AFI DOCS Reveals 2021 Program, 52 Percent of Films Are Directed By Women

AFI DOCS has once again reached gender parity. This year’s lineup includes 77 films from 23 countries, with 52 percent of the titles directed by women, 40 percent by BIPOC directors, and 18 percent by LGBTQ directors. A press release announced the news.

Sixty-one percent of last year’s slate were directed by women.

As previously announced, women-directed docs are set to bookend the 19th edition of the fest. Garrett Bradley’s “Naomi Osaka,” a portrait of the tennis superstar spanning two years, will open AFI DOCS, and Parker Hill and Isabel Bethencourt’s “Cusp,” a look inside the lives of three teenage girls living in rural Texas, will close it.

Brooke Pepion Swaney’s “Daughter of a Lost Bird” and Rosine Mbakam’s “Delphine’s Prayers” (“Les Prières de Delphine”) are among the other features set to screen. The former tells the story of a woman who grew up in white suburbia knowing little of her Native American heritage, and the latter follows a 30-year-old Cameroonian woman living in Brussels. This year’s lineup also includes Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine’s look inside the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s class-action gender discrimination lawsuit against the team’s employer, “LFG,” and Debbie Lum’s exploration of the college application process, “Try Harder!”

“We are living in the Golden Age of documentary film,” said Sarah Harris, AFI Festivals Director of Programming. “At AFI DOCS, we are proud to celebrate excellence in the films of 2021 – connecting audiences across the nation, engaging them in lively conversation, and inspiring them with both the unprecedented challenges and the breathtaking beauty of the world around us.”

Set to take place June 22-27, this year’s hybrid festival will include limited in-person screenings at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, MD, as well as a full slate of virtual offerings. Dawn Porter has been named as this year’s Charles Guggenheim Symposium honoree. The June 23 event will include an in-depth conversation with Porter and a free screening of her latest doc, “Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer,” a look inside journalist DeNeen Brown’s investigation into a mass grave in Oklahoma and racial violence of the early 20th century.

Head over to the fest’s website to check out the complete program.

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