Dawn Porter Named 2021 Guggenheim Honoree by American Film Institute

Dawn Porter is following in Barbara Kopple, Laura Poitras, and Freida Lee Mock’s footsteps. AFI Docs, the American Film Institute’s documentary film festival, announced that it will honor the award-winning director as the 2021 Charles Guggenheim Symposium honoree.

The Charles Guggenheim Symposium honors “a master of the nonfiction art form.” This year’s virtual edition, slate for June 23, will include a free screening of Porter’s 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. The National Geographic title comes 100 years after the Tulsa Massacre of 1921, which saw white mobs attacking “Black Wall Street,” the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Over 300 Black citizens were killed and thousands more displaced.

The event will also include an in-depth conversation with Porter.

“Dawn Porter’s voice echoes with power by combining the political with the deeply personal,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President and CEO. “Her presence is imperative in today’s world, and we are honored to shine a light upon her life and her work at AFI Docs.”

Sarah Harris, AFI Festivals Director of Programming, added, “With each of her projects, Dawn Porter turns our attention to a previously unexamined topic or invites us to take a fresh look at something we thought we already knew – and she does that again with ‘Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer.’ This is the kind of film that embodies the spirit of AFI Docs, and we are honored to have it as part of our programming.”

Earlier this week it was announced that Porter will direct a multi-part film about women in sports for ESPN.

Porter recently directed “The Me You Can’t See,” a five-part docuseries about mental health hosted by Oprah Winfrey that’s currently screening on Apple TV+. She made her directing debut with “Gideon’s Army,” an Emmy-nominated portrait of three Black public defenders in the South. “Trapped,” her investigation into how women’s reproductive rights have been impacted by “TRAP” (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws that have been passed by conservative state legislatures across the U.S., won a Peabody Award. “The Way I See It” and “John Lewis: Good Trouble” are among her other credits.

Set to take place June 22-27, AFI Docs will kick off with Garrett Bradley’s “Naomi Osaka,” which follows the tennis superstar from the 2019 U.S. Open through a tour of each of the Grand Slam tournaments.

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