Barrie Mowatt and Oliver Stone (Director) 2015

American Documentary and Animation Film Festival Turns 13

Screen more than 200 captivating films March 21–25 at the 13th annual American Documentary and Animation Film Festival.

Amber Juarez Arts & Entertainment

Barrie Mowatt and Oliver Stone (Director) 2015

Barrie Mowatt and Oliver Stone (Director) 2015. 

The American Documentary and Animation Film Festival, the largest event of its kind on the West Coast, is ready roll out the red carpet for its 13th year at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, offering cinephiles from near and far a wide variety of films to capture their imagination.

AmDocs, as locals know it, is an Oscar-qualifying event, meaning films competing in the short documentary category can qualify to compete for an Academy Award. But that’s hardly the festival’s main purpose. “that’s just a benefit,” says Teddy Grouya, the festival’s founder, director, and programmer. “We’re all about a great experience for both the filmmakers and the audiences.”

This month, AmDocs will host screenings of more than 200 films, selected from more than 1,000 submissions. Grouya chooses about 95 percent of the screened films from submissions and the rest based on judging results at other film festivals around the world.

Opening-night festivities will honor actor and director Sean Penn for his latest film, Superpower. The five-day program also includes filmmaker panel discussions.

Late philanthropists Ric and Rozene Supple, original board members of the Palm Springs International Film Festival, inspired Grouya and invested to create the AmDocs event. They renovated the Palm Springs Cultural Center and asked Grouya to help give the venue visibility.

“What we’ve accomplished was beyond their expectations,” Grouya says, adding that the festival helps bring culture and visitors to the Coachella Valley.

Grouya understands that documentaries might not be everyone’s favorite genre but encourages film lovers to look beyond the titles and descriptions. “Be open-minded and come to the films, and you’ll be surprised,” he beams. “A good story is a good story, whether it’s a documentary or narrative or animated work.”