Steven Garza appears in Boys State by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine
Steven Garza appears in Boys State by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Thorsten Thielow.

In the new era of social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, AFI DOCS, the American Film Institute’s annual documentary celebration in the nation’s capital, announced the festival’s 18th annual edition is going global. AFI DOCS will showcase current non-fiction fare in a re-imagined online film festival – “where the best seat is in your house.” AFI DOCS 2020 will open with BOYS STATE, directed by Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine. The festival will run June 17–21 and films will be available to view on DOCS.AFI.com.

“AFI is committed to the documentary art form in the best of times and in the most challenging of times,” said Michael Lumpkin, Director of AFI Festivals. “Now more than ever, we are dedicated to supporting extraordinary films because the world needs stories that educate, inspire hope and remind us of humanity’s strength. AFI DOCS is here to help.”

The Opening Night screening of BOYS STATE will be held on June 17, followed by a Q&A. The Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning film follows a group of teenage boys at an annual civics program hosted by the American Legion in Austin, Texas, where attendees create a mock government and campaign for leadership and party platforms. Exploring politics through a coming-of-age lens, the result reveals American democracy and political division at its most hopeful and terrifying moments. BOYS STATE is an Apple and A24 release.

The AFI DOCS 2020 program will be presented in the following sections: Special Presentations, Features, Cinema’s Legacy and Shorts, as well as a virtual AFI DOCS Forum. Apple TV+, A24, Audience Network, HBO, National Geographic, PBS and The Atlantic will all have films in the festival. The full slate will be released on June 10.

Special Presentations will include the festival’s unique slate of special evening events, available to a limited audience for one-time viewing and featuring conversations and Q&A’s with the films’ directors and main subjects. Featuring exclusive films, many of which have not yet been publicly screened, the festival’s Feature Film program will include over two dozen films from the US and around the world.

The festival will also include a Cinema’s Legacy program, featuring historically notable non-fiction films that have made an impact on the documentary art form. In one of the most challenging general election years in modern times, this year’s program will be dedicated to films documenting landmark moments in our nation’s political history.

AFI DOCS Shorts Program will feature more than 20 documentary shorts screening in four curated programs. Each shorts program will be available to screen from June 18 through June 21.

AT&T’s returns as Presenting Sponsor for the seventh consecutive year enabling AFI DOCS to connect audiences, policymakers and storytellers across the nation.

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