D.C. doc fest sets slate

SilverDocs to screen 89 pics from 43 countries

HOLLYWOOD — Werner Herzog’s “Grizzly Man” and Paul Provenza’s “The Aristocrats” are among films slated to unspool at SilverDocs, the Washington, D.C., area documentary fest presented by the American Film Institute and Discovery Channel.

Third annual event will screen 89 films repping 43 different countries and culled from 1,300 entries. It runs June 14-19 at AFI’s Silver Theater & Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Md.

Features in competition for the $25,000 Sterling Award are Neil Ambramson’s “Bob Smith — USA,” Hubert Sauper’s “Darwin’s Nightmare,” Jeff Zimbalist and Matt Mochary’s “Favela Rising,” Jeffrey M. Togman’s “Home,” Danielle Beverly’s “Learning to Swallow,” Ido Haar’s “Melting Siberia,” Margaret Loescher’s “Pulled From the Rubble,” Mark Becker’s “Romantico,” Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater’s “Rosita” and Susan Stern’s “The Self-Made Man.”

Fest kicks off with the North American bow of Cannes pic “Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream,” Stuart Samuels’ look at the midnight movie phenomenon from John Waters to David Lynch.

“It sets a great tone for the festival,” said event director Patricia Finneran. “It’s a movie about movies, about filmmakers that are pushing the edge.”

Opener is emblematic of the strong push toward entertainment this year, with special slates devoted to music and comedy docs.

Freedom of expression

Fest’s other key theme is freedom of expression, exemplified by politically themed pics including Rachel Boynton’s “Our Brand Is Crisis,” which follows Washington consultants in South America and other countries, and Marshall Curry’s “Street Fight,” about a Yale law school grad’s tumultuous quest to unseat Mayor Sharpe James of Newark, N.J.

These films aim to create a space “where conventional wisdom is turned on its head,” said Discovery Communications spokesman David Leavy. “If you’re watching a film that you agree with and you’re saying, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah,’ that’s not the best use of the art form.”

SilverDocs will also host programs for international and short selections, as well as a section that supports filmmakers from developing countries, sponsored by the Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam. An international docu conference is also skedded for June 14-19.

Closing night will be devoted to laffers, with screenings of “The Comedians of Comedy” and “Aristocrats” as well as a panel comprising cast and crew members from both films, moderated by Time magazine reporter and standup comic Matt Cooper.

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