Five Slices of Life at AFS Doc Days

Memory, subjectivity, and nudism all under the truest of lenses

AFS Doc Days, AFS Cinema's annual exploration of the best, most incisive, educational, and entertaining tales of true life, returns tonight. Founded in 2018 as an amplification of the Doc Nights series, the minifest proves there's more to stories than just fiction.

From legends of the form like Werner Herzog to local documentarians like Heather Courtney, Ivete Lucas, and Patrick Bresnan, Doc Days presents 10 features and a curated selection of shorts that truly prove this is the golden age of documentaries – and we've selected our own slate that includes some of the most intriguing glimpses into the lives of others.

AFS Doc Days runs May 25-28 at AFS Cinema, 6259 Middle Fiskville,

The Eternal Memory

The Eternal Memory

This year's opening night selection has an additional bittersweet edge to the screening as one of its subjects, Chilean journalist and filmmaker Augusto Gongora, died a week ago. Maite Alberdi's documentary gives an intimate look into his final years and most especially his relationship with his wife, actress Paulina Urrutia. Both enacted major changes in Chilean cultural life – she as a union activist and president of the National Council of Culture and the Arts, he as an academic and member of the Televisión Nacional de Chile – but Alberdi concentrates on their deep love for each other, and how they faced Gongora's debilitating Alzheimer's diagnosis.

Thu., May 25, 7pm

Naked Gardens

Naked Gardens

Erstwhile Austin filmmakers Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan got a lot of exposure (hem-hem) for their AFS Grant-supported journey to the Sunsport Gardens Family Naturist Resort, a clothing-optional community in Florida. The Tribeca-selected documentary avoids all sense of prurience and voyeurism, instead simply depicting life inside a community that faces an uncertain future, both from the outside world and the friction between naturists and "textiles." A rare opportunity to see the film we called "a depiction of a place in which people are happy at their barest" on the big screen.

Fri., May 26, 8:45pm



Could there be a more perfect screening location for a documentary about documentaries than a festival of documentaries? Filmmaker Jen Tiexiera creates a feedback loop by talking to the subjects of famous, even landmark, documentaries like Hoop Dreams, The Staircase, Capturing the Friedmans, and The Wolfpack and letting them discuss the moral obligations of documentarians to the people they are exposing to sudden celebrity status.

Sat., May 27, 2:15pm

Texas Shorts

"The Paint Wizzard," part of Texas Shorts

Four of the best short documentaries from AFS-backed women filmmakers, inclding Alejandra Aragon's "Disrupted Borders," Amy Grapell's "Kinderland," "Men Who Talk" by Cristin Stephens, "The Paint Wizzard" by Jessie Auritt and Jessica Wolfson, and the latest from Where Soldiers Come From director Heather Courtney, "For the Record," about the final days of The Canadian Record, a small newspaper in rural Texas.

Sunday, May 28, 11am

Theater of Thought

Theater of Thought

Werner Herzog's documentaries have become as significant a body of work as his earlier radical and provocative dramas. For his latest, he looks inward and beyond himself for an examination of the human brain and our limits of our understanding of its ecstatic mysteries. Older but no less fascinated by possibilities, this is Herzog questioning the limits of our hubris (his favorite subject). How can we hope to replicate what we cannot comprehend, he asks, and what do we lose in our desperate quest to simplify its mysteries to chatbots?

Sunday, May 28, 2pm

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Five Things, AFS Doc Days, Austin Film Society, Subject, Theater of Thought, Werner Herzog, Jen Tiexiera, Naked Gardens, Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan

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