AFI DOCS: Your Guide to Shorts Program 4 – American Film Institute


AFI DOCS: Your Guide to Shorts Program 4

Watch the best in short nonfiction films at AFI DOCS, June 18-21. Get your ticket here.

Curated from hundreds of entries, this year’s short films highlight unique voices from around the world – presented in four programs.

Following the screening, watch a recorded discussion with the films’ directors.


BLACKFEET BOXING: NOT INVISIBLE, directed by Kristen Lappas

As the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women epidemic affects tribal communities, a group of Blackfeet women tackle the threat head-on by practicing and training in self-defense.


BROKEN ORCHESTRA, directed by Charlie Tyrell

The Symphony for a Broken Orchestra project collected hundreds of broken instruments from the Philadelphia public school system, fixed them and then returned them to the hands of students.


THE DEEPEST HOLE, directed by Matt McCormick

Cold War competitions are common knowledge, but few know the United States and Soviet Union faced off in a race to see which country could dig the deepest hole.



“I had actually been down to the bus station for one production day with a previous documentary film (TRUE CONVICTION, 2018). So I had a sense of how unusual and surreal this place was – how charged this moment was – where parolees are just getting out of prison, walking out with the few belongings they have in an orange mesh bag, and feeling all sorts of complicated emotions and dealing with the outside world in a way that shows their excitement about finally being released, but also trepidation about what’s to come.” -Director Jamie Meltzer on how he and co-director Chris Filippone were inspired to create the film

THE LOST ASTRONAUT, directed by Ben Proudfoot

In 1963, Ed Dwight Jr. was poised to be NASA’s first African-American astronaut, until suddenly he wasn’t.

Producer Abby Lynn Kang Davis on speaking with Ed Dwight Jr.,”Ed has a lot to talk about and so my interview with him was over nine hours long. It took place over two days. I just remember being amazed at his stamina. I recall in the 8th hour of the interview, the phone ringing and Ed hopping up and jogging – jogging – across his warehouse to get it. Here this guy is 86 years old and he’s jogging to get the phone. You could see how he was selected as an astronaut.”


MEMOIRS OF VEGETATION, directed by Jessica Orek

An enticing kernel of botanical intrigue that delves into the salubrious uses and nefarious misuses of castor beans throughout history.


SEE YOU NEXT TIME, directed by Crystal Kayiza

The intimate moments between a Chinese nail tech and her Black client shows how two women of color see each other in a space unlike anything else in their worlds.

Watch the best in short nonfiction films at AFI DOCS, June 18-21. Get your ticket here.

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