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AFI DOCS 2014 Unveils Opening and Closing Night Films

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood May 15, 2014 at 12:42PM

The American Film Institute’s documentary film festival, AFI DOCS, has revealed the opening and closing night films for its 2014 edition of the fest. The world premiere of Scott Teems’ “Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey” will kick off the festival, while Steve James’ portrait of Roger Ebert, “Life Itself,” is the closer.
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Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert

The American Film Institute’s documentary film festival, AFI DOCS, has revealed the opening and closing night films for its 2014 edition of the fest. The world premiere of Scott Teems’ “Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey” will kick off the festival, while Steve James’ portrait of Roger Ebert, “Life Itself,” is the closer.

Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain
Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain

“Holbrook/Twain” celebrates actor Hal Holbrook (“The Evening Sun”) by going behind the scenes of his well-known one-man show “Mark Twain Tonight,” which has been running continuously over the past six decades.

James' documentary is based on Ebert's 2011 memoir of the same name, and follows the life of the highly influential film critic from his first career moves, through his success with Gene Siskel as TV’s first critic personalities, to the devastation of losing his physical voice to cancer and the ways he navigated that loss to continue his writing. Our TOH! review of the film out of Sundance is here.

AFI DOCS runs June 18 through 22 in Washington, DC.

This article is related to: Festivals, Documentary, Documentaries, AFI, Hal Holbrook


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.