AFI mixing humor with D.C. politics

Sayles 'City' at film fest

WASHINGTON — With the presidential election getting nastier by the day, the American Film Institute is trying to give the Washington aud a healthy dose of political comedy.

AFI has teamed up with American University to offer the Political Comedy Festival 2004, which will take place Thursday to Sunday at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, Md.

Directors Barry Levinson and John Sayles will highlight a roster of political writers, filmmakers, comedians and journalists skedded to participate in the event being billed as “Hollywood meets Washington.”

Fest will open with a sneak peek of Sayles’ new political satire, “Silver City,” complete with post-screening roundtable discussion led by Sayles. The next day, Levinson will be on hand to reveal just how much real-life politics during the Clinton scandals went into the making of “Wag the Dog.”

Joe Klein, the author of “Primary Colors” will likely field similar questions after the showing of the movie adapted from the book he authored with inspiration from his days reporting on the Clinton White House.

But the fest won’t be all political fiction. AFI and AU aim to explore the relationship between political satire and the public’s overall impressions of candidates, and whether Leno, Letterman, “The Daily Show” and “Saturday Night Live” parodies of politics have any impact at the polls.

Highlights of the fest include a speechwriters panel; a live session of Discovery Times Channel’s “Political Dish”; and a special tribute to Dick Gregory hosted by ABC’s Tony Perkins, featuring Gregory and local political standup comedians. Journalists asking the questions include: NPR’s Pat Dowell, Washington Post’s Desson Thomson, Fox News Watch’s Jane Hall and New York Times’ Todd Purdum.

“Comedians and humorists have become an important, often primary, source of political news and commentary. That makes it imperative to take a look at the context of political humor in its most dominant form: on screen,” said Murray Horwitz, director of AFI Silver Theater.

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