By Peter Knegt | Indiewire June 25, 2013 at 9:02AM
AFI DOCS has announced the winners of their audience awards, with Yoruba Richen's LGBT rights take "The New Black" winning best feature and Joshua Izenberg's "Slomo" winning best short.
Washington, DC, June 25, 2013 – AFI DOCS presented by Audi (formerly Silverdocs) announced today its distinguished Audience Award winners, culminating a five day festival including the screening of 53 films representing 30 countries in iconic DC locations on the National Mall and Penn Quarter area as well as at the historic AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD.
The Festival hosted over 19,000 attendees, including 845 filmmakers, film subjects, journalists, industry, esteemed panelists and special guests, including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, LETTERS TO JACKIE director Bill Couturié, AFI Trustee Emerita Ina Ginsburg, Bipartisan Policy Center President Jason Grumet, Attorney General Eric Holder, White House Staffer Frances Anne Holuba, Academy® Award-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple, Senator Robert Menendez, Academy® Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, HERBLOCK producer George Stevens Jr. and Pulitzer Prize Winner Jose Antonio Vargas.
The Festival encompassed a full day of “Catalyst Sessions” exploring Immigration, Education, Intellectual Property and the Role of Humor in Politics. The Festival also hosted an inaugural Public Policy Engagement Program, which connected over 52 filmmakers with influential policy makers in the halls of Congress, at a Film and Politics Boot Camp, as well as in conversations with Administration officials about ways to collaborate for positive social change around shared issue areas.
This year’s Audience Award for Best Feature went to THE NEW BLACK directed by Yoruba Richen. The film examines how African-American voters have become bitterly divided on the issue of gay marriage because of homophobia rampant in one of the pillars of the African-American community – the church. Focusing on the fight for marriage equality in Maryland, it argues that this hot-button issue is a matter of civil rights.
This year’s Audience Award for Best Short went to SLOMO directed by Joshua Izenberg. The film asks what would really happen if you quit your lucrative job and just did what you wanted all day, like subject John Kitchin, a doctor who traded his medical practice for rollerblades and sandy beaches, and explores the neurological and spiritual joys of slow acceleration.
“While this was a transformational year for the Festival with an expanded footprint into the heart of Washington, DC, at our core remains a commitment to celebrating the best in the documentary form,” said Sky Sitney, Festival Director. “The tremendous enthusiasm and response to the film program and its related panels surpassed even our highest expectations. Congratulations to our award winning filmmakers who have set the bar even higher for all future years.”
The 2013 edition of AFI DOCS marks the historic return of the American Film Institute to Washington, DC, where its creation was announced in the White House Rose Garden in 1965.
Best of Fest screenings were held on Monday at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, including AFTER TILLER, AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY, BEST KEPT SECRET, THE CRASH REEL, GIDEON’S ARMY, GOD LOVES UGANDA, LET THE FIRE BURN, LIFE ACCORDING TO SAM, OUR NIXON, MCCULLIN, MISTAKEN FOR STRANGERS, THE NEW BLACK and RUNNING FROM CRAZY.