AFI DOCS FILM FESTIVAL AUDIENCE AWARD WINNERS: Best Feature goes to WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? Best Short goes to A CONVERSATION WITH MY BLACK SON Festival Convenes Global Filmmakers With U.S. and International Leaders – American Film Institute


AFI DOCS FILM FESTIVAL AUDIENCE AWARD WINNERS: Best Feature goes to WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? Best Short goes to A CONVERSATION WITH MY BLACK SON Festival Convenes Global Filmmakers With U.S. and International Leaders

Best Feature goes to WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?

Festival Convenes Global Filmmakers With
U.S. and International Leaders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Washington, DC, June 22, 2015 — AFI DOCS announced today its Audience Award winners, concluding the five-day festival in the Washington, DC area. This year’s Audience Award for Best Feature went to WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? directed by Liz Garbus (THE FARM: ANGOLA, USA). This year’s Audience Award for Best Short went to A CONVERSATION WITH MY BLACK SON directed by Blair Foster (TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE, co-producer) and Geeta Gandbhir (BY THE PEOPLE: THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA, editor). With 81 films from 25 countries, the festival brought together artists, national policy and opinion leaders along with global representatives.

AFI DOCS attendees included America’s greatest documentary filmmakers, including Alex Gibney, Barbara Kopple, Stanley Nelson and Morgan Neville.

National leaders in attendance included White House Cabinet Secretary and Chair of MBK Task Force Broderick Johnson, U.S. Representative Steve Cohen, U.S. Representative Ted Lieu, civil rights leader Julian Bond, former U.S. Representative Mary Bono, Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and former Governor of West Virginia and President of the Alliance for Excellent Education Bob Wise.

Global leaders at AFI DOCS included the Ambassador of Kuwait H.E. Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Ambassador of Jordan Dr. Alia Hatoug Bouran, Ambassador of Lebanon Antoine Chedid and Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Anne Patterson.

Joining the opinion leaders were distinguished journalists: Executive Producer of PBS’s FRONTLINE Raney Aronson-Rath, Margaret Brennan of CBS News, The Atlantic’s Steve Clemons and Ta-Nehisi Coates, former ABC News anchor Sam Donaldson, Bloomberg View’s Al Hunt and PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff.


Nina Simone earned her moniker as the “High Priestess of Soul.” Trained as a classical pianist in North Carolina when racism was open and rampant, Simone drew upon her struggles as she became one of jazz music’s most beloved and complex figures. Director Liz Garbus offers access into Simone’s most intimate thoughts through her own words as the influential chanteuse became a leading voice for the civil rights movement of the late 1960s. Despite her enormous talent, however, Simone battled worsening demons that ultimately drove her into a life of seclusion in Liberia and France.

The short film features a group of racially diverse parents discussing the importance of having a conversation with their young black sons about racism and interacting with the police.

AT&T is the presenting sponsor of AFI DOCS 2015. AFI’s official airline, American Airlines, returned as an Official Sponsor of the festival. Official Sponsors include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, VIZIO and NBCUniversal. The Washington Post is proud to be a major media sponsor and presenter of The Washington Post Film Strand. Additional Major Sponsors include Amtrak, the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, CYM Media & Entertainment, Discovery Communications, The Fledgling Fund, HBO, Maryland Film Office, Netflix, PBS, SonicPool and Sony.

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AFI DOCS is the American Film Institute’s annual documentary festival in the Washington, DC area. Presenting the year’s best documentaries, AFI DOCS is the only festival in the U.S. dedicated to screenings and events that connect audiences, filmmakers and policy leaders in the seat of our nation’s government. The AFI DOCS advisory board includes Ken Burns, Davis Guggenheim, Chris Hegedus, Werner Herzog, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, D A Pennebaker and Frederick Wiseman. Now in its 13th year, the festival will be held June 17-21, 2015 in landmark Washington, DC venues and the historic AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD. Visit and connect on, and

About the American Film Institute
AFI is America’s promise to preserve the heritage of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers.
AFI programs include the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive, which preserve film heritage for future generations; the AFI Life Achievement Award, the highest honor for a career in film; AFI AWARDS, honoring the most outstanding motion pictures and television programs of the year; AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies television events and movie reference lists, which have introduced and reintroduced classic American movies to millions of film lovers; year-round and special event exhibition through AFI FEST presented by Audi, AFI DOCS and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center; and educating the next generation of storytellers at the world-renowned AFI Conservatory. For more information about AFI, visit or connect with AFI at, and


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