Saturday, May 25, 2019
  • Friday, May. 4, 2018
"Personal Statement," "United Skates" To Open, Close AFI DOCS 2018
A scene from "United Skates," the closing night film for AFI DOCS 2018
  • WASHINGTON, D.C.
  • --

AFI DOCS has announced its Opening and Closing Night films, and Centerpiece and Special Screenings. For its 16th edition, the American Film Institute’s annual celebration of documentary film in the nation’s capital will open with the world premiere of Personal Statement (directors Juliane Dressner and Edwin Martinez) and will close with United Skates (directors Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown).

This year’s program also includes Above And Beyond: NASA’s Journey To Tomorrow (director Rory Kennedy) as the Centerpiece. The four Special Screenings will be the world premiere of The Cold Blue (director Erik Nelson), Kinshasa Makambo (director Dieudo Hamadi), Mr. Soul! (directors Sam Pollard and Melissa Haizlip) and Witkin & Witkin (director Trisha Ziff). The full slate will be announced in the coming weeks. AFI DOCS runs June 13–17, 2018, in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, MD.

“We are at a cultural crossroads where identity, race and personal agency are redefining what it is to be American in 2018,” said Michael Lumpkin, director, AFI Festivals. “With Personal Statement, United Skates and this year’s Centerpiece and Special Screenings, AFI DOCS will continue its legacy of introducing new perspectives to audiences, while challenging longstanding conventions.”

AT&T’s ongoing support for the fifth straight as presenting sponsor enables AFI DOCS to connect audiences, policymakers and storytellers in the heart of our national government.

The Opening Night screening of Personal Statement will be held on June 13 at the Newseum and will be followed by a Q&A with directors Dressner and Martinez. The film centers on three Brooklyn high school seniors who, lacking support services at school, band together to help each other get into college.

The Closing Night screening of United Skates will be held on June 17 at the Landmark E Street Cinema and will be followed by a Q&A with directors Winkler and Brown. The film chronicles the fight to save roller-skating rinks, which have played a critical role in modern African-American culture.

The Centerpiece screening of Above And Beyond: NASA’s Journey To Tomorrow will take place at the National Air and Space Museum. As NASA heads into its 60th anniversary, filmmaker Kennedy looks back at the men and women who have built the institution, and whose boundless curiosity drives scientific progress forward.

OPENING NIGHT SCREENING

PERSONAL STATEMENT: DIRS Juliane Dressner and Edwin Martinez. USA. Karoline, Enoch and Christine are Brooklyn high school seniors who just want to go to college, but lack the resources most American teens take for granted, including guidance counselors. Refusing to give up, they learn to counsel each other, and carry their classmates with them as they pursue their dreams.

CLOSING NIGHT SCREENING

UNITED SKATES: DIRS Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown. USA. Roller-skating has played a critical role in modern African-American culture, with rinks serving as both a haven of community and of artistic expression, and a flashpoint in the civil rights movement. UNITED SKATES chronicles the fight to save these rinks, and the souls of communities nationwide.

CENTERPIECE SCREENING

ABOVE AND BEYOND: NASA’S JOURNEY TO TOMORROW: DIR Rory Kennedy. USA. Rory Kennedy tells the stories of the women and men behind the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s decades-long exploration of our solar system, our universe and our planet, in this enlightening film that celebrates NASA’s triumphs, mourns its tragedies and affirms the importance of its mission both in space and on Earth.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

THE COLD BLUE: DIR Erik Nelson. USA. In 1943, legendary Hollywood director William Wyler crafted MEMPHIS BELLE, a celebrated tribute to the titular WWII bomber. Using footage of the film from the National Archives, THE COLD BLUE features gripping narration from some of the last surviving B-17 pilots. A meditation on youth, war and stunning bravery.

KINSHASA MAKAMBO: DIR Dieudo Hamadi. Democratic Republic of the Congo. Amid the backdrop of seemingly never-ending political and social unrest that hangs over the Democratic Republic of the Congo, three young activists take to the streets with their fellow countrymen to overthrow their country’s President and help enact much needed change in their politically beleaguered country.

MR. SOUL!: DIRS Sam Pollard and Melissa Haizlip. USA. An in-depth look at the late 1960s WNET public television series SOUL! and its producer Ellis Haizlip. The series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement.

WITKIN & WITKIN: DIR Trisha Ziff. Mexico. The artwork of septuagenarian twins Joel-Peter and Jerome Witkin transcends genres and traditional form. WITKIN & WITKIN explores the brothers’ complicated relationship with one another, while examining depths and divisions in their work. Joel-Peter’s stunning photography and Jerome’s powerful figurative paintings distinctly capture the human condition, reflecting differing emotional and intellectual approaches.

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