AFI DOCS 2021: Festival Programming Intern Liwen Wang Picks – American Film Institute


AFI DOCS 2021: Festival Programming Intern Liwen Wang Picks

By AFI Festival Programming Intern Liwen Wang

Ten weeks have gone by, hardly a dull moment!

I’ve never quite imagined I’d be interning at a world-class film festival like AFI DOCS, let alone interacting with the festival’s programmers on a daily basis. Thanks to the fest team, my time here has been very informative and I felt very welcomed. Each week, I attended staff meetings, studied the film database, tracked festival lineups, cross-checked festival materials and a lot more. I was able to freely ask all kinds of questions and learn so much.

What’s more, this internship allowed me to look at wonderful and reflective pieces of documentaries, many of which I normally don’t get the chance to watch. Shorts, to be specific, are my new-found joy. So compact, yet impactful!

With the film festival right around corner, here are my top three picks from this year’s selection:

Developed from a class project, filmmaker Aurora Brachman and Jessie Zinn observe a workshop that aims to dismantle the systemic shame surrounding vaginas. The film’s dialogue went on to include masturbation, virginity, and female sociality. I’m especially charmed by how the workshop is not intended to be academic, but just a group of women supporting and listening to one another’s stories. Not to mention the gleaming eyes of participants, which sparks right through the screen. A lovely piece of women taking back the narrative.

Beautiful tale of a resilient woman. At Lwiro Primate Rehabilitation Sanctuary – situated in South Kivu – Mama Zawadi found herself mending the wounds of baby chimpanzees and vice versa. It aches me so bad listening to Mama Zawadi’s recollection of her earlier years. Yet when she’s mothering the orphaned chimps, the way she glows… Brilliantly captured by filmmaker Pablo de la Chica.

Filmmaker Jonas Riemer illustrates a contemplative story of a former refugee who’s now advocating for the right. Timely as it is, the film presents the man’s experience as both individual and collective. The exquisite animation is a delight to watch, as we’re following the man’s journey step by step from a bird’s-eye view. At last, I cannot help but think: what exactly is the fear he had and has?

These films are all part of Shorts Program # 3. Following the screening, watch a special conversation which includes filmmakers Aurora Brachman and Jessie Zinn (THE GALLERY THAT DESTROYS ALL SHAME), Pablo De la Chica (MAMA) and Jonas Riemer (THE ONE WHO CROSSED THE SEA) and more. Buy tickets to Shorts Program # 3 here.

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