Your Guide to the Women Filmmakers at AFI DOCS 2020 – American Film Institute

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Your Guide to the Women Filmmakers at AFI DOCS 2020

Brought to you by Audi of America

AFI DOCS is proud to have Audi return as a sponsor of the 2020 festival. Through the Audi Fellowship for Women at the AFI Conservatory and continuous support for AFI Film Festivals throughout the year, Audi is thrilled to work with women filmmakers to help share their stories. Audi applauds all women filmmakers at this year’s AFI DOCS and is proud to present this quick guide to the films directed by women, screening online from June 17-21.

The 18th edition of AFI DOCS is showcasing 59 films, 61% of which are directed by women. The 36 films directed by women explore diverse subjects and themes, including gender norms in parenting, gun violence, civil and voting rights issue, gender identity and equality, reproductive rights, press freedom and unconscious bias. These documentaries take the viewer to cities around the nation and countries around the world – from Minneapolis and Philadelphia to the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Pakistan, to name a few.

Join Audi in celebrating the work of these women directors. Below is the full list of the 36 films directed by women in the Cinema’s Legacy, Episodic, Feature Films, Shorts and Special Presentations sections. Passes and tickets are now available on DOCS.AFI.com.

Select Below to View Films Directed by Women by Section:

Cinema’s Legacy

Episodic

Feature Films

Short Films

Special Presentations

 

CINEMA’S LEGACY

FREEDOM ON MY MIND

Co-directed by Connie Field, Marilyn Mulford

A powerful account of the Mississippi Voter Registration Project and the black activists and white allies who, from 1961 to 1964, descended upon the South determined to register black voters.

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SISTERS OF ’77

Co-directed by Cynthia Salzman Mondell, Allen Mondell

In 1977, over the course of four days, approximately 20,000 women congregated in Houston, Texas, to debate what would become the guiding principles of gender equality in politics.

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EPISODIC

AND SHE COULD BE NEXT

Co-directed by Grace Lee, Marjan Safinia

AND SHE COULD BE NEXT follows the historic and dramatic stories of six women of color who seek political office and fight to uplift disenfranchised communities.

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THE VOTE

Directed by Michelle Ferrari

A comprehensive and captivating look at the 72-year struggle that culminated in permanently enfranchising women with the right to vote and establishing voting as a right integral to democracy.

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FEATURE FILMS

9TO5: THE STORY OF A MOVEMENT

Co-directed by Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar

9TO5: THE STORY OF A MOVEMENT follows the 9to5 movement, from humble beginnings in a Boston YWCA to a nationwide organization so energized it inspired the iconic song and film.

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BULLY. COWARD. VICTIM. THE STORY OF ROY COHN

Directed by Ivy Meeropol

In this searing indictment of Roy Cohn, filmmaker Ivy Meeropol exposes Cohn’s incorrigible, and unethical behavior, which led to the 1953 execution of Meeropol’s own grandparents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.

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CODED BIAS

Directed by Shalini Kantayya

An MIT Media Lab researcher discovers issues with facial recognition programs. Investigating deeper into artificial intelligence data, she discovers large gender and racial bias in software created by tech companies.

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DADS

Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard

Breaking down gender role stereotypes, Bryce Dallas Howard’s film shows a small glimpse into the wide world of men and their munchkins.

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DILEMMA OF DESIRE

Directed by Maria Finitzo

Determined to reverse society’s erasure of the clitoris, a collective of women have made it their mission to dismantle internalized sexism and dispel the discomfort and shame surrounding female sexuality.

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DOWN AND OUT IN AMERICA

Directed by Lee Grant

Years before the economic catastrophes of COVID-19 and the 2008 recession, the U.S. experienced the tumult and divisiveness of the 1980s, a period that saw the country rapidly splitting into the haves and have nots. Lee Grant’s devastating 1986 Academy Award®-winning documentary takes a compassionate, clear-eyed look at those left behind in Reagan’s America. From desperate family farmers in Minnesota to unemployed factory workers in the Midwest and homeless people forced to live in decrepit welfare hotels in Los Angeles and New York, a cruel picture emerges of a country unmoored from its basic principles and core values. But beneath the weight of such crushing hardship, Grant finds courageous people who, on the verge of losing everything, discover the power of community organizing to fight injustice and to preserve basic human dignity.

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FIRST VOTE

Directed by Yi Chen

This beguiling and refreshingly non-partisan political travelogue from Washington, DC-based filmmaker Yi Chen’s introduces us to a diverse cross section of politically engaged Chinese Americans determined to make a difference.

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THE LETTER

Co-directed by Maia Lekow, Christopher King

Fearing for his grandmother’s life, Karisa returns to his family’s village to figure out who wrote a letter accusing her of witchcraft and why.

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A THOUSAND CUTS

Directed by Ramona S. Diaz

Philippine journalist Maria Ressa finds herself in the crosshairs of President Rodrigo Duterte, who will stop at nothing to smear Ressa and the “fake news” outlet, Rappler, that she leads.

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THROUGH THE NIGHT

Directed by Loira Limbal

This intimate portrait follows the struggle and bond between two working mothers and their childcare provider, “Nunu,” who has dedicated her life to her 24-hour childcare business.

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TRANSHOOD

Directed by Sharon Liese

TRANSHOOD is director Sharon Liese’s in-depth, thoroughly captivating five-year journey following the lives of four kids discovering their specific trans experiences alongside their families.

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UNLADYLIKE2020

Directed by Charlotte Mangin, Sandra Rattley

UNLADYLIKE2020 calls into question American history as we know it, reaching back to the dawn of the twentieth century to recognize unsung female leaders and trailblazers.

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WOMEN IN BLUE

Directed by Deirdre Fishel

After a high-profile police shooting occurs, the first female police chief of Minneapolis resigns. Will her mission to increase diversity in the police department continue under new leadership?

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SHORT FILMS

ABORTION HELPLINE, THIS IS LISA

Co-directed by Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, Mike Attie

At an abortion fund in Philadelphia, counselors arrive each morning to the nonstop ring of calls from women and teens who seek to end a pregnancy but can’t afford to.

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AKASHINGA: THE BRAVE ONES

Directed by Maria Wilhelm

Single mothers, abandoned wives and survivors of sexual and domestic violence enroll in an intense training selection to join rangers protecting elephants from poachers across Africa.

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ALL THAT PERISHES AT THE EDGE OF LAND

Directed by  Hira Nabi

A decommissioned ship and the shipbreakers from all over Pakistan there to break it enter into a conversation and discover they might have more in common than otherwise imagined.

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BLACKFEET BOXING: NOT INVISIBLE

Co-directed by Kristen Lappas, Tom Rinaldi

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.

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ELEVATOR PITCH

Directed by Martyna Starosta

A depiction of New York’s subway as an absurd obstacle course – revealing a system that shuts many out of a city in motion.

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FLOWER PUNK

Directed by Alison Klayman

Japanese artist Azuma Makoto sends his floral sculptures into space and sinks them to the bottom of the ocean, but mostly, he thinks about the life and death of flowers.

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LAKE

Directed by Alexandra Lazarowich

Shot on 16mm and in a vérité lens, LAKE shares a contemporary portrait of Métis women net fishing in Northern Alberta.

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MEMOIRS OF VEGETATION

Directed by Jessica Oreck

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

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MIZUKO

Directed by Kira Dane, Katelyn Rebelo

In Japanese Buddhism, there is a post-abortion grieving ritual called ‘water child memorial.’ Inspired by this ritual, a half-Japanese American woman reexamines abortion ethics after becoming pregnant herself.

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MOTHER

Co-directed by Jas Pitt, Kate Stonehill

A young dancer from a Rio de Janeiro favela finds acceptance through their vogueing family, the art of Ballroom, and their relationship with their vogueing mother, Makayla.

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THE PAINT WIZZARD

Co-directed by Jessie Auritt, Jessica Wolfson

Millie, a transgender housepainter living and working out of her bright yellow RV in Austin, Texas, gained the courage to come out as her true self at age 58.

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PAMPAS

Directed by Jessica BishoppA hybrid documentary exploring sexual signaling and urban legends about how plants were used in 1970s suburbia to send seductive signals to neighbors, or so rumor has it.

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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.

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SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

BOYS STATE

Co-directed by Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss

A diverse group of teenage boys spend the week in a mock government civics program in Austin, Texas. Filled with political ambition, the boys strategize platforms and campaign for governor.

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THE FIGHT

Co-directed by Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres

A cast of courageous lawyers at the ACLU fights an uphill battle against the numerous rollbacks on civil rights put forward in the first years of the Trump presidency.

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JIMMY CARTER ROCK & ROLL PRESIDENT

Directed by Mary Wharton

American presidential politics changed forever when Jimmy Carter forged a tight and strategically important bond with musicians Willie Nelson, the Allman Brothers, Bob Dylan and others.

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PORTRAITS AND DREAMS

Co-directed by Elizabeth Barret, Wendy Ewald

Photographer Wendy Ewald revisits the people and places in rural Kentucky that 35 years ago sparked her landmark collaboration, “Portraits and Dreams: Photographs and Stories by Children of the Appalachians.”

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