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Each year, the AFI DOCS Charles Guggenheim Symposium honors a master of documentary film. AFI is proud to recognize the exceptional career of filmmaker Dawn Porter as the 2021 Guggenheim honoree.


Films that make you take action – that’s what director and producer Dawn Porter creates. With an eye for fearless leaders, social change and impactful voices, she is a leading force in today’s documentary community.


A graduate of Georgetown Law Center, Porter’s path to filmmaking took shape after working as a litigator at ABC News. Her first feature, GIDEON’S ARMY (2013), follows three young public defenders fighting against a prejudiced legal system in the Deep South. Since then, Porter has directed and produced award-winning portraits of Civil Rights activist and Congressman John Lewis in JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE (2020) and White House photographer Pete Souza in THE WAY I SEE IT (2020); examined the political influence of a Kennedy in the docuseries BOBBY KENNEDY FOR PRESIDENT (2018); and followed the struggles of reproductive health clinics fighting to keep their doors open in TRAPPED (2016). Her latest project is THE ME YOU CAN’T SEE for AppleTV+, a docuseries in partnership with Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry about mental health.


The 2021 Guggenheim Symposium will pay tribute to this outstanding filmmaker with an intimate interview discussing her career, film clips and a free screening of the recently released feature National Geographic and Hulu documentary RISE AGAIN: TULSA AND THE RED SUMMER. –Sarah Harris