The full slate for the third-annual Meet the Press Film Festival has been announced, in collaboration with the American Film Institute, the festival will showcase more than 20 issue-based short films from five countries, on Oct. 7.
The festival showcases the best in issue-based documentary shorts, bringing together filmmakers,
subjects, audiences and NBC News correspondents in the nation’s capital for unique, thought-provoking
discussions. This year’s films highlight several topics including criminal justice reform, climate change,
immigration, education, racial and gender equality, and more.
Following the festival, select films will be available for streaming at NBCNews.com/MTPFilm and on NBC
News Digital Apps through Nov. 3. In addition, the various programs and tracks will be highlighted
throughout the month of October on Meet the Press and Meet the Press Daily on MSNBC
The lineup for the 2019 Meet the Press Film Festival with AFI will feature eight thematic tracks and in-
depth moderated conversations with filmmakers, industry experts and film subjects following each
JUSTICE FOR ALL – As part of an NBC News network-wide initiative inspired by Lester Holt’s work on
criminal justice reform, these films highlight the stories that captivated the nation and put a spotlight on
the advocates, organizations and lawmakers finding life-changing solutions in the fight against the drug
epidemic, mass incarceration, and more.
St. Louis Superman: Directed by Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan, USA. Bruce Franks Jr. is a
34-year-old battle rapper, leading Ferguson activist and state representative from St. Louis,
Missouri. Known as ‘Superman’ to his constituents, he’s a unique political figure — full of
contradictions and deep insights and overcame unspeakable loss to become one of the most
dynamic and unapologetic young leaders in the country. This verite documentary follows Bruce at
a critical juncture in his life as he’s forced to deal with the mental trauma he’s been carrying for
nearly 30 years after his nine-year-old brother was shot and killed in front of him.
Church of Safe Injection: Directed by Marshall Crook, USA. On a frigid night in Lewiston, Maine,
church volunteer Kandice Child drives around and illegally distributes fresh needles and the anti-
overdose drug, Naloxone. Kandice knows she can’t stop drug use but by providing clean needles
and support she hopes she can help an ostracized community and maybe save some lives along
The Trial: Directed by Johanna Hamilton, USA. Meet the lawyers tasked with defending 9/11
suspect Ammar al-Baluchi against the U.S. government at Guantanamo Bay.
Kevin’s House: Directed by Jeremy Raff, USA. Kevin Simmers is a former police sergeant in
Hagerstown, Maryland. During his tenure as a narcotics officer, he aggressively pursued drug
arrests—especially those related to heroin. “I believed my entire life that incarceration was the
answer to this drug war,” Simmers says in this documentary from The Atlantic. Then his 18-year-
old daughter, Brooke, became addicted to opioids.
Panel discussion moderated by NBC News chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson.
CLIMATE IN CRISIS: THE FLOOD – As Part One of NBC News’ Climate in Crisis initiative dedicated to
covering the most important issues affecting the environment globally, this program showcases how
populations across the globe face new challenges protecting their shorelines and managing water rights.
Water’s Edge: Directed by David Hall and produced by NBC News Strategic Content for Nightly
Films, USA., USA. Louisiana loses a football field of land every 100 minutes to coastal erosion
and rising sea levels. As water closes in on Southern Louisiana, the state’s ambitious restoration
plan is intended to build new land in the bayous and marshes. But that plan threatens to flood
rural communities and severely affect the commercial fishing industry, currently ranked second
largest in the U.S.
The River Is Me: Directed by David Freid, New Zealand. For many years, this river’s ownership
was under dispute. Now, it owns itself. For the first time ever, legal personhood has granted to
the Whanganui River. But determining where a river ends and the rest of nature begins is up for
Panel discussion moderated by Meet the Press moderator and NBC News political director Chuck Todd.
CLIMATE IN CRISIS: THE FIRE – The Part Two of the Climate in Crisis initiative, these films highlight
the catastrophic impact of wildfires and how communities throughout the world are tackling a shrinking
water supply and major droughts.
Fire in Paradise: Directed by Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari, USA. On the morning of Nov.
8, 2018, a seemingly small fire broke out in Butte County, California near the town of Paradise.
Over the course of a few short hours, the camp fire grew into the country’s deadliest wildfire in
over a century, killing 85 people and destroying Paradise. Through first-hand footage of the
disaster and personal interviews with survivors and emergency responders, Fire in Paradise
vividly retells the terrifying survival stories from that day.
Scenes From A Dry City: Directed by François Verster and Simon Wood, South Africa/USA.
What happens when a major metropolitan area runs out of water? In Cape Town, South Africa,
residents fear the arrival of “Day Zero,” when the city’s taps will be shut off.
Panel discussion moderated by MSNBC host Katy Tur.
RISKING IT ALL – Immigration is one of the biggest hot-button issues facing Americans, and lawmakers
in Washington. This track highlights the many sides of the immigration debate and sheds a light on the
harrowing stories of those awaiting asylum and fleeing their homelands.
Follow the Sun: Directed by JoeBill Muñoz, USA. Follow The Sun captures the liminal moments
of Central American men who are awaiting asylum in the U.S. and are caught between grave
danger and the hopes of a better life.
Torn Apart: Directed by Ellen Goosenberg, USA. Directed by Oscar ® and Emmy ® winner Ellen
Goosenberg Kent, this documentary follows the story of two mothers who were separated from
their children in the U.S. for months and who fled danger in their homelands and sought asylum.
Both mothers work with pro-bono lawyers and volunteers to reunite with their kids, who have
been placed thousands of miles away with little access to communication. These stories
illuminate the ongoing crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and reveal how separated families are
forced to navigate a complex system while desperately attempting to reunite with their children.
Executive produced by Elli Hakami and Julian P. Hobbs for Talos films.
Panel discussion moderated by NBC News and MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT – Unique stories of young people here in the U.S. breaking barriers, taking a
stand for what they believe in and fighting for equality, respect and a sense of belonging.
Mack Wrestles: Directed by Taylor Hess and Erin Sanger, Brazil. The sport is brutal enough.
There are the demands for strength and speed and stamina, the hours bathed in sweat, the
knowledge that your opponent wants to wipe the mat with you. Those were the very reasons,
though, that Mack Beggs loved wrestling—it gave him a sense of purpose and a sense of self.
Mack Wrestles, co-directed by Taylor Hess and Erin Sanger, takes the audience behind the
scenes as this gifted athlete from Euless, Texas, struggles against the outside forces that
stigmatize transgender athletes. Despite all the turmoil, this poignant film makes one thing
perfectly clear: If life were a wrestling match, the referee would be raising Mack’s arm at the end.
Lowland Kids: Directed by Sandra Winther, USA. As climate change reshapes the Louisiana
coast, the last two teenagers on Isle de Jean Charles fight to stay on an island that’s been their
family home for generations.
GIRLS SECTION: Directed by Kathryn Everett, USA. GIRLS SECTION tells the story of a quiet
revolution growing among young girls in remote northern Pakistan as they challenge tradition for
their right to go to school for the first time.
Panel discussion moderated by NBC News and MSNBC correspondent Morgan Radford.
YEARNING TO BREATHE FREE – These films follow the largely untold stories of peculiar
circumstances facing different groups and individuals here in America that are fleeing oppression,
challenging paradigms, searching for answers, and taking a stand.
Ghosts of Sugar Land: Directed by Bassam Tariq, USA. In Sugar Land, Texas, the film follows a
group of young Muslim American men as they ponder the disappearance of their friend Mark who
is suspected of joining ISIS.
Enforcement Hours: Directed by Paloma Martinez, USA. In the Bay Area, the San Francisco
Rapid Response Network, along with sister networks across California, serves as the front line of
the local fight against the current wave federal immigration mandates. The network, the first of its
kind in the country, maintains a 24-hour hotline where residents, hoping for quick legal support,
can call to report suspected Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) presence in their
neighborhood. Unexpectedly, the hotline’s volunteers have become stewards for a confused and
scared population, desperate to find answers amid chaos. Using real phone calls, Enforcement
Hours explores this abstract, faceless world. Anonymous callers, their intentions unknown,
punctuate unpredictable movements across San Francisco.
Hiding From China: Directed by Nic Pollock, USA. Washington, D.C. is now home to the largest
community of Uighurs in America. However, Uighurs there say that they are still not safe; many
reports being contacted and threatened by Chinese authorities. In this documentary from The
Atlantic, we hear from Uighurs in the U.S. who are under threat from China.
Atrevidos: Directed by Jorge Gomez, USA. Atrevidos is a documentary about a man who invited
one of the most notorious and controversial leaders of the 20th century, Fidel Castro, to one of
the most afflicted urban areas in the country, the Bronx. Residing in the Bronx for 50 years, Julio
has seen the highs and lows of his neighborhood. In 1995, the U.N. held its 50th anniversary, and
while Mayor Rudy Giuliani invited most of the world leaders to various dinners and events, Julio
decided to have a dinner of his own and invite Fidel Castro to his Sierra Maestra.
Panel discussion moderated by NBC News White House Correspondent Kristen Welker.
LIKE A GIRL – These moving films showcase the stories of fearless young women, both in the U.S. and
abroad pushing boundaries, fighting stigmas and honoring legacies, shedding light on how bravery is
timeless and comes in many forms.
A Love Song for Latasha: Directed by Sophia Nahli Allison, USA. A Love Song for Latasha is a
dreamlike archive in conversation with the past and the present. It reimagines a more nuanced
narrative of Latasha Harlins by excavating intimate and poetic memories shared by her cousin
and best friend.
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl): Directed by Carol Dysinger, USA. This
film tells the story of young Afghan girls learning to read, write, and skateboard in Kabul. After
years of conflict in Afghanistan and with the country still dubbed ‘one of the worst places to be
born a girl,” an organization called Skateistan recruits kids from poor neighborhoods and teaches
them skills so they can join or return to the public school system and get a start in life. For girls,
the chance to skateboard presents a unique experience – to compete, to play, to learn their
strengths and gain courage. The film follows a class of girls at Skateistan growing through the joy
of skating and the warmth of the women who teach them.
Panel discussion moderated by NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell
THE LOST – These films explore the brave stories of people facing the distress and hardship of having
to build new lives following life-altering disasters and unexpected catastrophes.
In The Absence: Directed by Yi Seung-Jun, South Korea/USA. When the passenger ferry MV
Sewol sank off the coast of South Korea in 2014, over three hundred people lost their lives, most
of them school children. Years later, the victims’ families and survivors are still demanding justice
from national authorities.
After Maria: Directed by Nadia Hallgren, USA. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s catastrophic
destruction in 2017, three Puerto Rican women and their families are caught between worlds as
their FEMA housing assistance in New York expires. With the threat of homelessness on the
horizon, After Maria follows these families as they fight to keep their families together and battle
the emotional effects from displacement. Executive produced by Academy Award winner Roger
Panel discussion moderated by Meet the Press moderator and NBC News political director Chuck Todd.
Tickets to the full-day festival in Washington, D.C. at the Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema are now
available for purchase at NBCNews.com/MTPFilm.