AFI DOCS is arguably the best film festival in the DC area. For a long weekend every June, there is an opportunity to see the best, most exciting work in nonfiction filmmaking. Over the years, many of the documentaries have gone on to win Academy Awards, or become audience favorites on streaming platforms. AFI DOCS 2019 edition has upped its commitment to equality: 68 percent of its slate Producers, and 48 percent of its directors are women. Here are the films that sound the most intriguing (to me, anyway):
After Parkland: A heartfelt portrait of a community using grief and anger as fuel to move forward, heal, and, for some, fight to change the world. The film shares an intimate view of survivors as they navigate their new realities in the blaring limelight and the soft light of home.
Autonomy: Executive-produced by Malcolm Gladwell, AUTONOMY explores the impact self-driving technology will have on our society. Futurist thinkers, engineers and researchers examine liability and safety concerns to who will benefit most from this technology. By reflecting on the automotive industry’s past, AUTONOMY prompts an important discussion of how Silicon Valley approaches automation and the policies we should consider during this mobility revolution.
The Great Hack: An American professor discovers that his personal data has been hacked, mined to create a digital political profile, and then weaponized. Rinse and repeat 240 million times. Academy Award nominated filmmakers Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim masterfully unravel the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal that rocked the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
One Child Nation: After becoming a first-time mother, filmmaker Nanfu Wang reflects on her childhood in China and investigates the country’s one child nation policy. From 1979 to 2015, the government enforced one-child households, favoring male babies and waging a “population war.” With co-director Jialing Zhang, Wang thoughtfully examines the multi-generational trauma caused by this tragic social experiment.
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool: With his dark shades, stylish clothes and enigmatic personality, jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis was the personification of cool. But who was he really? Drawing from a wide range of amazing source material, master filmmaker Stanley Nelson unpacks this complicated artistic genius and reveals the man behind the cool.
But that’s just a small snapshot of what AFI DOCS, running from June 19th until the 23rd, has to offer. Check this space next month for comprehensive BYT coverage of the best and worst films that this festival has to offer. Until then, check out the full list of feature documentaries here.