are currently available to AFI members and the general public.

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