AFI Docs Fest Slate: Whitney Houston, Bill Nye & Ronald Reagan Bios Make Cut

Whitney Houston

More than 100 documentaries from 28 countries will screen during the annual five-day AFI Docs festival next month, including Nick Broomfield/Rudi Dolezal’s Whitney Houston bio Whitney. “Can I Be Me” and the Bonni Cohen/Jon Shenk An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power.

In all, the 15th annual fest, running from June 14-18 in Washington D.C. and Silver Spring, MD, will showcase 103 films, including three world premieres, two international premieres, three North American premieres, seven U.S. premieres and five East Coast premieres.

“The 2017 slate of films reflects AFI Docs’ mission to celebrate powerfully told stories and the people at the heart of them,” said Michael Lumpkin, Director, AFI Docs. “Documentaries continue to play an important role in our country regardless of partisan lines.”

As previously announced, the East Coast premiere of Bryan Fogel’s Icarus is the opening night film, with John Dorsey’s Year of the Scab set for closing night. Both will be screened at D.C.’s Newseum. The festival will also include a roster of short films and nine virtual reality films.

This year’s Spotlight Screenings are:

Atomic Homefront, directed by Rebecca Cammisa. USA. A large landfill containing both radioactive waste and an underground fire is threatening homes, health and lives in one of our major metropolitan areas. Can a group of concerned citizens prevent a potential catastrophe? World Premiere.

Doloros, Peter Bratt. USA. This film honors activist Dolores Huerta — who fought alongside Cesar Chavez to advance labor and civil rights causes beginning in the 1960s — as she reflects on the accomplishments and sacrifices of her passionate career.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk. USA. This timely sequel to Academy Award®-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth (2006) takes up with former Vice President Al Gore and his efforts to educate the public — and those in power — about climate change and the crisis facing our planet.

Mama Colonel, Dieudo Hamadi. Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the war-torn capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the headstrong Colonel Honorine Munyole leads a mission to serve and protect the women and children of her country when no one else will. U.S. Premiere.

Mosquito, Su Rynard. Canada. MOSQUITO is an urgent exposé on humankind’s millennia-long war against one of the biggest threats to the survival of our species, and on the efforts of scientists to keep this deadly menace at bay. International Premiere.

New Chefs on the Block, Dustin Harrison-Atlas. USA. Opening a new restaurant is not for the faint of heart. Two DC-area chefs put everything on the line to open two very different establishments — Frank Linn’s Frankly…Pizza! and Aaron Silverman’s Rose’s Luxury.

The Reagan Show, Pacho Velez, Sierra Pettengill. USA. Ronald Reagan brought a host of Hollywood savvy to the White House, with his team making unprecedented use of staged moments to inform popular opinion. Whether riding horses or grappling with Gorbachev, his administration crafted the story.

Recruiting for Jihad, Adel Khan Farooq, Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen. Norway. Journalist Adel Khan Farooq gains unparalleled and unsettling access into the shrouded world of jihadism. He shadows the young Norwegian Muslim Ubaydullah Hussain — a polarizing figure — while documenting this notorious but largely unknown world. U.S. Premiere.

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, Catherine Bainbridge, Alfonso Maiorana. This rollicking and thoughtful film about the Indian role in the history of North American music celebrates the unsung Native American and First Nation musicians who helped shape rock and roll.

Tough Guys, Henry Roosevelt, W.B. Zullo. USA. Told through the colorful stories of scrappy brawlers and amateur promoters, TOUGH GUYS brings to life the birth of mixed martial arts competitions in 1980s Pittsburgh. World Premiere.

Whitney. “Can I Be Me”, Nick Broomfield, Rudi Dolezal. UK. Prolific documentarian Nick Broomfield’s latest celebrity profile, co-directed by music video helmer Rudi Dolezal, is an intimate portrait of a pop star and her tragic trajectory from supremely talented New Jersey gospel singer to iconic American chanteuse.

Among the other feature film selections are Rory Kennedy’s surfing bio Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton, the David Alvarado/Jason Sussberg film Bill Nye: Science Guy, and Dina, the Antonio Santini/Daniel Sickles film about a 49-year-old woman with autism that won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.


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