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AFI Docs announces opening and closing night films

Washington DC-based documentary festival and conference AFI Docs has announced its opening and closing night films for its upcoming 17th annual edition.

AFI Docs 2019 will open with the world premiere of HBO’s True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s First For Equality. Directed and produced by Peter Kunhardt, George Kunhardt and Teddy Kunhardt, the film provides an intimate portrait of Bryan Stevenson (pictured), founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. Stevenson and his staff have won reversals, relief or release for more than 140 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row.

True Justice is a co-production between HBO and Kunhardt Films. Executive producers are Trey Ellis and Peter Kunhardt. For HBO, executive producers are Jacqueline Glover, Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller.

True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s First For Equality will premiere on HBO on June 26 at 8 p.m. ET/PT exclusively on HBO. The documentary also will be available on HBO Now, HBO Go, HBO On Demand and partners’ streaming platforms.

AFI Docs’ closing night film is director Janice Engel’s Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins, which tells the story of Molly Ivins, a newspaper columnist who enraged all political stripes with her sharp commentary. Producers on the film are Engel, James Egan and Carlisle Vandervoort.

AFI Docs has also announced a number of Special Screenings.

Richard Ladkani’s Sea of Shadows is an environmental thriller which looks at the real world consequences for the imperiled vaquita, the world’s smallest whale, and local fishermen in the Sea of Cortez. Producers are Walter Köhler and Wolfgang Knöpfler.

Director and producer Robert Stone will have the world premiere of his film, Chasing The Moon, which utilizes overlooked arrival material to reimagine the space race.

A clash of cultures is subject of director Steven Bognar and Julie Reichert’s American Factory, which highlights tensions at a shuttered GM plant in Ohio, which has been turned into an auto glass factory owned by a large Chinese company. Producers on the film are Bognar, Reichert, Jeff Reichert and Julie Parker Benell.

The legendary writer Toni Morrison reflects on her life and career through themes of history, art, literature and race in director and producer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am. Additional producers on the project are Johanna Giebelhaus, Chad Thompson and Tommy Walker.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Lee Mock crafts an intimate profile of U.S. Supremer Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg through her own words in Ruth – Justice Ginsburg In Her Own Words (world premiere). Using archival footage and interviews, Mock covers the full breadth of Ginsburg’s life, views and career. Film producers are Mock and Meghan Hooper.

More information about AFI Docs screenings and other special events will be announced in the coming weeks.

AFI Docs runs June 19 to June 23 2019 in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, Maryland

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