Audience Award for Best Feature Goes to TRANSHOOD

Audience Award for Best Short Goes to BLACKFEET BOXING: NOT INVISIBLE

Short Film Grand Jury Prize Goes to ABORTION HELPLINE, THIS IS LISA

President Jimmy Carter, Lee Grant, Ron Howard, Julia Reichert and More Celebrate Documentary Film During Online Festival


JUNE 22, 2020, WASHINGTON, DCThe American Film Institute (AFI) has announced the AFI DOCS 2020 Award Winners, concluding the five-day online festival supported by Presenting Sponsor AT&T. The festival’s Audience Award for Best Feature went to TRANSHOOD, directed by Sharon Liese. The Audience Award for Best Short went to BLACKFEET BOXING: NOT INVISIBLE, directed by Kristen Lappas and Tom Rinaldi.

This year’s voting jury for the competitive Short Films slate was comprised of Opal H. Bennett, festival Programmer for DOC NYC and Athena Festival and Shorts Producer for POV; filmmaker and curator Cameron Yates; and Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Smriti Mundhra. The Grand Jury Prize for Short Films went to ABORTION HELPLINE, THIS IS LISA directed by Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater and Mike Attie. The jury said of the ABORTION HELPLINE, THIS IS LISA: “For its simple yet profound approach to a polarizing issue, we have selected a film which puts humanity ahead of an agenda.” This year, AFI DOCS is proud to announce the Shorts Grand Jury Prize is a qualifying award for Academy Award® eligibility.

The jury also awarded the Special Jury Prize to DO NOT SPLIT, directed by Anders Hammer, saying, “From the opening sequence to the final frame, we were riveted by this film’s urgent and incendiary storytelling capturing a seminal moment in history.”

With 58 films from 11 countries, the 18th edition of AFI DOCS presented stories that delved into of-the-moment issues including policing, immigration and gun violence; honored luminaries of the past; and looked to the new guard of rising activists and politicians.

Among the participants were filmmakers and notables including President Jimmy Carter, Academy Award®-winning actor and filmmaker Lee Grant; Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Ron Howard; Academy Award®-winning filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar; Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Steve James; actor and filmmaker Bryce Dallas Howard; Stockton, CA Mayor Michael Tubbs; Boston 9to5 co-founder Karen Nussbaum; musician Big Freedia; and journalist Maria Ressa.

This year’s festival included a number of panels featuring engaging discussions between filmmakers and film subjects, examining the films and the ideas they inspire, led by some of the nation’s top journalists: NBC News’ Meet the Press moderator and NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd; NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell; MSNBC correspondent Trymaine Lee; CNN anchor and correspondent Juan Carlos Arciniegas; NBC News correspondent and MSNBC anchor Katy Tur; NBC News correspondent Jacob Soboroff; NBC News’ Meet the Press senior producer Allie Sandza; CNN history correspondent Douglas Brinkley; author and journalist Lois Romano; activist and journalist Tre’vell Anderson; journalist Soledad O’Brien; and The Washington Post’s chief film critic Ann Hornaday, Global Opinions writer Jason Rezaian, on-air reporter Nicole Ellis and deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus.

The AFI DOCS Forum explored unique topics with keynote presentations, conversations, panel discussions and micro-meetings that covered developments affecting our world and documentary filmmaking. Programming for the Forum was made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. NBC News’ Meet the Press and The Washington Post returned to host and moderate sessions, with Netflix and ITVS joining to host sessions as well.






DIR: Sharon Liese.  We all remember the trials and tribulations of being a kid: fitting in at school, getting along with siblings, finishing homework. These alone are enough to handle. Now, add in discovering who you are and growing up as a trans youth in Kansas City. TRANSHOOD is director Sharon Liese’s in-depth five-year journey following the lives of four kids (ages beginning at 4, 9, 12, and 15) discovering their specific trans experiences alongside their families. Each of the kids and their parents navigate the day-to-day challenges of their home lives and their lives out in the world. Finding normalcy isn’t easy while tackling issues of body dysphoria, transphobia and bullying, and many other big topics that their cis-gender classmates can’t understand. What truly ties these stories together is the unbelievable empathy and humanity exemplified by each family, not just with the heavy moments, but often also during those typical of any childhood.




DIRS: Kristen Lappas and 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.




DIRS: Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater and 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.




DIR: Anders Hammer. During the 2019 protests in Hong Kong, a series of evening demonstrations escalate into conflict when heavily armed police appear on the scene.


AT&T returns for its seventh year as the Presenting Sponsor of AFI DOCS. The Official Sponsor for the 2020 festival is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Primary Media Partners include NBC News’ Meet the Press with Chuck Todd and The Washington Post. Screen Sponsors include Audi, SHOWTIME® Documentary Films, Netflix, WarnerMedia, HBO and CuriosityStream. Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are the Official Media Partners. This year’s Major Sponsors include Dell Technologies, Participant and the National Endowment for the Arts. Affiliate Media Partners are CNN en Español, International Documentary Association and LA Weekly. Supporting Sponsors are the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce and Realscreen. The festival’s Community Partners are Women in Film & Video, Kartemquin, Mexican Cultural Insitute, Docs in Progress and WHUT. Contributing Sponsors include Film Freeway and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.



AFI DOCS is the American Film Institute’s annual documentary festival historically held in Washington, DC.  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 heart 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, Stanley Nelson and Frederick Wiseman.  Now in its 18th year, the festival will be held online June 17-21, 2020. Visit and connect on,, and


About the American Film Institute (AFI)
Established in 1967, the American Film Institute is the nation’s non-profit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring artists and audiences through initiatives that champion the past, present and future of the moving image. AFI’s pioneering programs include filmmaker training at the AFI Conservatory; year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center and at AFI Festivals across the nation; workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community; honoring today’s masters through the AFI Life Achievement Award and AFI AWARDS; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films that uphold film history for future generations. Read about all of these programs and more at and follow us on social media at,, and


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About The Washington Post and Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership

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About NBC News’ Meet the Press with Chuck Todd

NBC News’ Meet the Press with Chuck Todd is where newsmakers come to make news — setting the political agenda and spotlighting the impact Washington decision-making has on Americans across the country. It is the #1 most-watched Sunday public affairs show for the 2018-2019 season, reaching more than three million viewers every Sunday and millions more through social, digital and on-demand platforms. Meet the Press brings its authority and influencer interviews to MSNBC with MTP Daily weekdays at 5 p.m. ET and to The Chuck ToddCast. It’s the longest-running show in television history, recently expanding its brand to include a political short-documentary film festival in collaboration with the American Film Institute. Chuck Todd is the political director of NBC News and the moderator of Meet the Press; John Reiss is the executive producer.



Elizabeth Ward, AFI DOCS PR, [email protected]

American Film Institute: Stacy Adamski, 323.856.7759, [email protected]


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