The Meet the Press Film Festival in Collaboration with the American Film Institute (AFI) announced its full slate of official selections — 16 short-length political documentaries produced by filmmakers from across the country. The inaugural film festival will be held at the Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema in Washington, D.C. on the evening of November 13. Film screenings will be organized under seven issues and followed by Q&As with the respective filmmakers and an NBC News correspondent.
Meet the Press first announced its collaboration with AFI this past August, as both institutions joined forces in recognition of their milestone anniversaries — 70th and 50th, respectively - at a time when political documentaries are more popular than ever before.
See below for descriptions of the selected films. Tickets to the festival are now on sale and available here.
- "Heroin(e)": Once a bustling industrial town, Huntington, WV has become the epicenter of America's modern opioid epidemic, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average. This flood of heroin now threatens this Appalachian city with a cycle of generational addiction, lawlessness and poverty. But within this distressed landscape, Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon ("Hollow") shows a different side of the fight against drugs — one of hope, highlighting three women working to change the town's narrative one person at a time.
- "62 Days": Marlise Muñoz was 33 years old and 14 weeks pregnant with her second child when she died, suffering a pulmonary embolism. Pronounced brain-dead in a hospital in Fort Worth, TX, she had discussed her end-of-life wishes with her husband and did not want to be on life support. Director Rebecca Haimowitz tells the story of how, despite this, her family was forced to keep Marlise on mechanical support due to a little-known state law.
- "Edith+Eddie": Edith and Eddie, at ages 96 and 95, became America's oldest interracial newlyweds. Their love story, told by director Laura Checkoway, is disrupted by a family feud over legal guardianship that threatens to tear the couple apart.
- "Knife Skills": Over 650,000 people are released from prison every year. Director Thomas Lennon follows the launch of an haute cuisine restaurant in Cleveland, staffed by men and women recently released from behind bars to tell the story of re-entry, second chances and the healing power of fine food.
- "Fight for the First": Director Sharon Liese addresses the freedom of the press in the Trump era through the eyes of journalists-in-training at the world's oldest journalism school.
- "Gavin Grimm vs.": Director Nadia Hallgren tells the story of transgender teen Gavin Grimm suing his local school board in 2016 after its members refused to let him use the bathroom of his choice. He was ready to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court — and then the election happened.
- "A Debtors' Prison": Across the racially segregated landscape of St. Louis County, MO, thousands are routinely sent to jail because they cannot pay local court fines and fees. The vast majority of those fined are poor and black. Directors Brett Story and Todd Chandler follow two plaintiffs in an unfolding court case, as they describe the matrix of controls that subjected them to incarceration for being poor.
- "Shawna: Life on the Sex Offender Registry": After having consensual sex with a younger boy while she was still a teenager, Shawna Baldwin found herself one of the 800,000 people on America's sex offender registries. Director David Feige explores the effects on her life, as she is now in her mid-30s and a mother of three.
- "219": A chilling portrait of the inner-workings of the death penalty in America, directed by Ed Hancox and told by the man once known as "the face of executions."
- "Election Day 2016": After a long and contentious presidential campaign, 10,000 people spontaneously came to pay tribute to Susan B. Anthony's grave in Rochester, NY. They placed their "I Voted" stickers upon her headstone and expressed their pride and gratitude to America's most famous suffragette.
- "Osama and Ayman": Osama and Ayman are brothers, skateboarders, entrepreneurs, Americans and Muslims. As they skate through the streets of our nation's capital, they navigate growing Islamophobia with characteristic style and humor in a film directed by Ben Mullinkosson, Sam Price-Waldman and Chris Cresci.
- "From Aleppo to L.A.": Director Julia Meltzer tells the story of Dalya and her mother Rudayna fleeing Aleppo for Los Angeles in 2012. Can they hold on to their Islamic traditions in a country that doesn't embrace them?
- "Roadside Attraction": After a very famous airplane arrives at Palm Beach International Airport, an otherwise ordinary stretch of Florida highway attracts an avid cluster of excited onlookers and selfie-takers, directed by Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan.
- "Ferryman at the Wall": Originally proposed as an international peace park with Mexico, Big Bend, TX has a unique relationship with its southern neighbor. For the past 40 years, Mike Davidson has been ferrying tourists across the Rio Grande for a little taste of Mexican life — but now, as director David Freid shows, a great big border wall might divide the park.
- "Los Lecheros": The fates of undocumented immigrant workers and Wisconsin's $43 billion dairy industry are closely intertwined, as director Jim Cricchi tells the story of how both are grappling with their options for survival as fears of ICE raids and deportations under the Trump administration grow.
- "Monument | Monumento": Director Laura Gabbert tells the story of Friendship Park, a unique meeting place along the US-Mexico border where family members and loved ones from both countries can see and speak to each other through a meshed fence, but cannot touch.