AmDocs 2023: Awards, recap and the glowing reviews

Thank you all who made the 2023 American Documentary and Animation Film Festival such a success. This is our first newsletter, and we start by recapping the award winners.

2023 AmDocs Awards

Best Animation:  Absolution, Parsin

A famously unsolved true-crime story describes a woman whose skeleton was found in the hollow of a tree, with no clues as to how she got there except for an ominous graffiti nearby, reading “Who put Bella down the Wych Elm”.

Best International Feature: Motu Haka

The fight of the Marquesas Islands is a fight for history, for identity. A fight for future generations; a fight for humanity. This is the fight of the Marquesas Islands.

Best Domestic Feature: Planet of the Humans

Can green energy solve the problem of society’s expanding resource depletion without reducing consumption and population growth? 

Executive produced by Michael Moore, this controversial work is sure to shake our beliefs regarding sustainability. 

Best Short Documentary: Flightpath

When Sarah loses her boyfriend in a plane crash, she dives into a project studying bird mortality for a wind turbine company in the California desert. Working at night all alone for over a year, she comes to terms with her grief through her relationship with her tracking dogs as they catalog remains.

Sadie Katz Award: The Healer

Having been raised amongst a traditionally conservative Christian community, Dr. Ebtesam Islam, an American Muslim pulmonologist in Lubbock, Texas, leans on her faith and community to cope with stress and anxiety, while saving lives and staying hopeful.

Mark Your Calendars

The 2024 American Documentary and Animation Film Festival will be March 21-25. We are looking forward to growing our festival and we hope you will join us. 

AmDocs Recognition

In MovieMaker magazine, it says, “The desert festival about 100 miles east of Los Angeles is known for encouraging people to mix it up: Filmmakers are welcome to stay in the homes of festival supporters, and get many chances to meet with distributors, press and industry guests at all events. Its Film Fund Pitch Competition has helped sell films to HBO, PBS, MTV, Showtime and more. 

View the full article at:

Filmmaker News

Olivia Yarvis, who screen her documentary, “Feeling of Betrayal” as part of the Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism group, started her new job with the Boston Globe. Her first feature was on the 10-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing, where she spoke to readers, who shared their memories. Her video accompanied this story:

Yarvis’ documentary, “Feeling of Betrayal” was part of a project she did for The Texas Tribune. You can find her story and documentary here:

Note: If you have filmmaker news you would like to share, please email Leighton Ginn at 

2023 AmDocs Highlights on YouTube

A look back at the 2023 festival on YouTube.

Kenyatta Do Not Wait Your Turn Q&A

Planet of the Humans Q&A

Michael Moore Q&A

Killing Me Softly Q&A

John Bayless performance following “Left Alone Rhapsody”

Opening Night performance from Mt. Calvary Church 

First song

Second song

Environmental Q&A (program 29)

What They Are Saying

This festival is awesome. The staff and volunteers were kind and very communicative. The festival itself felt filmmaker-focused. An the venue was so cool! A truly amazing experience.

-Nicholas Manting Brewer, “Danny”

Amazing film festival! It’s our third time being part of this incredible film festival in Palm Springs- all filmmakers should definitely put the American Documentary Film Festival at the top of their list! Incredibly well run and geared towards celebrating filmmakers as well as having enthusiastic film-loving audiences and invested and caring volunteers! The founder and main programmer Teddy and his team make this film festival a truly wonderful experience!

-Ross Munro, “The Moviegoer”

So much fun! Rarely are festivals professional AND fun. Had an absolute blast. I will submit again in the future, and will attend even if I don’t have a film! Can’t recommend Amdoc highly enough.

Jack Nop, “Absolution, Parsin.” 

AmDocs is hands down one of my favorite film festivals. Teddy is an amazing community weaver. The whole team is clearly passionate about films and supporting the people who make them. They go above and beyond to setup home stays so filmmakers can come in person. I love how low key the awards ceremony is so the event doesn’t feel like a tense schmoozing session but is truly about connecting and showing work that doesn’t play the corporate sponsor game.

My family has gone to a major festival in Austin since I was a kid. We loved it, but now my family can’t afford to go and finds the films are too safe of a pick. AmDocs is still true to the heart of what makes film festivals worthwhile weaving together community, artists, and local businesses. I hope it stays true to that vision and hope to come back again!

The Q&As were meaningfully moderated. The special screening and virtual Q&A with Michael Moore was important. The closing night party was perfectly curated with just the right amount of celebration and good company.

Thank you for being the world premiere of our short documentary Dust to Light. We appreciate the support deeply.

-Erika Houle, “Dust To Light.”

Streaming News


“The Pope: Answers” is an original Spanish special featuring Pope Francis and 10 Spanish-speaking young adults between 20 and 25 years old who raise questions and concerns on a wide variety of topics, including: Feminism, the role of women in the Church, reproductive rights, loss of faith, the migration crisis, LGBTQIA+ rights, abuse within the Church, racism and mental health. The meeting took place in June 2022. The show is currently streaming.

Algiers, America” is a five-part documentary that chronicles the journey of Coach Brice Brown, the Edna Karr Cougars, and their quest for a fifth state championship in six years.

Connected to the Cougars are a collection of compelling characters in and out of the school – a passionate community leader and educator, a charismatic marching band leader, and a group of families fighting the epidemics of gun violence and mass imprisonment.

Altogether, the series is a rare, authentic, captivating, candid, and sometimes difficult look at life in a community fighting to be defined by triumph on the football field and far beyond. This limited docu-series will at once break your heart and inspire you with its gripping tale, unforgettable characters, and tribute to possibility.

Streaming begins April 19.

Dear Mama” has two-episode premieres on April 21 on FX and streams on Hulu on April 22.

A deeply personal five-part series that defies the conventions of traditional documentary storytelling to share an illuminating saga of mother and son, Afeni and Tupac Shakur.


Suga: Road to D-Day” The upcoming documentary will follow SUGA of BTS as he travels around the world from Seoul to Tokyo, Las Vegas and beyond in search of musical inspiration for his upcoming album D-DAY. Throughout the documentary, viewers will see the star at his most vulnerable, as he discusses his writer’s block with other musicians, and delves deep into his most traumatic memories to pen lyrics for several of his latest songs. SUGA begins streaming April 21.

Thanks to our sponsors


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