For one week of the year, downtown Silver Spring feels a little like Hollywood. But instead of glitz, glamor and fiction, there’s emotional, thought-provoking true stories.
The AFI-Discovery Channel Documentary Film Festival announced its full program today for the June 20-26 festival. Full of guest speakers, world premieres and panel discussions, this internationally-recognized film festival brings the best new documentaries to the Washington D.C. area and is the largest doc festival of its kind in the U.S.!
Headlining the festival this year are The Swell Season, Revenge of the Electric Car and The Interrupters. From the serious to the sad, to the comical and just plain fun, SilverDocs celebrates all types of documentaries and is sure to have a film that will strike your interest.
Tickets, showtimes and festival passes are available through SilverDoc’s website, http://silverdocs.com/. They’ve got the full lineup of films as well as the competition slate for the festival’s five awards.
With one of SilverDocs’ awards being the always-popular Audience Award, I’m putting on my critic’s cap and taking you through the docs I’m most excited to see. Keep reading to learn more and watch the trailers! NOW UPDATED TO THE TOP-TEN FILMS!!!
1. Page One: Inside the New York Times- 5:00pm Wednesday, June 22
Incredibly relevant to my own line of work as well as anyone interested in the future of journalism, Andrew Rossi spends a year at the New York Times media desk to bring all the news that’s fit to print to the big screen. This all-access pass shows how the top journalists in the game report on the financial crisis while dealing with it themselves and shares the backstory of Julian Assange before Wikileaks was a household name. From embracing social media like Twitter to dealing with job layoffs and a shrinking paper circulation, this fly-on-the-wall doc can is a fascinating eye-opener to anyone unfamiliar with the industry and an all-too-somber remainder of the dire state of things for those who are.
2. The Bully Project- 2:30pm Wednesday, June 22 & 7:45pm Friday, June 24
In a word- powerful. This timely documentary by Lee Hirsch addresses the very serious, and even deadly, issue of bullying and how it affects children and families in different ways. The gut-wrenching stories and emotions these kids share just in the trailer can connect with everyone at some point in their lives.
3. At the Edge of Russia- 12:45pm Thursday, June 23 & 10:00am Sunday, June 26
I’ll admit that because I work for a Russian news channel, my ears perk up whenever I hear the word Russia. Still, this dark and solemn film by Michael Marczak almost feels like it should be a psychological thriller. Isolated in the country’s frozen northern border, the doc follows a 19-year-old recruit eager to serve the Motherland. But with the threat of war unlikely, the young recruit instead deals with the harsh environment that surrounds him; both from nature and from his superiors. It’s a serious film that will take added investment since it’s subtitled.
4. Hell and Back Again- 11:45am Wednesday, June 22 & 3:00pm Thursday, June 23
The sights and sounds of war can be even more unimaginable when shot with an HD-DSLR. Danfung Dennis introduces us to US Marine Corps Sgt. Nathan Harris has he battles both in the fields of Afghanistan and with returning to normalcy back in the states. This powerful journey seems to call attention to the disturbing fact that for many veterans, the toughest part of war is coming home.
5. Living for 32- 12:00pm Wednesday, June 22
Regardless if you knew anyone at Virginia Tech or not, all our hearts went out the entire hokie community on April 16, 2007 after a brutal massacre left 32 students dead and 17 injured. Three years after the shooting, Kevin Breslin shows us that one of those survivors is taking a stand. Borrowing from Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine,” this doc tracks Colin Goddard, a 21-year-old hokie who was shot four times, as he transforms from a college senior to a gun-control activist. Perhaps not the most original doc in terms of subject matter, but one that still asks the question, “when is enough, enough?”
6. Revenge of the Electric Car- 7:30pm, Saturday June 25 & 4:15pm Sunday, June 26
I know I already plugged it but it’s not often that you get sequels to documentaries! Director Chris Paine follows up to his 2006 doc, “Who Killed the Electric Car?,” by focusing on four entrepreneurs racing to create a fast, furious and clean electric car. This film looks fun and entertaining but tows the line of asking if we’re on the edge of epic change or epic disaster?
7. Where Soldiers Come From- 12:15pm Thursday, June 23 & 2:45pm Saturday, June 25
With Afghanistan now the longest war in America’s history, it shouldn’t be surprising that so many filmmakers are focusing on the war and the soldiers that experience it. But whereas most docs seem to focus on the fighting and veterans’ struggling to rebuild their lives once they return, Heather Courtney was able to capture the lives of three teenagers before they become soldiers. Following these guys from their small Michigan town all the way to Afghanistan and back again, this doc shows a poignant portrait of the young men who fight our wars and the families and communities they leave behind.
8. Dragonslayer- 10:30pm Wednesday, June 22 & 9:30pm Friday, June 24
Alright, enough of the serious stuff and time for some fun! First-time director Tristan Patterson follows the zany semi-pro skateboarder Josh “Screech” Sandoval as he drifts between his sport and recession-wracked home in Southern California. This doc looks to be full of skater shenanigans and wicked-sweet video, but I have a feeling there’s more to it than that.
9. The Loving Story: A Long Walk Home- 2:45pm Thursday, June 23 & 7:30pm Friday June 24
After reporting on multiracial Americans, including the Loving’s story, for a summer, I’m interested to see Nancy Buirski’s in-depth look into the lives of Mildred and Richard Loving. Exiled from Virginia because of their interracial marriage, the couple took their case to the Supreme Court and on June 13, 1967 overturned Virginia and 15 other state’s anti-miscegenation laws that prohibited the marriage of difference races.
10. Catching Hell- 4:30pm Friday, June 24 & 9:15am Sunday, June 26
This one is for the sports fans out there. Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney examines one of baseball’s most infamous moments of modern times; when ordinary fan ( turned most-hated man in Chicago) Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball that outfielder Moises Alou intended to catch during game six of the 2003 National League Championship Series. Gibney looks at the public outrage and media firestorm that engulfed Bartman once the Cubs lost the series.