This just in… one of the most respected and revered documentary film festivals in the world, the AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival, has announced its full slate of films for this year’s Festival, which will take place June 20-26, Washington, DC area.
The festival will present 108 films representing 52 countries, selected from 2,011 submissions, with three world, three US and seven east coast premieres, plus five retrospective films and an outdoor screening.
Scanning the lineup list, I immediately noticed 2 titles we’ve previously covered on Shadow And Act, but we will take the time over the next 24 to 72 hours to scrub the list and highlight any titles worthy of this website.
Until then, feel free to dig in yourselves if you’d like. Press release follows below:
AFI-DISCOVERY CHANNEL SILVERDOCS DOCUMENTARY
FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES SLATE
Festival Opens with THE SWELL SEASON
Closes with REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR
Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker 2011 Guggenheim Honorees
AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival announced its full slate of films for this year’s Festival, which will take place June 20-26, 2011 in the Washington, DC area. The Festival will present 108 films representing 52 countries selectedfrom 2,011 submissions with three world, three US and seven east coast premieres, plus five retrospective films and an outdoor screening. Now in its ninth year, AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs honors excellence in filmmaking, supports the diverse voices and free expression of independent storytellers and celebrates the power of documentary to enhance our understanding of the world.
Films will screen in five sections: Sterling US Feature Competition, Sterling World Feature Competition, Sterling Short Film Competition, Silver Spectrum and Spotlight Programs. The Festival will also present a retrospective series of films by Guggenheim honorees Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker and a special “Peacebuilding On Screen” strand organized in collaboration with the United States Institute of Peace.
The Festival also includes the five day International Documentary Conference which celebrates the art and business of documentary storytelling and creates a hothouse environment that connects filmmakers, educators, broadcasters, business leaders, distributors, private and public media, and funders from both established and emerging media markets. Over 1,200 filmmakers and industry professionals will participate in master classes, panels, workshops and pitching forums featuring the world’s leading documentarians.
“This year we received more high-quality submissions than ever before, making it harder than ever to select the films for the 2011 program. The slate represents the very best the documentary form has to offer, covering a wide range of issues and voices, always representing cinematic excellence,” said Sky Sitney, Festival Director. “We are particularly proud to showcase the latest work by documentary luminaries, while introducing new filmmakers to our highly engaged audiences and guests from around the globe.”
Notable filmmakers presenting their work include the Festival’s Charles Guggenheim Symposium honorees, the renowned Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker (DON’T LOOK BACK, THE WAR ROOM, AL FRANKEN: GOD SPOKE, MONTEREY POP, KINGS OF PASTRY); Marshall Curry (IF A TREE FALLS); Whitney Dow (WHEN THE DRUM IS BEATING); Alex Gibney (CATCHING HELL), Steve James (THE INTERRUPTERS); James Marsh (PROJECT NIM);Chris Paine (REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR); Michael Rapaport (BEATS, RHYMES & LIFE: THE TRAVELS OF A TRIBE CALLED QUEST); Jim Whitaker (REBIRTH).
“Also worthy of note”, Sitney added, “are the number of strong films exploring issues of law and order, a subject that has always figured prominently, but this year speaks to a more pronounced focus on eroding civil liberties, false imprisonment, entrapment and explorations into some of our nation’s most high-profile legal dramas. Films like BETTER THIS WORLD, IF A TREE FALLS, HOT COFFEE, INCENDIARY: THE WILLINGHAM CASE, GIVE UP TOMORROW, SCENES OF A CRIME and THE LOVING STORY.”
2011 AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Festival Program
Monday, June 20, 2011
• OPENING NIGHT: THE SWELL SEASON. Starring in the 2007 sleeper hit, ONCE, and winning an Academy Award for best original song (“Falling Slowly”) was just the beginning of a profound artistic journey for folk-rock musicians Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. While riding the wave of their newfound popularity, and with an onscreen romance blossoming into an off screen reality, Hansard and Irglová head out on a two-year world tour with their band, The Swell Season. Filmmakers Nick August-Perna, Carlo Mirabella-Davis and Chris Dapkins in attendance. Special guests to be announced closer to the Festival.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
• SPECIAL SCREENING: Elmo is an instantly recognizable icon that brings joy to people all over the globe on Sesame Street, but who is the man behind the lovable red puppet? BEING ELMO: A PUPPETEER’S JOURNEY traces Baltimore native Kevin Clash’s early beginnings from backyard puppet shows to working with his idol, Jim Henson, and creating one of the most famous puppet characters in the world. Filmmaker Constance Marks, subject Kevin Clash and Elmo in attendance.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
• CENTERPIECE SCREENING:THE INTERRUPTERS. A group of modern-day heroes risk their lives on the mean streets of Chicago to make extraordinary change. Meet the Interrupters – former gang members who inspire hope in their communities as they attempt to disrupt violence as it happens. From acclaimed director Steve James (HOOP DREAMS, STEVIE). Filmmaker and subjects in attendance.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
• GUGGENHEIM SYMPOSIUM: The Charles Guggenheim Symposium honors the legacy of the late four-time Academy Award winning filmmaker, Charles Guggenheim. This year the Symposium celebrates Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker – partners in life and behind the camera – for their collective body of documentary work spanning over fifty years, including DON’T LOOK BACK, THE WAR ROOM, AL FRANKEN: GOD SPOKE and KINGS OF PASTRY. Senator Al Franken will introduce the program.
• OUTDOOR SCREENING: MONTEREY POP takes place on a beautiful June weekend in 1967, at the height of the Summer of Love. The first and only Monterey International Pop Festival roared forward, capturing a decade’s spirit and ushering in a new era of rock and roll. A high-energy, iconic event in music history, the festival featured a wildly diverse mix of talent that included Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Simon and Garfunkel, the Mamas and the Papas, the Who, the Byrds, Hugh Masekela and the extraordinary Ravi Shankar. With his characteristic vérité style, D A Pennebaker captured it all, immortalizing moments that have become legend: Pete Townsend destroying his guitar, Jimi Hendrix burning his, and a career-making performance for Janis Joplin.
Friday, June 24, 2011
• WORLD PREMIERE: NEVER MAKE IT HOME. A masterful music doc about Split Lip Rayfield, a phenomenal Kansas alt-bluegrass band, but also an honest portrait of the late, great Kirk Rundstrom. Ravaged by cancer and given two months to live, Kirk hits the road for an unforgettable farewell tour. Director G.J. Echternkamp in attendance.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
• CLOSING NIGHT: REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR. When the electric car first appeared on the scene in the 1990s, it seemed to hold great promise for the future. That is, until its mass production was abruptly and rather dubiously shut down. Yet today, the electric car is making a triumphant comeback. Director Chris Paine focuses on four dynamic entrepreneurs dedicated to creating a fast, furious and clean electric car that doesn’t require a single drop of foreign oil. Filmmaker and subjects in attendance.
• WORLD PREMIERE: AGE OF CHAMPIONS. A team of trash-talking basketball grandmothers. A feisty 100-year-old tennis player. An indomitable pole-vaulter and his new rival. Washington, DC’s octogenarian Tatum brothers, still swimming like much younger men. These are the elite athletes in AGE OF CHAMPIONS; a film not only about medals won, but also about lives well lived. Director Chris Rufo and subjects in attendance.
AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Competition
AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs supports independent filmmakers by formally recognizing their achievements through our awards program, offering both cash and in-kind prizes to help further their careers. The Silverdocs jurors recognize films in the competition categories as the best new documentary works this year. The jurors may, at their discretion, select films from among the Festival’s competitions to receive special recognition for their unique vision or excellence.
In addition to the three competitive screening selections-US Feature Competition, World Feature Competition and Short Film Competition-the Festival will confer awards in three additional categories:
• Audience Awards will be bestowed upon films based on the results of ballots cast by festival attendees after theater screenings. Features and short films playing in the Competition and Silver Spectrum sections are eligible for Audience Awards.
• The Cinematic Vision Award will be given to a feature film that exhibits excellence and innovation in storytelling.
• WGA Documentary Screenplay Award will be presented to the screenwriter(s) of a feature-length film demonstrating excellence in screenwriting.
The winners from films eligible for the Audience Awards for Best Feature and Short will be announced on Sunday, June 26, 2011, the closing day of the Festival; all other award winners will be announced at the awards presentation on Saturday, June 25, 2011.
STERLING US FEATURE COMPETITION
BETTER THIS WORLD / USA, 2011, 97 minutes (Director: Katie Galloway, Kelly Duane de la Vega)-When two Midland, Texas, activists make Molotov cocktails at the 2008 Republican Convention, a dramatic story unfolds, with multiple domestic terrorism charges, an entrapment defense and a surprising FBI informant. The film sets in high relief the impact the war on terror has on civil liberties and political activism in a post-9/11 world.
BOB AND THE MONSTER / USA, 2011, 85 minutes (Director: Keirda Bahruth)-Bob Forrest first made his name as an outspoken indie-rock hero and popular front man for the band Thelonious Monster. But it is his role as one of the most influential drug counselors in the US today that he would cherish most. Shot over six years, the film offers an inspiring example of how one man was able to overcome his demons and use his success to help others do the same.
THE BULLY PROJECT /USA, 2011, 90 minutes (Director: Lee Hirsch)-Director Lee Hirsch tackles the timely topic of bullying in this sensitive examination of an urgent crisis in American society. The film follows five children and their families over the course of one school year as their lives are affected in different ways by bullying.
DRAGONSLAYER /USA, 2011, 75 minutes (Director: Tristan Patterson)-Few skateboard movies are as vibrant as DRAGONSLAYER, which follows oddball Josh “Screech” Sandoval as he drifts between the skate circuit and an ill-defined but adaptive existence in Southern California’s recession-wracked suburbs. In a setting where nothing seems whole, first-time director Tristan Patterson finds arid beauty, hazy intimacy and a thread of hope.
GIVE UP TOMORROW / Philippines/Spain/USA/UK, 2011, 95 minutes (Director: Michael Collins)-In 1997 two sisters vanished without a trace on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. Paco Larra-aga was sentenced to death for their rape and murder despite overwhelming evidence to support his innocence. Spanning more than a decade, the film chronicles the shocking corruption within the Philippine judicial system and one of the most sensational cases in the country’s history.
INCENDIARY: THE WILLINGHAM CASE / USA, 2010, 102 minutes (Director: Steve Mims, Joe Bailey, Jr.)-In 2004, Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in Texas for the 1991 arson murders of his three daughters despite evidence that the fire wasn’t arson. The film masterfully explores why Willingham has become a cause for arson investigation reform and death penalty repeal. East Coast Premiere.
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI / USA/Japan, 2011, 81 minutes (Director: David Gelb)-A feast for the senses, JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI introduces us to master chef Jiro Ono, proprietor of the revered 10-seat, $300-a-plate Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant in Tokyo. Filmmaker David Gelb offers extraordinary access to the process of preparing the celebrated sushi that has earned Jiro an elite three Michelin stars.
THE LEARNING / USA/Philippines, 2010, 90 minutes (Director: Ramona Diaz)-This absorbing documentary follows four teachers from the Philippines who are recruited to work in the American public school system. Leaving behind husbands, children and extended families who depend heavily on them, Dorotea, Rhea, Grace and Angel spend one year teaching in Baltimore public schools, where they can make up to 25 times their salaries in the Philippines.
THE LOVING STORY / USA, 2011, 75 minutes (Director: Nancy Buirski)-Mildred and Richard Loving never imagined that their unassuming love story would be the basis of a watershed anti-miscegenation civil rights case. But in 1967, when this soft-spoken interracial couple are exiled from Virginia-the only home they have ever known-for the mere crime of falling in love and getting married, they feel they have no choice but to fight back.
OUR SCHOOL / Romania/Switzerland/USA, 2011, 93 minutes (Director: Mona Nicoara, Miruna Coco-Cozma)-Shot over the course of four years, OUR SCHOOL follows the attempt to integrate isolated rural Roma (or gypsy) children into the mainstream school system of Romania. Focusing on seven-year-old Alin, 12-year-old Beni and 16-year-old Dana, this fascinating film takes an unflinching look at the challenges of a longstanding tradition of prejudice.
US Feature Jury: Claire Aguilar, Programming VP, Independent Television Service (ITVS), Chico Colvard, Filmmaker (A FAMILY AFFAIR), Shannon Kelly, former Associate Director, Sundance Institute
STERLING WORLD COMPETITION
AT THE EDGE OF RUSSIA / Poland/Russia, 2010, 72 minutes (Director: Michael Marczak)-Aleksey is eager to serve Mother Russia, but this 19-year-old recruit sees little soldiering while stationed at the country’s frozen northern border. With invasion unlikely, his burly superior’s lessons teach more about isolation, quotidian civil service and drunken paternity than anything else.
BAKHMARO / Georgia/Germany, 2011, 58 minutes (Director: Salome Jashi)-Incredibly visually striking, BAKHMARO is a quiet, unhurried film about the persistence of hope in the face not of tragedy, but of irrelevancy. A restaurant where nobody goes and a staff that serves no one in a building in rural Georgia’s Guria region are at the center of this compellingly claustrophobic documentary. World Premiere.
DONOR UNKNOWN / USA, 2010, 76 minutes (Director: Jerry Rothwell)-Twenty-year-old JoEllen Marsh was raised by two loving mothers in Pennsylvania who used a carefully chosen anonymous sperm donor to create her. When JoEllen discovers an online registry that connects her to several other young adults fathered by the same donor, she reaches out to her newly discovered half-siblings and sets out to meet her biological father when he publicly reveals his identity.
EL BULLI – COOKING IN PROGRESS / Germany/Spain, 2010, 108 minutes (Director: Gereon Wetzel)-Celebrated chef Ferran Adrìa shares the spotlight with his magnificent culinary creations in a film sure to appeal to foodies and non-foodies alike. For six months a year, Adrìa and his creative team close shop on his world-famous El Bulli Restaurant in Spain to prepare for a new season’s menu representing the best in molecular gastronomy.
FAMILY INSTINCT / Latvia, 2010, 58 minutes (Director: Anris Gauja)-A unique chronicle of family gone awry, this film is an unsparing exploration of a Latvian household built on the incestuous relationship between Zanda and her imprisoned brother Valdis, whose pending homecoming creates tremendous frisson.
FIRE IN BABYLON / UK, 2010, 82 minutes (Director: Stevan Riley)-This energetic documentary looks back at the legendary West Indies cricket team that rose to prominence in the 1970s and 80s. Led by the dynamic Clive Lloyd, the team used the game of cricket to battle oppressive forces of prejudice on the playing field through superior athleticism and a bold, insuppressible spirit.
THE FIRST MOVIE / Canada/Iraq/Kurdistan/UK, 2009, 77 minutes (Director: Mark Cousins)-A lyrical and magical look at the power of cinema, director Mark Cousins’ whimsical film explores what transpires after he exposes the children of a small rural village in Iraq to the magic of film. Through their experiences, Cousins shows viewers a side of Iraq that they are rarely allowed to experience.
GRANDE HOTEL / Belgium/Mozambique/Portugal, 2010, 57 minutes (Director: Lotte Stoops)-The Grande Hotel in Beira, Mozambique, once a luxurious haven in the Portuguese colony, is a shadow of its former self since closing in 1963. The film traces the history of the building, from its opening in 1954, with 110 sumptuous guest rooms, to today, when the abandoned hotel serves as a home to more than 2,500 people who live in its crumbling ruins. US Premiere.
EL VELADOR (THE NIGHT WATCHMAN) / Mexico, 2011, 72 minutes (Director: Natalia Almada)-The turmoil of Mexico’s bloodiest conflict since the revolution plays out in subtle yet poignant detail as filmmaker Natalia Almada quietly observes the daily routine of Martin, the night watchman and groundskeeper of the cemetery that houses the remains of Mexico’s most notorious drug lords.
POSITION AMONG THE STARS / Indonesia/Netherlands, 2010, 109 minutes (Director: Leonard Retel Helmrich)-Filmmaker Leonard Retel Helmrich concludes his in-depth three-part portrait of Indonesia as seen through the eyes of one family living in the slums of Jakarta. The Shamuddin family’s anxieties, hopes, and frequent, often hilarious fights culminate in a poignant mosaic of Indonesian life today.
WIEBO’S WAR / Canada, 2011, 92 minutes (Director: David York)-When Wiebo Ludwig moves his sizeable family to the rural plains of northern Canada to live closer to God, the last thing he expects is to be transformed from a holy man into an eco-terrorist. Yet when energy companies start encroaching on his land soon after discovering it lies on Canada’s biggest gas field, Wiebo feels compelled to protect himself and his family from their newly toxic surroundings. US Premiere.
World Feature Jury: Sean Farnel, Programming Director, Hot Docs; Eugene Hernandez, Director of Digital Strategy, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Lucy Walker, Filmmaker (WASTELAND).
STERLING SHORT COMPETITION
5 PICTURES OF A FATHER / Denmark, 2010, 21 minutes (Director: Nadia Josefine El Said)-What does a father mean to a daughter? Filmmaker Nadia Josefine El Said poses that question to a handful of women who share their poignant personal stories, told in beautifully crafted vignettes using stylish graphics, drawings and staged tableaux.
BARBER OF BIRMINGHAM: FOOT SOLDIER OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, THE / USA, 2011, 26 minutes (Directors: Robin Fryday, Gail Dolgin)-When lifelong barber James Armstrong served as a foot soldier in the 1950s civil-rights movement, fighting for all African-Americans to have the right to vote, he could scarcely have imagined the fulfillment of an elusive dream: the election of the first African-American president.
BATHING MICKY / Sweden, 2010, 14 minutes (Director: Frida Kempff)-Ebba “Micky” Heyman has experienced a great deal in her 100 years. As she spends four seasons swimming regularly in the ocean with her friends at a local bathing club, Micky reflects on her remarkable life, including marriage, motherhood and surviving during the Nazi occupation of Denmark.
BLUE RINSE / Ireland, 2010, 11 minutes (Director: Matt Leigh)-Some find solace on a therapists couch, in a pew or on a bar stool, but as this delightful look at a Dublin hair salon that caters to a senior clientele proves, there may be no better spot to find a willing ear than in a stylists chair.
BOWLER, THE / USA, 2010, 14 minutes (Director: Sean Dunne)-A stylish portrait of hustler Rocky Salemmo, a hyper, left-handed New Yorker who has won his share of legitimate trophies but prefers the thrill of rolling for a sucker’s money. He might not be a legend on the lanes, but he’s definitely a glorious talker.
COMIC AUTHOR X-RAY / Spain, 2010, 20 minutes (Director: Marcos Nine)-A fun and convoluted look at acclaimed cartoonist David Rubin, the film creatively blends vérité, interview and animation to explore the way a portrait can be a constructed. In essence, a falsehood of sorts whether as a documentary film, a cartoon or a personal reflection on one’s self-identity.
DAY WE DANCED ON THE MOON, THE / Germany, 2011, 11 minutes (Director: Tristan Daws)-Rollicking reggae band Channel One is no ordinary group: It is made up of extraordinary people living with various mental disabilities. In this lovely short from filmmaker Tristan Daws, the band members travel to western Ireland for a performance and share their thoughts on what it is like to experience the world in a very different way.
FLYING ANNE / The Netherlands, 2010, 2011 (Director: Catherine Van Campen)-Eleven-year-old Anne enjoys riding her bike, climbing fences and jumping on her trampoline, yet she also has to run in circles, always to the right, and lick everything in sight. Anne has Tourettes syndrome, and more than wanting to be like everybody else, she wishes others would understand her better.
FOR MARIA / Sweden, 2010, 14 minutes (Director: Tora Martens)-Anders and Maria struggled before they met each other with addiction, homelessness, abuse and pain. Together, they have built a life of stability and love, revealed through the romantic and inspiring wedding of this extraordinary couple.
GOOD BYE MANDIMA (KWA HERI MANDIMA) / Switzerland, 2010, 11 minutes (Director: Robert-Jan Lacombe)-As a 10-year-old growing up in the small African village of Mandima during the 1980s, Robert-Jan Lacombe, the son of European parents, never thought he would have to say goodbye. In this poignant short, Lacombe looks back on his unique and carefree childhood while studying a panoramic photograph documenting the day he left behind the only way of life he had ever known.
GUANAPE SUR / Italy, 2010, 23 minutes (Director: Janas Richter)-A barren island off the coast of Peru is the breeding ground for thousands of sea birds that are its sole inhabitants. Once every eleventh year, hundreds of men make their way to the island to harvest the birds dried excrement, which is then used as valuable fertilizer. Through gorgeous cinematography and patient observation, Janos Richter offers an intriguing look at a most unlikely of jobs, in the most unlikely of places.
HUMANOIDS / Brazil/ Scotland, 2010, 12 minutes (Director: Mariana Oliva)-Director Mariana Oliva follows a group of scientists working to create robots that are capable of almost anything including playing soccer. This striking film takes a fascinating look into human’s relationship with technology as we move into a future with seemingly endless possibilities.
IRMA / USA/ Mexico, 2010, 12 minutes (Director: Charles Fairbanks)-You may not think it as she shuffles down the streets of Mexico City, but Irma Gonzales was once La Campeona, a superstar of Mexico’s lucha libre wrestling. Charles Fairbanks film presents the audience with a quirky and at times poetic look at this former champion in her golden years.
KISS THE PAPER / USA, 2010, 20 minutes (Director: Fiona Otway)-Letterpress printmaking has experienced a renaissance among design junkies, but it’s always had a refuge in Alan Runfeldt’s barn. He loves the singular beauty of hand-set type, but he feels an even deeper loyalty to his outmoded, cumbersome machines and the purposeful way they put ink on paper.
LIVING FOR 32 / USA, 2010, 40 minutes (Director: Kevin Breslin)-On April 16, 2007, the brutal massacre on the Virginia Tech campus left 32 dead and 17 injured. Twenty-one-year-old senior Colin Goddard was shot four times that day but managed to survive. LIVING FOR 32 is Colin’s harrowing account of his role in the life-changing event that transformed him into a gun-control activist.
LOST EVERY DAY / UK, 2010, 10 minutes (Director: Michelle Coomber)-What would it be like to get lost every day of one’s life? Even in one’s own home? This intriguing film introduces us to a woman who has a rare condition that makes the familiar become frequently unfamiliar, thus requiring her to asses her environment anew each and every day.
MINKA / USA/Canada, 2011, 16 minutes (Director: Davina Pardo)-In 1967 an American journalist and a Japanese architect became the unlikely owners of an enormous rundown farmhouse in Japan, which they transported from the Japanese Alps to the Tokyo suburb of Kamakura. MINKA is an intimate story about architecture, memory and the meaning of home.
MIRACLE ON 22ND STREET / USA, 2010, 7 minutes (Directors: Sarah Klein, Tom Mason)-What would you do if you began receiving hundreds of letters from children at your home addressed to none other than Santa Claus? Two big-hearted New York City men, Jim and Dylan, must deal with this very dilemma when mysterious wish lists to the man in the red suit start regularly appearing in their mailbox.
MOTHERSBANE/ USA, 2010, 12 minutes (Director: Jason Jakaitis)-A dreamlike story of a boy’s relationship to his mother blending conventional footage with Super 8 re-creations of childhood memories to shift between the past and present. This unique approach explores the son’s discomfort, fears and frustrations as his mother struggles to overcome disability.
MR. HAPPY MAN / USA/Bermuda, 2011, 11 minutes (Director: Matt Morris)-One of Bermuda’s most beloved residents, 85-year-old Johnny Barnes knows how to put a smile on people’s faces. For years he has stood at the same busy intersection to wave to people and yell a sincere, “I love you!” to anyone within earshot. An eccentric, to be sure, but one that brings a much-needed ray of sunshine.
MUSHROOMS OF CONCRETE / Belgium/Albania, 2010, 23 minutes (Director: Martjn Payens)-During his 40 years in power, Enver Hoxna built over 250,000 defense bunkers to prepare for a war that never came. With less than three million citizens, building the unsightly shelters drained vital resources and crippled Albanian industry. Presently, Albanians struggle to put the abandoned hollows to productive, creative use.
NIGHT AT THE DANCE / USA, 2011, 13 minutes (Director: Annie Silverstein)-Two-steps and polkas abound in this warm-hearted look at the vanishing Czech dancehalls of Texas, which once numbered over 1,000. Elderly Texans, the descendants of Czech and German immigrants, gather to dance polkas and the two-step at Tom Sefcik Hall, a social hotspot in the community of Seaton, population 60.
OH GOD, DEAR GOD / Poland, 2010, 12 minutes (Director: Julia Poplawska)-Filmmaker Julia Poplawska captures the quiet charm of an elderly Polish couple who observe the world around them from the front porch of their cabin home. Fretting over the most mundane of happenings, this couple conveys beauty in the ordinary and the familiar intimacy that comes from spending a lifetime together.
OIL & WATER / UK, 2011, 10 minutes (Directors: Gemma Atkinson, Fred Grace)-Set against the backdrop of a derelict garage, Darren from the East End of London waxes not so whimsical about his tumultuous love and a rage that can barely be contained.
PASSION / USA, 2011, 7 minutes (Director: Zach Bainter)-Jack Passion is a normal man, a normal man who happens to have a giant beard. Join Jack in the barbershop as he ponders the question of his life to shave or not to shave?
PENULTIMATE / USA, 2011, 4 minutes (Director: Paul Meyers)-A gem-like peek at artist Costas Schuler, who uses pens not only to draw, but as the physical media to build, compile and adorn the world. He sees pens as an untapped source of wealth and dreams of a land of wonders he calls “Pentopia,” built from a million pens.
RAY’S BIRDS / USA, 2010, 7 minutes (Director: Deborah Stratman)-Beautifully shot on 16mm, artist and filmmaker Deborah Stratman offers a tender homage to Ray Lowden and the homegrown aviary he lovingly created to house 72 large birds of prey.
STILL HERE / USA, 2010, 20 minutes (Director: Alex Camilleri)-Randy Baron has been living with HIV for over two decades. In that time, Randy has watched as AIDS ravaged his partner and many friends whose lives were lost to a diagnosis that was considered a death sentence in the 1980s. The film documents Randy’s efforts to carry on and dedicate his life to education and activism.
SURPRISEVILLE / UK, 2010, 10 minutes (Director: Tim Travers Hawkins)-What does it take to make you feel safe from the world around you? In the gated community of Surprise, Arizona some residents rely on the high walls of isolation to keep everything undesirable from permeating the borders of this carefully planned suburban community.
SUSYA / Israel/Palestinian Territories, 2011, 15 minutes (Directors: Yoav Gross, Dani Rosenberg)-When a 60-year-old Palestinian man and his son buy a ticket to visit the archaeological site of an ancient Jewish settlement, it is more than just a tourist attraction to them. It is their former home. Returning to the area following a 25-year forced absence, the father and son soon discover that their presence is less than welcome.
THREE WALLS / Canada, 2011, 16 minutes (Director: Zaheed Mawani)-Is the office cube the essence of efficiency or absurdity? THREE WALLS takes a lighthearted look at the office cubicle, from its well-intentioned creation in the 1960s to its dominance in present-day office architecture.
TOBACCO GIRL / Germany, 2010, 30 minutes (Director: Biljana Garvanlieva)-Mumine, a 14-year-old Turkish girl who works on her family’s tobacco farm, has the hopes of any teenage girl: to catch the eye of her crush and go to college. But her family is focused only on marrying her off to obtain a dowry. Will her struggle for independence win her the life of her dreams?
TUGS / USA, 2011, 10 minutes (Director: Jessica Edwards)-The busy New York harbor sets the backdrop to this delightful film about some of the hardest working and most beloved boats on the waterways: tugboats. While the marine towing industry has evolved over time, the maritime traditions of family, community and hard work persevere.
TWINSET / UK, 2010, 12 minutes (Director: Amy Rose)-A towering British cross-dresser regularly shares tea and cakes with polite silver-haired ladies at a local church in Essex, who accept him unreservedly. He can’t say the same of his own mother. In TWINSET, filmmaker Amy Rose addresses issues of identity, love and affirmation with a playful touch.
TWO / Australia/UK, 2010, 17 minutes (Director: Maya Newell)-Julian is a middle-aged British man who celebrates his birthday every year his second birthday. Fetishistic, voyeuristic and empathetic, TWO documents the second birthday party of a man who longs for the safety of the crib, his favorite nanny and the love and care given to children.
VERA KLEMENT: BLUNT EDGE / USA, 2010, 11 minutes (Director: Wonjun Bee)-As her 80th year approaches, Chicago-based painter Vera Klement is as prolific as ever. Deeply influenced by abstract expressionism, classical music and her experiences as a Holocaust survivor, Klement’s work depicts isolated and alienated objects. This energetic and empathic portrait celebrates an artist’s devotion and unyielding passion.
WATER / USA/Tibet, 2011, 8 minutes (Director: Bari Pearlman)-In rural Tibet, gathering 80 pounds of potable water 3 to 4 times a day is a backbreaking but necessary job. It is also considered women’s work. WATER follows one such woman on this herculean task as she spends hours traveling to and from the local water source, filling up the massive barrel she must carry on her back.
WITHOUT COUNTRY (SIN PAIS) / USA, 2010, 20 minutes (Director: Theo Rigby)-Twenty years ago, Sam and Elida Mejia left Guatemala with their 1-year-old son during a violent civil war and moved to California where they had two more children. Despite working multiple jobs, paying their taxes and saving enough money to buy a home, when immigration agents storm the Mejias house, they all become involved in a lengthy entanglement with the U.S. immigration system, which threatens to lead to deportation and the dismantling of the family.
Short Film Jury: Sadie Tillery, Programming Director, Full Frame; Eva Weber, Filmmaker (STEEL HOMES)
AGE OF CHAMPIONS / USA, 2011, 70 minutes (Director: Christopher Rufo)-The elite athletes in AGE OF CHAMPIONS, a film not only about medals won, but also about lives well lived, include: A team of trash-talking basketball grandmothers; A feisty100-year-old tennis player; and an indomitable pole-vaulter and his new rival. These are Washington, DC’s octogenarian Tatum brothers, still swimming like much younger men. World Premiere.
BALLAD OF GENESIS AND LADY JAYE, THE / USA, 2011, 72 minutes(Director: Marie Losier)-Genesis Breyer P-Orridge has been a key figure of the underground music scene in the pre-punk Throbbing Gristle and post-punk Psychic TV for more than 30 years. Yet his most memorable performance may be when he became a she in an attempt to resemble his beloved partner, Lady Jaye.
BEATS, RHYMES & LIFE: THE TRAVELS WITH A TRIBE CALLED QUEST / USA, 2010, 98 minutes (Director: Michael Rapaport)-Acclaimed actor Michael Rapaport goes behind the camera to document the inner workings and behind-the-scenes drama of one of the most innovative and influential hip-hop bands of all time, A Tribe Called Quest. Rapaport offers unprecedented insight into this seminal band in his remarkably honest and emotional portrait.
BEING ELMO: A PUPPETEER’S JOURNEY / USA, 2011, 76 minutes (Director: Constance Marks)-Elmo is an instantly recognizable icon that brings joy to people all over the globe on Sesame Street, but who is the man behind the lovable red puppet? BEING ELMO traces Baltimore native Kevin Clash’s early beginnings from backyard puppet shows to working with his idol, Jim Henson, and creating one of the most famous puppet characters in the world.
BETTER THAN SOMETHING: JAY REATARD / USA, 2011, 89 minutes (Directors: Alex Hammond, Ian Markiewicz)-BETTER THAN SOMETHING documents the prolific and notorious career of the late Jay Reatard, an iconic underground garage rocker. Through candid interviews about his 15-year career, the film captures a remarkably open and eerily prophetic depiction of the rocker only months before his untimely death. East Coast Premiere.
BLACK POWER MIXTAPE, THE (1967-1975) / Sweden/USA, 2010, 96 minutes (Director: Göran Hugo Olsson)-Assembled from forgotten 16mm footage, the film focuses on black power leaders such as Stokely Carmichael and Eldridge Cleaver, evoking an era ripe with anger and hope. The film considers the impact of the movement, with thoughtful, contemporary narration and a soundtrack by Questlove and the Roots.
BUCK / USA, 2010, 88 minutes (Director: Cindy Meehl)-Cindy Meehl’s lyrical film profiles the real-life inspiration for the bestselling book and hit film THE HORSE WHISPERER, Buck Brannaman. Based on his own harrowing experiences growing up, Buck’s remarkable rapport with animals helps fix horses with people problems.
CAFETERIA MAN / USA, 2011, 65 minutes (Director: Richard Chisolm)-Tony Geraci’s job was to provide healthy food in Baltimore’s schools, and his successes earned attention far beyond Maryland. He also found that some things aren’t so easy in a bureaucratic educational system. The film tracks Geraci’s quest to change how a community thinks about school lunches and how it thinks about its children.
CATCHING HELL / USA, 2011, 103 minutes (Director: Alex Gibney)-Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE) examines the infamous Steve Bartman incident in CATCHING HELL. When baseball fan Bartman deflected a foul ball that outfielder Moises Alou intended to catch during game six of the 2003 National League Championship Series between the Florida Marlins and the Chicago Cubs, in a single instant Bartman became the most hated man in Chicago.
DESPICABLE DICK AND RIGHTEOUS RICHARD / USA, 2010, 79 minutes (Director: Joshua Neale)-Sixty-eight year old chronic rascal Dick Kuchera has spent a lifetime alienating everyone in his path with his rude, dishonest and obnoxious behavior. On a self-proclaimed path to righteousness, Dick is working a 12-step program to make amends with all those he has wronged over the years, including former friends, wives, lovers and business associates.
GOOD MAN, A / USA, 2011, 86 minutes (Directors: Bob Hercules, Gordon Quinn)-A GOOD MAN follows choreographer Bill T. Jones as he and his company create an ambitious performance piece in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s bicentennial. This dynamic and energetic film explores ideas of race, history and identity as Jones struggles to dramatize the story of Lincoln through dance, music and theater. East Coast Premiere.
HELL AND BACK AGAIN / UK/ USA/Afghanistan, 2011, 88 minutes (Director: Danfung Dennis)-Brilliantly shot using a DSLR camera, HELL AND BACK AGAIN is a powerful and intimate portrait of US Marine Corps Sgt. Nathan Harris in the midst of combat in Afghanistan and his subsequent physical and emotional struggles to cope with coming home and his devastating war wounds. East Coast Premiere.
HOT COFFEE/ USA, 2011, 88 minutes (Director: Susan Saladoff)-Using the infamous lawsuit against McDonalds for injuries caused by hot coffee as a jumping-off point, this film illuminates the tactics used by big business to fight against the average person’s ability to hold companies responsible for injurious and careless behavior, and to vilify those who dare to sue.
HULA AND NATAN / Israel, 2010, 55 minutes (Director: Robby Elmaliah)-Two endearingly eccentric, irascible brothers live on their ad hoc scrap yard in Sderot, Israel, spending their days trying to fix cars and constantly cursing and insulting one another. Seemingly mystified by normal human relationships, the brothers fight bureaucrats and their own customers, while missiles from Gaza fall from the sky. US Premiere.
IF A TREE FALLS / USA, 2010, 85 minutes (Director: Marshall Curry)-A nuanced portrait of the domestic terrorism trial of activist Daniel McGowan, IF A TREE FALLS explores the provocative activities of the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmentalist group, and explores the FBI’s activities in the case, questioning how we define domestic terrorism.
KARAMAY / China, 2010, 356 minutes (Director: Xu Xin)-An epic and unforgettable achievement in documentary filmmaking, KARAMAY tells the story of a horrific fire that broke out on December 8, 1994, in the Chinese city of Karamay, killing more than 300 people mostly schoolchildren who were participating in a performance for government leaders. Ordered to remain in their seats while the state officials exited first, the children’s stories are heart wrenchingly told by their still-grieving families. This six-hour film will be shown with one 15-minute intermission.
LIFE IN A DAY / UK, 2011, 90 minutes (Director: Kevin McDonald)-What would happen if a team of renowned producers put out a call for people professional filmmakers and non-professionals alike to document what is going on in their lives, whether its epic or benign, on, say, July 24, 2010, and make it available on YouTube? The answer is the mesmerizing LIFE IN A DAY, produced by Tony and Ridley Scott and culled from more than 4,500 hours of videos submitted from 192 countries.
MISS REPRESENTATION / USA, 2011, 90 minutes (Director: Jennifer Siebel Newsom)-As mainstream media becomes a more ubiquitous presence in our everyday lives, its messages gain strength. When women are objectified in media, to what extent does that objectification affect a new generation of girls and women from realizing their full potential?
NEVER MAKE IT HOME / USA, 2011, 76 minutes (Director: G.J. Echternkamp)-A masterful music doc about Split Lip Rayfield, a phenomenal Kansas alt-bluegrass band, but it’s also an honest portrait of the late, great Kirk Rundstrom. Ravaged by cancer and given two months to live, Kirk hits the road for an unforgettable farewell tour. World Premiere.
PAGE ONE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK TIMES / USA, 2010, 91 minutes (Director: Andrew Rossi)-All the news that’s fit to print is resized for the big screen in this captivating look inside the New York Times newsroom over the course of a year.
PRICE OF SEX, THE / USA, 2011, 72 minutes (Director: Mimi Chakarova)-The sex trafficking world of Eastern Europe has many integral players: the women who have been sold and enslaved as prostitutes, the pimps, the crooked cops and the families. Filmmaker and photojournalist Mimi Chakarova takes the audience on an intimate journey through this dark world with unprecedented access.
PROJECT NIM / UK, 2011, 93 minutes (Director: James Marsh)-Blending together testimony and never-before-seen archival footage, James Marsh (MAN ON WIRE) tells the story of Nim, a chimpanzee raised and nurtured like a human child and taught sign language as part of a ground-breaking scientific study.
PRUITT-IGOE MYTH: AN URBAN HISTORY / USA, 2011, 83 minutes (Director: Chad Freidrichs)-On March 16, 1972, the Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis, Missouri, was demolished and declared a spectacular failure. Through archival footage and interviews with former residents and historians, this engrossing film examines what went wrong.
REBIRTH / USA, 2010, 104 minutes (Director: Jim Whitaker)-How do people go on after suffering through unimaginable loss? With countless lives devastated by the terrorist attacks in New York City on September 11, 2001, REBIRTH follows five individuals who were personally affected that day over the ten years since the tragedy. East Coast Premiere.
REDEMPTION OF GENERAL BUTT NAKED, THE / USA, 2010, 84 minutes (Directors: Eric Strauss, Daniele Anastasion)-One of the most feared warlords of Liberia’s First Civil War, Joshua Milton Blahyi was also known as General Butt Naked due to his fondness for fighting in a primal state, wearing nothing but a pair of sturdy boots while wielding his weapons of death. Having stopped fighting in 1996, Blahyi now embarks on a quest to track down and face the people whose lives he destroyed, and ask for forgiveness.
RENEE / USA, 2011, 78 minutes (Director: Eric Drath)-In 1975 Dr. Richard Raskind, a divorced father, underwent gender reassignment surgery and officially became Renee Richards following years of struggling with gender identity issues. When Renee, a natural athlete, embarked on a professional tennis career in her 40s, the controversy that erupted over her attempt to play in the U.S. Open as a woman forced Renee into the spotlight as a pioneer for transgender rights.
RESURRECT DEAD: THE MYSTERY OF THE TOYNBEE TILES / USA, 2011, 88 minutes (Director: Jon Fay)-For nearly 30 years, “Toynbee tiles” have appeared in the streets of DC, Philadelphia and elsewhere, with some variation of the cryptic message, “Toynbee Idea in Movie 2001” or “Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter.” Three tile-obsessed sleuths go looking for the source and meaning of the mysterious tiles, with surprising results.
SCENES OF A CRIME / USA, 2011, 88 minutes (Directors: Blue Hadaegh, Grover Babcock)-Why would anyone confess to a crime he didn’t commit? The film explores the phenomenon of false confessions and the controversial tactics behind them using the disturbing case of Adrian Thomas, a man arrested on suspicion of killing his infant son. After being interrogated mercilessly for 10 hours, Thomas confessed to the crime, despite his previous cries of innocence and medical evidence to the contrary. East Coast Premiere.
SEMPER FI: ALWAYS FAITHFUL / USA, 2011, 75 minutes (Directors: Rachel Libert, Tony Hardmon)-Retired Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger devoted 25 years of service to the U.S. Marines. When his 9-year-old daughter dies from a rare form of leukemia in 1985 while living at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Ensminger wants to know why. His exhaustive search for answers leads him to a shocking discovery: the very organization that was supposed to protect its own-the Marine Corps-has been covering up one of the worst cases of toxic water contamination in history.
SOUND IT OUT / UK, 2011, 78 minutes (Director: Jeanie Finlay)-In the past five years, more than 500 record stores have closed in the UK, but SOUND IT OUT isn’t an elegy to their passing. It’s a celebration of a record store in blighted northeastern England that continues to provide its eclectic clientele a place to discover elusive treasures. East Coast Premiere.
TO BE HEARD / USA, 2010, 87 minutes (Directors: Roland Legiardi-Laura, Edwin Martinez, Deborah Shaffer, Amy Sultan)-Three teens from the South Bronx struggle to change their lives when they start to write poetry. Karina, Pearl and Anthony are enrolled in an alternative poetry workshop called Power Writing. With a trio of dedicated teachers behind them, the teens are encouraged to articulate their dreams on paper and allow the language to lead to transformation in their everyday lives.
WHEN THE DRUM IS BEATING / USA, 2011, 87 minutes (Director: Whitney Dow)-Haiti’s complex history and the resilience of its people unfold in the stories of Septentrional, the country’s most celebrated band, whose unique beats and rhythms continue to thrill its people after six decades. The interwoven stories of the band members’ memories blend with live concerts and rarely seen archival footage, revealing the indomitable spirit of the Haitian people.
WHERE SOLDIERS COME FROM / USA, 2011, 91 minutes (Director: Heather Courtney)-From rural America to Afghanistan and back again, the film chronicles three childhood friends who join the National Guard and find themselves risking life and limb to detonate roadside bombs. This four-year journey follows them from being teenagers stuck in their sleepy northern Michigan town to 23-year-old combat veterans trying to start their lives again.