Russian Doping Doc 'Icarus' to Open AFI Docs 2017


The Washington-based fest is set to run June 14–18.

AFI on Friday unveiled the lineup for the Washington-based documentary festival AFI Docs 2017.

Opening the event is Bryan Fogel's Icarus, which premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival and follows Russian "anti-doping" doctor Grigory Rodchenkov, who became a whistle-blower, detailing Russia’s state-sponsored Olympic doping program that took place ahead of the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The five-day fest will close out with Year of the Scab from John Dorsey, which follows the 1987 NFL season when football players participated in a union strike, leading to "scab" replacement players taking the field.  

The 15th edition of AFI Docs will showcase 103 films, representing 28 countries, and is set to run June 14-18.

The full list of feature selections are below.


Icarus: DIR Bryan Fogel. USA. An amateur American cyclist opts to up his game and experiment with performance-enhancing drugs. But his research leads him to a notorious Moscow lab director — and he soon finds himself entangled in the highest levels of the Russian government. East Coast premiere.

Year of the Scab: DIR John Dorsey. USA. In September 1987, for the first time in U.S. history, replacement football players took the field amidst a union strike. Seen as a second chance for these "scab" players, the season became a memorable one for the Washington Redskins.


Atomic Homefront: DIR Rebecca Cammisa. USA. A large landfill containing both radioactive waste and an underground fire is threatening homes, health and lives in one of our major metropolitan areas. Can a group of concerned citizens prevent a potential catastrophe? World premiere.

Dolores: DIR Peter Bratt. USA. This film honors activist Dolores Huerta — who fought alongside Cesar Chavez to advance labor and civil rights causes beginning in the 1960s — as she reflects on the accomplishments and sacrifices of her passionate career.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power: DIRS Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk. USA. This timely sequel to the Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth (2006) takes up with former Vice President Al Gore and his efforts to educate the public — and those in power — about climate change and the crisis facing our planet.

Mama Colonel: DIR Dieudo Hamadi. Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the war-torn capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the headstrong Colonel Honorine Munyole leads a mission to serve and protect the women and children of her country when no one else will. U.S. premiere.

Mosquito: DIR Su Rynard. Canada. Mosquito is an urgent exposé on humankind's millennia-long war against one of the biggest threats to the survival of our species, and on the efforts of scientists to keep this deadly menace at bay. International premiere.

New Chefs on the Block: DIR Dustin Harrison-Atlas. USA. Opening a new restaurant is not for the faint of heart. Two D.C.-area chefs put everything on the line to open two very different establishments — Frank Linn's Frankly…Pizza! and Aaron Silverman's Rose's Luxury.

The Reagan Show: DIRS Pacho Velez, Sierra Pettengill. USA. Ronald Reagan brought a host of Hollywood savvy to the White House, with his team making unprecedented use of staged moments to inform popular opinion. Whether riding horses or grappling with Gorbachev, his administration crafted the story.

Recruiting for Jihad: DIRS Adel Khan Farooq, Ulrik Imtiaz Rolfsen. Norway. Journalist Adel Khan Farooq gains unparalleled and unsettling access into the shrouded world of jihadism. He shadows the young Norwegian Muslim Ubaydullah Hussain — a polarizing figure — while documenting this notorious but largely unknown world. U.S. premiere.

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World: DIRS Catherine Bainbridge, Alfonso Maiorana. This rollicking and thoughtful film about the Indian role in the history of North American music celebrates the unsung Native American and First Nation musicians who helped shape rock 'n' roll.

Tough Guys: DIRS Henry Roosevelt, W.B. Zullo. USA. Told through the colorful stories of scrappy brawlers and amateur promoters, Tough Guys brings to life the birth of mixed martial arts competitions in 1980s Pittsburgh. World premiere.

Whitney. Can I Be Me: DIRS Nick Broomfield, Rudi Dolezal. U.K. Prolific documentarian Nick Broomfield's latest celebrity profile, co-directed by music video helmer Rudi Dolezal, is an intimate portrait of a pop star and her tragic trajectory from supremely talented New Jersey gospel singer to iconic American chanteuse.


32 Pills: My Sister's Suicide: DIR Hope Litoff. USA. In December 2008, Ruth Litoff took her own life and left behind a legacy of art, love and tragedy. Years later, her sister Hope undertakes a mission to understand Ruth's illness and her desire to end her life. U.S. premiere.

ACORN and the Firestorm: DIRS Reuben Atlas, Samuel Pollard. USA. This thought-provoking film tells the story of the 2008 demise of ACORN, the longstanding community activist group brought down by a right-wing undercover sting.

Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer: DIRS David Barba, James Pellerito. USA. In this intimate portrait of an extraordinary talent, American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Marcelo Gomes is at the top of his game, but knows that his body can only withstand the rigors of the profession for so long.

Bill Nye: Science Guy: DIRS David Alvarado, Jason Sussberg. USA. The beloved TV personality finds himself in the fight of his life as he goes up against those seeking to debunk and diminish the scientific principles he has spent his entire career teaching.

Brimstone & Glory: DIR Viktor Jakovleski. USA. Bold, booming and beautiful, Brimstone & Glory transports viewers to Tultepec, Mexico — the country's pyrotechnic capital — which honors the patron saint of fireworks in an eye-popping annual festival.

The Cage Fighter: DIR Jeff Unay. USA. In this unflinching and up-close portrait, a 40-year-old blue-collar dad is caught between his desire to make a comeback in mixed martial arts and his family, who abhors his brutal hobby. East Coast premiere.

La Chana: DIR Lucija Stojevic. Spain/Iceland. La Chana celebrates the incomparable talent and spirit of Spain's greatest flamenco dancer as she reflects on her storied past while preparing for a return to the stage in her 70s. U.S. premiere.

Chavela: DIRS Catherine Gund, Daresha Kyi. USA. The triumphant late-life comeback of lesbian singer Chavela Vargas — soulful interpreter of the Mexican ranchera, renowned nightclub performer and alcoholic — secured her reputation as an artist of uncompromising passion and independence.

Cine Sao Paolo: DIR Ricardo Martensen, Felipe Tomazelli. Brazil. Once a grand movie palace, the Cine Sao Paulo in Brazil is now crumbled into ruin. Enter Dom Chico, whose father once owned the theater, as he attempts to restore it to its former glory. International premiere.

City of Ghosts: DIR Matthew Heineman. USA. The latest film from Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land) is a harrowing and inspirational portrait of the men behind Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group of heroic citizen journalists who are courageously fighting to bring to light ISIS' atrocities in their hometown.

Dina: DIRS Antonio Santini, Daniel Sickles. USA. This tender story of overcoming obstacles and finding love follows a 49-year-old woman coping with autism and a fledgling romance with Scott, a Walmart door greeter. Dina garnered the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Donkeyote: DIR Chico Pereira. Spain/Germany/U.K. Chico Pereira's portrait of a 73-year-old Spaniard planning a quixotic trip to the U.S. to walk the Trail of Tears with his beloved dog and donkey shows how the journey can be even richer than the destination.

Dries: DIR Reiner Holzemer. Belgium/Germany. Style icon Iris Apfel calls him a treasure, yet few outside fashion circles know Belgian designer Dries Van Noten's name. This artful portrait provides behind-the-scenes access to the designer's stunning sartorial creations. North American premiere.

The Farthest: DIR Emer Reynolds. Ireland. An iconic space mission gets a cinematic treatment worthy of its impact. Through the most perilous points of the solar system and beyond, this chronicle of NASA's Voyager program provides an awe-inspiring view of an unparalleled human achievement.

For Ahkeem: DIRS Jeremy S. Levine, Landon Van Soest. USA. Behind the racially charged headlines of Ferguson, Missouri, is 17-year-old Daje "Boonie" Shelton, a young woman from North St. Louis struggling to make it to graduation after an unexpected pregnancy.

The Force: DIR Peter Nicks. USA. Winner of the best director prize at Sundance, Peter Nicks' compelling exposé focuses on the Oakland Police Department as they undergo efforts to reform an agency riven by years of corruption and criminal activity.

Gentlemen of Vision: DIRS Jim Kirchherr, Frank Popper. USA. Produced by St. Louis PBS affiliate Nine Network, Gentlemen of Vision profiles the struggles and triumphs shared by a competitive high school step team and their determined coach as they prepare for a key competition.

The Girl Down Loch Anzi: DIR Alice Schmid. Switzerland. Juggling the awkwardness of adolescence and the magnetism of a local legend, a 12-year-old girl navigates life on a Swiss family farm and dreams of searching a gorge for the titular mythological girl. U.S. premiere.

A Gray State: DIR Erik Nelson. USA. In 2010, ex-soldier David Crowley began crowdfunding an action film forewarning of a future America gone police state. He quickly became a rising star among fringe right-wing groups, all the while spiraling toward a violent, tragic and inexplicable end.

A Greek Winter: DIR Ingeborg Janssen. The Netherlands. In the wake of the Greek debt crisis, a spirited brother and sister from Thessaloniki must face the impossible choice of keeping their small family business afloat or helping neighbors in need. North American premiere.

The Grown-Ups: DIR Maite Alberdi. Chile. In this delightful, award-winning documentary, a group of middle-aged adults with Down syndrome attend culinary classes in Chile. The students navigate life, love and making the perfect pastries, while dreaming of living independently.

I Am Evidence: DIRS Trish Adlesic, Geeta Gandbhir. USA. Thousands of untested sexual assault evidence kits are languishing in storage facilities across the U.S. This urgent and eye-opening film investigates what's being done to fight the backlog and bring perpetrators to justice.

An Insignificant Man: DIRS Khushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla. India. Hailed as "a real-life House of Cards," An Insignificant Man chronicles the birth of India's Common Man Party and the rise of its populist leader, Arvind Kejriwal, who boldly challenges government corruption.

Leaning Into the Wind – Andy Goldsworthy: DIR Thomas Riedelsheimer. U.K. Director Thomas Riedelsheimer reconnects with artist Andy Goldsworthy, subject of his popular documentary Rivers and Tides (2001), who continues his quest to create ephemeral, transformative works of art in unlikely places around the globe.

La Libertad del Diablo: DIR Everardo González. Mexico. Victims and perpetrators of drug violence in Mexico offer chilling testimonies in this stunning documentary. Their masked recollections are a powerful reminder of the systemic violence that has infiltrated Mexican society. East Coast premiere.

El Mar La Mar: DIRS Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki. USA. A poetic and enigmatic work, El Mar La Mar captures life and death at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing, pondering the terrain and the stories of the Sonoran Desert to understand the objects and lives left behind. East Coast premiere.

Muhi – Generally Temporary: DIRS Rina Castelnuovo-Hollander, Tamir Elterman. Israel. Muhi is the deeply affecting story of a young Palestinian boy, separated from most of his family in Gaza, whose life depends on the care he receives at an Israeli hospital.

No Man's Land: DIR David Byars. USA. In 2016, a well-armed band of anti-government militants took control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. No Man's Land is the riveting account of the siege that followed and its aftermath.

Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press: DIR Brian Knappenberger. USA. Using a salacious sex-tape trial that pitted wrestler Hulk Hogan against an online tabloid, Nobody Speak is a timely and critical cautionary tale about the dangers of the super rich controlling the message and the media.

Nowhere to Hide: DIR Zaradasht Ahmed. Iraq/Norway/Sweden. A hospital worker films life in central Iraq's "triangle of death" after American forces leave in 2011, capturing unforgettable images of his family's survival and providing a brave view of a chaotic and brutal war zone.

The Opposition: DIR Hollie Fifer. Australia. In this riveting David and Goliath tale, a community of native Papua New Guineans battle developers who try to claim their homeland for a seaside tourist resort. U.S. premiere.

The Paris Opera: DIR Jean-Stéphane Bron. France/Switzerland. Documenting a season at the Paris Opera — a period set against terror attacks, ballet corps mutiny and a bull preparing for its stage debut — this portrait captures the majesty and chaos of a grand artistic institution.

Quest: DIR Jonathan Olshefsky. USA. Following a close-knit family in Philadelphia's inner city as they face innumerable struggles from the 2008 election to today, QUEST shows how much can change — and how much can remain the same — over the course of eight years.

Resurrecting Hassan: DIR Carlo Guillermo Proto. Canada/Chile. A family of blind street musicians cope with the death of their youngest member. As their lives fall apart, they attempt to find a way to bring their fallen kin back from the dead. U.S. premiere.

Saving Brinton: DIRS Tommy Haines, John Richard, Andrew Sherburne. USA. As small-town historian and collector, Michael Zahs lucked into a rare collection of turn-of-the-century cinema. Now turning his obsession into purpose, Zahs sets out to restore and exhibit his treasure trove of newsreels, home movies and lost films. World premiere.

School Life: DIRS Neasa Ní Chianáin, David Rane. Ireland. For nearly five decades, eccentric and brilliant couple Amanda and John have nurtured legions of students through Headfort, Ireland's last boarding prep school. They contemplate a future away from this rambling and beloved place of deep roots.

Spettacolo: DIRS Jeffrey Malmberg, Chris Shellen. USA. A delightful portrait of small-town Italian life, Spettacolo follows the residents of a tiny hilltop town in Tuscany who come together each summer to mount an original play about their own lives.

Step: DIR Amanda Lipitz. USA. Meet the "Lethal Ladies," the amazing step dance team from the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, who are determined to become the first women in their families to go to college.

Still Tomorrow: DIR Fan Jian. China. A farmer born with cerebral palsy, Yu Xinhua has been called China's Emily Dickinson. Although fame brought her financial independence, Yu struggles to obtain a divorce while yearning for true love.

Strad Style: DIR Stefan Avalos. USA. An amateur violinmaker living in rural Ohio mounts the seemingly impossible task of creating an exact replica of the classical music world's most famous violin in time for a famed European virtuoso's upcoming tour.

Strong Island: DIR Yance Ford. USA/Denmark. Yance Ford's searing, deeply moving and personal journey explores the circumstances surrounding his brother William's 1992 Long Island death by a white mechanic and the deep wounds caused by the incident's aftermath.

A Suitable Girl: DIRS Sarita Khurana, Smriti Mundhra. India/USA. Tradition, modernity and gender roles converge in this honest portrait of three young women in India as they — and their parents — contemplate their marriage prospects, careers and future happiness.

Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton: DIR Rory Kennedy. USA. Take Every Wave tells the incredible story of big-wave surfing pioneer Laird Hamilton. Filmmaker Rory Kennedy juxtaposes a wealth of archival footage along with a breathtaking view of Hamilton's current surfing adventures off the island of Kauai.

Trophy: DIRS Shaul Schwarz, Christina Clusiau. USA. As man forces more animals to the edge of extinction, the search for how to save them has become only more complex. Trophy is a dark journey into the global commodification of big-game animals in Africa and the consequences that result. 

Unrest: DIR Jennifer Brea. USA. When a mysterious illness robs newlywed and Harvard grad student Jennifer Brea of the life she dreamed of living, she reaches out to others grappling with a little-understood disease that primarily afflicts women.

Waiting for the Sun: DIR Kaspar Astrup Schröder. Denmark. The children of China's death row inmates face social stigma and few options. Enter Grandma Zheng, a former prison guard, whose orphanage Sun Valley provides a second chance for a normal life. North American premiere.

What Lies Upstream: DIR Cullen Hoback. USA. Cullen Hoback's trip to his home state of West Virginia to find out why the drinking water in Charleston has developed a strange smell turns into an eye-opening investigation into the dismal state of America's water supply. East Coast premiere.

The Work: DIRS Jairus McLeary, Gethin Aldous. USA. The top documentary prizewinner at SXSW, this remarkable vérité film follows a mixed group of "outsiders" and inmates as they undertake an intense four-day therapy session inside Folsom Prison.

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