AFI DOCS 2021 Award Winner

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Audience Award for Best Feature Enter


Audience Award for Best Short Goes to SHELTER

Short Film Grand Jury Prize Going to RED TAXI

Among the participants in the 19thth Annual Documentary Film Festival:

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Morgan Neville, Garrett Bradley, Dawn Porter


JUNE 28, 2021, WASHINGTON, DC-The American Film Institute (AFI) has announced the AFI DOCS 2021 Award winner, concluding the six-day festival, with performances online and in person at the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center. The festival’s Audience Award for Best Feature went to STORM LAKE, by Jerry Risius and Beth Levison. The Audience Award for Best Short went to SHELTER, directed by Smriti Mundhra.

This year’s jury for the competitive short film slate consisted of Mike Attie, renowned filmmaker and professor of film at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia; Greta Hagen-Richardson, Programming Director at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and Lead Features Programmers at the New Orleans Film Festival; and Yvonne Ashley Kouadjo, Associate Producer for The New York Times’ award-winning short documentary series Op-Docs.

The Grand Jury Prize for short films went to RED TAXI, led by Anonymous. The jury said of RED TAXI: “For its creative and accessible approach to living and working from a perspective of those who work in a moment of political circumstances, we award the Shorts Grand Jury Prize to RED TAXI. The courage of the anonymous filmmaker has led us to show their commitment to the nuances of reality on the ground. ”The Shorts Grand Jury Award at AFI DOCS is a qualifying award for Academy Award® qualification.

The jury also awarded the Special Jury Prize to two films: THE COMMUNION OF MY COUSIN ANDREA, led by BrandánCerviño Abeledo, and says:

“For his ability to tell a reflexive story with lightness and trembling, we award a special jury prize to the COMMUNITY MORE COUSIN ANDREA”; and SPACES (MEZERY), led by Nora Štrbová, said: “For his intelligent use of multidimensional media to tell a dangerous, emotional story, we are awarding a Special Jury Prize to SPACES (MEZERY).”

The 19th edition of AFI DOCS presents a diverse slate of 78 films from 23 countries that shed light on forgotten stories from the past, honor the champions of change and give us a glimpse into the everyday life of topics close to home and around the world. ‘Become world. This year, 52% of AFI DOCS films were directed by women, 40% by BIPOC directors and 18% by LGBTQ directors.

Among the festival participants were filmmakers and notables including Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar; Academy Award® winners Morgan Neville, Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine and Mark Ronson; Academy Award®-nominated filmmakers Julie Cohen, Betsy West and Steve James; Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Art Cullen; Award-winning filmmaker Dawn Porter; Emmy® Award winner Chris No; CNN Political Assistant and Host Van Jones; Author and The New Yorker Contribution Jelani Cobb; Filmmaker and actress Sonja Sohn; Musician and filmmaker Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Curator Dwandalyn Reece; President of the African American Film Critics Association Gil Robertson; Georgetown University Professor Dr. Janet Mann; Rapper KYLE; and son of the late comedian and activist Dick Gregory Christian Gregory.

The festival’s panels and discussions have given filmmakers, film themes and audiences the opportunity to delve deeper into the films with talks led by some of the nation’s top journalists, including: NBC News correspondent Morgan Radford ; NBC News’ Meet the Press Moderator and NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd; NBC News Correspondent Anne Thompson; MSNBC Correspondent Trymaine Lee; Variety’s Film Awards Editor Clayton Davis; Axios Justice and Race Reporter Russell Contreras; Senior segment producer of WGN Morning News and WGN Entertainment producer Tyra Martin; Entertainment Journalist & TV Producer KJ Matthews; CQ Roll Call Deputy Editor Jason Dick and Health Care Editor Rebecca Adams; and Washington Post Managing Editor for Diversity and Inclusion Krissah Thompson, Chief Film Critic Ann Hornaday, Global Opinions writer Jason Rezaian, National Security Editor Peter Finn, Religion Reporter Michelle Boorstein, and Food Video host and editor Mary Beth Albright.

This year’s inaugural DOCS Talks programming includes the world premiere of Netflix’s and Higher Ground’s WE THE PEOPLE, as well as “History Is Out of the Closet: Excavating Queer Stories for the Screen,” a live stream discussion to celebrate LGBTQ + pride. The AFI DOCS Industry Forum examines construction accessibility practices in every step of the production process, demystifies investigative documentaries, the creation of the hit series PHILLY DA, how documentaries shape racial violence, and behind-the-scenes footage of Hindsight Project films and new collaborations between public media and indie filmmakers. This year’s industry forum programming also includes closed captions and American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation. The AFI DOCS Industry Forum is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.


DIR: Anonymous. As the protests in Hong Kong escalate, taxi drivers experience a city in circumstances that drive the streets day and night. Anonymous filmed by residents.



DIR: Brandán Cerviño Abeledo. Andrea’s first communion ceremony lacks glamor. For Andrea, things without sparkles are meaningless.



DIR: Nora Štrbová. A multi-textured animated exploration of memory as a container of identity, based on the personal story of the filmmaker and her brother, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

This year’s premium sponsors are Apple Original Films. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) returns as the festival’s official sponsor. NBC News’ Meet the Press with Chuck Todd and the Washington Post return this year as primary media partners. Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are Official Media Partners this year. Wrap is an affiliate media partner. Screen sponsorships include SHOWTIME® Documentary Films, Netflix, WarnerMedia and HBO Documentary Films. Participant, National Geographic, and Eventive serve as main sponsors. This year’s contributing sponsors are ESPN, the National Endowment for the Arts and the DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music, and Entertainment (OCTFME). Supporting sponsors include the Maryland Film Office, Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce and Rev. The Embassy of Denmark in Washington, DC, and the Farhang Foundation are cultural sponsors this year. Generous individual support comes from Stephanie and Hunter Hunt.


AFI DOCS is the American Film Institute’s annual documentary festival historically held in Washington, DC. Presenting the best documentaries of the year, AFI DOCS is the only festival in the United States dedicated to screenings and events that connect audiences, filmmakers and politicians at the heart of our nation’s government. The AFI DOCS Advisory Board includes Ken Burns, Davis Guggenheim, Chris Hegedus, Werner Herzog, Rory Kennedy, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Stanley Nelson and Frederick Wiseman. Now in its 19th year, the festival will be held June 22-27, 2021. Visit and connect,, the Film Institute.

About the American Film Institute (AFI)
Founded in 1967, the American Film Institute is dedicated to the National Nonprofit Organization to educate and inspire artists and audiences through initiatives that combat the past, presentation, and future of the moving picture. AFI’s pioneer programs include filmmaking training at the AFI Conservatory; the year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center and at AFI festivals throughout the nation; Workshops to increase diversity in the storytelling community; honoring current masters through the AFI Life Achievement Award and AFI AWARDS; and scientific efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films that keep film history alive for future generations. Read about all of these programs and more and follow us on social media Film Institute,, the Film Institute.

About the Public Broadcasting Corporation

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit company created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of federal government investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally managed and operated public television and radio stations across the country. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @CPBmedia, Facebook in the LinkedIn, in the subscribefor Email Updates.

About The Washington Post and Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership

The Washington Post is an award-winning news leader whose mission is to connect, inform, and explain local, national, and global readers with credible reporting, in-depth analysis, and engaging opinions. It combines world-class journalism with the latest technology and tools so that readers can interact with The Post anytime, anywhere.

The Press Freedom Partnership is an initiative of the Washington Post Public Service to promote press freedom and raise awareness of the rights of journalists seeking the truth. Learn more

About Meet the Press with Chuck Todd

Meet the press with Chuck Todd is where newsmakers come in to make news — set the political agenda and decide the impact Washington will have on Americans across the country. It is the # 1 most watched Sunday Public Affairs Show for the 2019-2020 season, reaching more than three million viewers every Sunday and millions more across social, digital and on-demand platforms. Meet the press brings his authority and influencer interviews to MSNBC MTP daily Weekdays at 1:00 PM ET, for the current weekly podcast, The Chuck ToddCast, an zu Meet the press releases, a 30-minute program on NBC News NOW and Peacock, focuses on a single topic covered by the Meet the press Lens. It is the longest running show in television history, recently expanding its brand to include a political short documentary film festival in collaboration with the American Film Institute. Chuck Todd is the political director of NBC News and the moderator of Meet the press; John Reiss is the executive producer.


Elizabeth Ward, AFI DOCS PR, [email protected]

American Film Institute: Stacy Adamski, 323.856.7759,[email protected]

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *