DC/DOX Film Festival launches with Joan Baez, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and more

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews DC/DOX (Part 1)

The inaugural DC/DOX Film Festival launches this week from June 15 to 18.

It’s the brainchild of Sky Sitney, formerly of the Double Exposure: Investigative Film Festival that ran from 2015 to 2022.

“What brought me to D.C. almost 20 years ago was to run what was then known as SILVERDOCS and came to be called AFI DOCS,” Sitney told WTOP. “A couple of years ago, we learned that AFI DOCS was no longer going to be here in our region, so my partner, Jamie Shor, and I felt that D.C. was a really important place for documentary film and we wanted to ensure its continuity, that it would have a major premiere platform.”

Documentary screenings will be held mostly at the Eaton Cinema at the Eaton Workshop, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library and the Edlavitch DCJCC, as well as special events at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Archives and the National Portrait Gallery.

“An incredible film festival is coming your way,” said Sitney. “We have over 60 films with nearly all filmmakers in attendance with some of the most acclaimed, compelling documentaries of the season, many of them world premieres, U.S. premieres and all of them D.C. premieres.”

The lineup kicks off Thursday, June 15, with “Joan Baez I Am a Noise” at the National Portrait Gallery.

“This is an incredibly intimate and moving portrait of her life, work, music, her activism, all of the years in the industry, the way she changed and the way the industry changed,” Sitney said. “What’s so exciting is that our post-screening experience includes the legend herself, Joan Baez, who will be joining us for a conversation with one of the co-directors and the film critic of The Washington Post, Ann Hornaday.”

It continues Friday, June 16, with Peter Nicks’ documentary “Anthem” at the MLK Library.

“It follows two incredible musicians, Kris Bowers and Dahi, as they travel around the United States exploring both the origins of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ and, more in particular … what would it look like if it were trying to communicate the America that we are today,” said Sitney. “This journey takes them to all of these important musical homes like Detroit, New Orleans and Memphis to speak with Indigenous musicians from those regions.”

It continues Saturday, June 17, with hidden figures of “The Space Race” at the MLK Library.

“When you think about NASA, I think many of us have similar astronauts that come to mind and iconic imagery, but rarely do we get a sense of the profound contribution that Black astronauts have made,” Sitney said. “This film is trying to bring that into light and into visibility, both to shine a light on their tremendous contributions, but also to examine the ways in which many Black astronauts, engineers and pilots have been left out of the pipeline.”

It all wraps Sunday, June 18, with the North American premiere of “The Body Politic” at the MLK Library.

“This film tells the story of Mayor Brandon Scott, the youngest mayor currently active in Baltimore and explores his legacy that he’s still in the midst of building, what it took to be taken seriously to lead the city and the work that he’s doing to revitalize the city and essentially deal with racial systemic injustices,” Sitney said. “It’s a really incredible portrait of a man, a city, of generations, of politics, the power to make change and grassroots uprising.”

Find more information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews DC/DOX (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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