SilverDocs Picks 75 Films for Second-Annual June Festival
by Sandra Ogle
The second-annual SilverDocs, the American Film Institute and Discovery Channel's documentary film festival has finalized its 2004 festival lineup; the festival will be held in Silver Spring, Md. (a suburb of Washington, D.C.) from June 15-20. Marjan Safinia and Joseph Boyle's "Seeds," a portrait of a summer camp in Maine where children from Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, and other countries brainstorm brighter futures for their countries, will have its world premiere on the festival's opening night. The D.C. premiere of Jehane Noujaim's lauded "Control Room" will be on June 16, followed by a discussion with Noujaim, former Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke, and Al Jazeera journalist Hassan Ibrahim. Another festival highlight is the preview of George Butler's new film, "Tour of Duty," which focuses on Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's war stance.
In its first year, SilverDocs attracted more than 10,000 people during its four-day run and an estimated 20,000 people attended Community Day, the closing event of the festival. This year, seven international and nine U.S. films will premiere among the 75 films selected out of 1,200 submissions. During the festival, 11 of these films will compete for a $25,000 award.
Among the competing features, Rithy Panh's "The People of Angkor" documents the bloody past and hopeful present of natives in Angkor Wat, Cambodia, James Miller's "Death in Gaza" was completed after the filmmaker's death, Carey Schonegevel's "Original Child Bomb" revisits the atomic bombings in Japan through experimental filmmaking, and Jan Krawitz's "Big Enough" examines how dwarfs adapt to an average-sized world.
In the World View section, films include Liz Mermin's "The Beauty School of Kabul," Zana Briski & Ross Kauffman's "Born into Brothels," Tim Nackashi & David Sampliner's "Dirty Work," David Ofek's "No. 17," Murray Nossel's "Paternal Instinct," and more. The On the Road section will screen Jon Muir & Ian Darling's "Alone Across Australia," Reinhard Wulf's "James Benning: Circling the Image," Paul Stekler's "Last Man Standing: Politics Texas Style," and Nina Davenport's "Parallel Lines." SilverDocs will also offer three shorts film programs, in addition to shorts playing with features.
"SilverDocs celebrates the creativity and passion of independent filmmakers and their power to make us think, alter our perspective, and expand our world view," said festival director Patricia Finneran in a prepared statement.
Symposium screenings, featuring both filmmakers and documentary experts, will be held each day of the festival. The second-annual Charles Guggenheim Symposium will honor two-time Academy Award winning director Barbara Kopple. A screening of her 1976 film "Harlan County USA," about the hardships endured by 180 coal mining families during a year-long labor strike, will be screened prior to the symposium's panel discussion featuring Kopple's mentor Al Maysles, a leader in the cinema verite movement. On June 18, a "drive-in" screening of Dick Rude's Joe Strummer doc "Let's Rock Again!" will be held outdoors followed by live music.
Richard Pena, director of the New York Film Festival and program director for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, will serve as chair of the festival jury. The festival will be held in the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, a restored 1938 art deco theater, in downtown Silver Spring.
The SilverDocs International Documentary Conference will be held concurrently from June 16-18, bringing together filmmakers, funders, programmers, and other industry executives for networking sessions, master classes, panel discussions and more.
More information can be found at http://www.silverdocs.com.