Silverdocs is not only Washington’s best film festival IMHO, it’s also one of the world’s best all-documentary festivals. It gets under way tonight at the AFI Silver in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring (here is the site with link to a complete schedule) though, as usual, with a red-carpet event that I, as usual, will avoid. EVERYMAN’S JOURNEY is about a Journey tribute band whose lead singer gets a tryout to replace Steve Perry and doesn’t stop believin and holds onto feeeliiii-iiiing (sorry, Scott … I embrace #hackstamp with ooohhhhpen aaaaaaaarms).
The real action at Silverdocs gets under way tomorrow. At last year’s fest there were a lot of political-related films, ranging in POV diversity all the way from the liberal-left through the radical-left to the psychotic-left. (Seeing a lot of these films at one time, though, does give you a better sense of what the good ones are and what they do right — why INCENDIARY or BETTER THIS WORLD are miles-better films than HOT COFFEE or BLACK POWER MIXTAPE.) As for this year’s fest … well, Sonny told me not to bother when he told me there were no Russian snuff films, but I decided to ignore him.
This year, the theme seems to be art and artists, broadly defined. Without particularly trying and while deliberately avoiding what smell like local-band-fandocs, I’m still gonna be seeing about 6 or 7 such films, ranging from a portrait of one of Pee-Wee Herman’s collaborators to a tale of a painting looted by the Nazis during the war. I’ll start watching stuff consistent with work schedule and then be camped out Friday and Saturday. I’ll also see what wins the big prizes and may accordingly attend one of the post-fest “Winners” screening. Unfortunately for me, the arguably best event — a thorough retrospective of the PARADISE LOST film-makers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, from BROTHER’S KEEPER to their latest on Sun Records — will be inaccessible to me because of when the films are playing. Others should definitely check it out though.
Annyhoo … here is my schedule for the week, either as encouragement or deterrent. (And yes, I couldn’t resist a pairing of THE SOURCE and LA SOURCE.)
Tuesday, 19 June
1215pm THE VIRGIN TALES (Mirjam Von Arx, Germany/Switzerland)
900pm BEWARE OF MR. BAKER (Jay Bulger, USA)
Wednesday, 20 June
1115am THE AMBASSADOR (Mads Brugger, Denmark)
Thursday, 21 June
1130am CHINA HEAVYWEIGHT (Yung Chang, Canada/China)
Friday, 22 June
1030am DETROPIA (Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, USA)
115pm PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY (Ross McElwee, USA)
515pm DIANA VREELAND: THE EYE HAS TO TRAVEL (Lisa Immordino Vreeland and Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, USA)
715pm ONLY THE YOUNG (Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims, USA)
915pm DRIVERS WANTED (Joshua Weinstein, USA)
1045pm THE SOURCE (Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos, USA)
Saturday, 23 June
945am LA SOURCE (Patrick Shen, USA/Haiti)
1215pm PLANET OF SNAIL (Yi Seung-jun, South Korea)
215pm DOWNEAST (David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, USA)
530pm BEAUTY IS EMBARRASSING (Neil Berkeley, USA)
745pm TIME ZERO: THE LAST YEAR OF POLAROID FILM (Grant Hamilton, USA)
1015pm TCHOUPITOULAS (Bill Ross and Turner Ross, USA)
Sunday, 24 June
1015am PORTRAIT OF WALLY (Andrew Shea, USA/Austria)
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