Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, the first comprehensive documentary about the extraordinary life of poet, author, activist, Dr. Maya Angelou, received the audience award for best feature at the AFI Docs film festival that was held this past weekend in Washington DC.  The festival featured 93 films from 30 countries, and brought together filmmakers and national policy/opinion leaders.

This film is the incredible story told by Dr. Angelou herself alongside a remarkable cast of contemporaries from her careers as an actress, writer, poet and activist.   Directed by Rita Coburn Whack and Bob Hercules, it chronicles Angelou’s life from her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas and St. Louis, where she was raped at the age of 7, to her struggles to make a living as a dancer and singer while raising her son, Guy B. Johnson.  Over the course of the documentary, we see her overcome adversity and rise to international prominence.  The film gives us a deeper understanding on how the events of history, culture, and the arts shaped her life.  With over 20 interviews from close friends such as Common, Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton and more, the audience will gain greater insight on how Dr. Angelou rose to become an empowering voice for women, artists African Americans and millions of people across the globe.

“Maya Angelou’s story, in a sense, is a story of America from 1928 to 2014 when she died.  She really intersected in the most profound moments: civil rights, women’s rights, and the Harlem Renaissance.  All of those things are interwoven with her own story. No one lives in a vacuum.”  – Bob Hercules, Director

“It was also important to respect Angelou’s life with the documentary. Many people don’t know Angelou as a wife, as a mother, as a young woman who struggled.” – Rita Coburn Whack

The documentary made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year as part of the Documentary Premieres, and was one of 50 documentary features selected for the IFP’s esteemed Project Forum at Independent Film Week last year.  Additional film festival screenings over the next few months can be found HERE.

Check out the beautiful clip released by AFI Docs Film Festival with footage from Dr. Angelou’s days as a calypso singer/dancer along with interviews with Diahann Carroll and Don Martin.