Report by Carla Renata for and

The American Film Institute announced today the AFI DOCS 2016 Audience Award winners, concluding the five-day festival in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, MD.  This year's Audience Award for Best Feature went to MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE, directed by Rita Coburn Whack and Bob Hercules (U.S.).  This year's Audience Award for Best Short went to SNAILS, directed by Grzegorz Szczepaniak (Poland).  With 93 films from 30 countries, the festival brought together filmmakers, industry, national policy and opinion leaders.



The 2016 festival provided unique opportunities for audiences, filmmakers and policymakers to meet in our nation's capital as news unfolded.  U.S. Representatives Jim Himes and Nita Lowey addressed the NEWTOWN Spotlight Screening audience at the Newseum just hours after Democrats concluded their sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives.  AFI DOCS filmmakers convened with policymakers at the White House, while AFI DOCS Impact Lab-participating filmmakers met with U.S. Representatives Ted Lieu, Jim McGovern and David Price.


As part of AFI DOCS 2016, the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands and the U.S. State Department conducted a gathering and roundtable of international filmmakers from Pakistan.  The meeting focused on how international filmmakers can make the leap into the established western film community, along with private conversations on how to handle issues such as funding, distribution and censorship.  This is the third year AFI DOCS and the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands have partnered to organize programs to advance the art and impact of documentary film.


This year's AFI DOCS attendees included renowned filmmakers Judd Apatow, Ramin Bahrani, Heidi Ewing, Alex Gibney, Rachel Grady, Werner Herzog (this year's AFI DOCS Charles Guggenheim Symposium honoree) and Barbara Kopple, along with acclaimed singer Sharon Jones and television icon Norman Lear.  Global, national and local leaders in attendance included U.S. Representatives Jim Himes and Nita Lowey and German Ambassador Peter Wittig.


Joining the opinion leaders were distinguished journalists:  PBS NewsHour's Chief Arts Correspondent Jeffrey Brown and Political Director Lisa Desjardins; The Undefeated's Editor-in-Chief Kevin Merida and Culture Writer Soraya Nadia McDonald; and The Washington Post's Chief Film Critic Ann Hornaday, Editor Josh Freedom du Lac and Opinion Writer Alyssa Rosenberg.





Co-directors Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack present a lovingly crafted and comprehensive portrait of the esteemed Dr. Maya Angelou.  The story is told by Angelou herself, along with a cast of contemporaries from her careers as actress, writer, poet and activist.  In chronicling Angelou's life from her youth in the Depression-era South through her rise to international prominence, the film is a vital document about the importance of grace, dignity and the quest for peace.

Maya Angelou Doc Trailer


Best friends with a shared goal of becoming millionaires believe they've found the answer to their dreams in an unlikely profession: snail farming.

Three of my favorite docs from Sundance and Tribeca were featured at AFI Docs as well...take a look at what I had to say about Life Animated, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, Abortion:  Stories Women Tell and look their trailer...



Love & Friendship

Review by Carla Renata for and Love-Friendship-1-e1453767274288

I absolutely live for a good Jane Austen film!  Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Sense & Sensibility...Did you know that Clueless with Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd and Stacey Dash was a modern take on Emma?  I know right??!! So, when  I learned that there would be Jane Austen film ready to be screened at Sundance 2016...I was all over it like a cheap

Love & Friendship is based on a series of short stories by Austen centers around Lady Susan.  Baby, I was not ready for Lady Susan and her antics!  She is hardly a saint and is always quoting from the bible and popping off the Commandments, all while totally not adhering to a single one of them! Lady Susan also gets it in with her good girlfriend played brilliantly by Chloe Sevigny for a daily gossip session whether by post or in-person.  Having worked together before in "Last Days of Disco", Beckinsale and Sevigny have a naturally hysterical chemistry that plays well in this flick,


Location images of Love & Friendship, a Jane Austen film adaptation starring Kate Bekinsdale and Chloe Sevigny, directed by Whit Stillman. CHURCHILL PRODUCTIONS LIMITED. Producers Katie Holly, Whit Stillman, Lauranne Bourrachot. Co-Producer Raymond Van Der Kaaij. Also Starring: Xavier Samuel, Emma Greenwell & Morfydd Clark

Kate Beckingsale gives Lady Susan the perfect blend a venomous intent with a beautiful a smile and disposition.  While many performances are worth mentioning, it is the scene stealing Tom Bennett as Sir James Martin that made my side literally split from laughter.  He makes Sir James so socially awkward that you can't help but feel a little embarrassed at this obvious ignorance to reality.

Having been purchased by Roadside for a theatrical release, if you love Jane Austen, you don't want to miss this one for sure!  It is opens in theaters TODAY!!!!






I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS review via Carla Renata's Corner and Being a teen, a young adult in your 20's, 30's and 40's are all phases that one at least has some idea of what to look forward to.  Growing old is the only phase in life that you can't outgrow. Growing old makes one remisnence about days gone by such as people you loved, people who loved you back.  Did you life turn out as planned or was it derailed by an unexpected turn of events?

Carol (Blythe Danner) is a creature of habit.  She writes down her errands on an erase board as to ensure she doesn't miss anything.  She awakens at 6am, eats breakfast, reads the paper, goes for a walk and plays bridge with her good girlfriends.  Normalcy is something she desperately tries to hold onto after the death of her husband, her best furry friend and a not so close relationship with her only daughter.  She seems to do this with ease and no interruptions until two very different men come into her life and change everything.


Blythe Danner has been an actor for 50 years and never tackled a female lead onscreen until now. Thank goodness!!!  This was a role that only Danner was born to play.  How ironic was it that such a prolific role was co-written by Brett Haley (only 29 years old) and Marc Basch.  It was a gift from Haley, this complex role for an actress in her 70s when such parts are few and far between. Interestingly enough, 2015 is a year marked by a number of these films for a change.  With films like “Grandma” (Lily Tomlin), “45 Years” (Charlotte Rampling) and “The Lady in the Van” (Maggie Smith), among others, populating the cinematic landscape.

"'ll See You In My Dreams" is a story about love, loss re-awakening in a phase of life one never sees coming.  Let me tell you, I was a wreck from the first frame, so be sure to take some tissue with you.  You'll laugh more

Sam Elliott is fine and like old ass wine!!!  We don't get to see him onscreen often enough, but when we do it is well worth the wait.  Only in a few scenes, he steals them every time!!!


The bridge ladies, all adeptly, easily and comically played by Mary Kay Place, June Squibb and Rhea Perlman,  are one of the highlights with the funniest scene being when the ladies make a quick "munchie" trip in the middle of the night.


This film evoked a multitude of emotions for a variety of reasons.  Yet the most compelling one is my love of independent film.  Indies are not concerned with making the story splashy as much as simply telling the story.

"I'll See You In My Dreams" began its journey in January at the Sundance Film Festival and looks like it will most likely be making its way to the attention of the Academy Awards.  Danner, just this week, was nominated for Best Actress by 2015 Gotham Awards.  And so it begins...