Previously Announced Festival Will Be Held November 13 at the Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema
First-Ever Film Festival Celebrates Broadcast’s 70th Anniversary and
Spotlights Seven Issues Facing Americans
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — OCTOBER 19, 2017 — The Meet the Press Film Festival in Collaboration with the American Film Institute (AFI) announced its full slate of official selections — 16 short-length political documentaries produced by filmmakers from across the country. The inaugural film festival will be held at the Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema in Washington, D.C. on the evening of November 13. Film screenings will be organized under seven issues and followed by Q&As with the respective filmmakers and an NBC News correspondent.
The #1 most-watched Sunday show first announced its collaboration with AFI this past August, as both institutions joined forces in recognition of their milestone anniversaries — 70th and 50th, respectively — at a time when political documentaries are more popular than ever before.
See below for descriptions of the selected films. Tickets to the festival are now on sale and available here.
Battling America’s New Epidemic
- “Heroin(e)”: Once a bustling industrial town, Huntington, WV has become the epicenter of America’s modern opioid epidemic, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average. This flood of heroin now threatens this Appalachian city with a cycle of generational addiction, lawlessness and poverty. But within this distressed landscape, Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon (“Hollow”) shows a different side of the fight against drugs — one of hope, highlighting three women working to change the town’s narrative one person at a time.
Love and the Law
- “62 Days”: Marlise Muñoz was 33 years old and 14 weeks pregnant with her second child when she died, suffering a pulmonary embolism. Pronounced brain-dead in a hospital in Fort Worth, TX, she had discussed her end-of-life wishes with her husband and did not want to be on life support. Director Sharon Liese tells the story of how, despite this, her family was forced to keep Marlise on mechanical support due to a little-known state law.
- “Edith + Eddie”: Edith and Eddie, at ages 96 and 95, became America’s oldest interracial newlyweds. Their love story, told by director Laura Checkoway, is disrupted by a family feud that threatens to tear the couple apart.
Life After Prison
- “Knife Skills”: Over 650,000 people are released from prison every year. Director Thomas Lennon follows the launch of an haute cuisine restaurant in Cleveland, staffed by men and women recently released from behind bars to tell the story of re-entry, second chances and the healing power of fine food.
Higher (Court) Education
- “Fight for the First”: Director Rebecca Haimowitz addresses the freedom of the press in the Trump era through the eyes of journalists-in-training at the world’s oldest journalism school.
- “Gavin Grimm vs.”: Director Nadia Hallgren tells the story of transgender teen Gavin Grimm suing his local school board in 2016 after its members refused to let him use the bathroom of his choice. He was ready to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court — and then the election happened.
The Cost of Justice
- “A Debtors’ Prison”: Across the racially segregated landscape of St. Louis County, MO, thousands are routinely sent to jail because they cannot pay local court fines and fees. The vast majority of those fined are poor and black. Directors Brett Story and Todd Chandler follow two plaintiffs in an unfolding court case, as they describe the matrix of controls that subjected them to incarceration for being poor.
- “Shawna: Life on the Sex Offender Registry”: After having consensual sex with a younger boy while she was still a teenager, Shawna Baldwin found herself one of the 800,000 people on America’s sex offender registries. Director David Feige explores the effects on her life, as she is now in her mid-30s and a mother of three.
- “219”: A chilling portrait of the inner-workings of the death penalty in America, directed by Ed Hancox and told by the man once known as “the face of executions.”
Living in America
- “Election Day 2016”: After a long and contentious presidential campaign, 10,000 people spontaneously came to pay tribute to Susan B. Anthony’s grave in Rochester, NY. They placed their “I Voted” stickers upon her headstone and expressed their pride and gratitude to America’s most famous suffragette.
- “Osama and Ayman”: Osama and Ayman are brothers, skateboarders, entrepreneurs, Americans and Muslims. As they skate through the streets of our nation’s capital, they navigate growing Islamophobia with characteristic style and humor in a film directed by Ben Mullinkosson, Sam Price-Waldman and Chris Cresci.
- “From Aleppo to L.A.”: Director Julia Meltzer tells the story of Dalya and her mother Rudayna fleeing Aleppo for Los Angeles in 2012. Can they hold on to their Islamic traditions in a country that doesn’t embrace them?
- “Roadside Attraction”: After a very famous airplane arrives at Palm Beach International Airport, an otherwise ordinary stretch of Florida highway attracts an avid cluster of excited onlookers and selfie-takers, directed by Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan.
On the Edge
- “Ferryman at the Wall”: Originally proposed as an international peace park with Mexico, Big Bend, TX has a unique relationship with its southern neighbor. For the past 40 years, Mike Davidson has been ferrying tourists across the Rio Grande for a little taste of Mexican life — but now, as director David Freid shows, a great big border wall might divide the park.
- “Los Lecheros”: The fates of undocumented immigrant workers and Wisconsin’s $43 billion dairy industry are closely intertwined, as director Jim Cricchi tells the story of how both are grappling with their options for survival as fears of ICE raids and deportations under the Trump administration grow.
- “Monument | Monumento”: Director Laura Gabbert tells the story of Friendship Park, a unique meeting place along the US-Mexico border where family members and loved ones from both countries can see and speak to each other through a meshed fence, but cannot touch.
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NBC NEWS’ “MEET THE PRESS WITH CHUCK TODD”
“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 across the board for the 2016-2017 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 “1947: The Meet the Press Podcast”. It’s the longest-running show in television history, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year with the launch of its first-ever film festival in collaboration with the American Film Institute this November. Chuck Todd is the political director of NBC News and the moderator of “Meet the Press“; John Reiss is the executive producer.
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ABOUT THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE
Celebrating its golden milestone, the American Film Institute began its mission on June 5, 1967 — to preserve the heritage of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. Established by Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential mandate in the White House Rose Garden, AFI is America’s promise to educate today’s audiences and tomorrow’s artists. The Institute was anchored by a foundation of luminaries from the film community including Gregory Peck as Chair, Sidney Poitier as Vice Chair, George Stevens, Jr., as Director and CEO with board members Francis Ford Coppola, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Jack Valenti.
In 1969, AFI opened the Center for Advanced Film Studies, now called the AFI Conservatory, an elite MFA program whose inaugural class included Terrence Malick, Caleb Deschanel and Paul Schrader. The program’s acclaimed film and television alumni include Andrea Arnold, Darren Aronofsky, Julie Dash, Patty Jenkins, Janusz Kamiński, David Lynch and Robert Richardson, among others.
In addition to the AFI Conservatory, 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 movies and TV series 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. For more information about AFI, visit AFI.com or connect with AFI at twitter.com/AmericanFilm, facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute and youtube.com/AFI.
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