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AFI, Discovery pan for gold at SilverDocs fest

WASHINGTON — Just weeks after establishing an East Coast presence, the American Film Institute, in partnership with Discovery Communications, has unveiled a documentary film festival.

The SilverDocs fest, named for the AFI’s Silver Theater that opened in Silver Spring, Md., in early April, is skedded for June 18-21.

Kicking off the festivities with the North American premiere of “Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin,” fest event will feature 70 documentary films, chosen from 1,000 entries submitted from 68 countries.

“Because we are in Washington, we have a unique opportunity to debate what these films imply about politics, culture and society,” fest director Nina Seavey said.

Politicos will have plenty of time to pontificate after a screening of “Only in America,” a film examining Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (D-Conn.) historic decision to become Al Gore’s running mate in 2000 as the first Jewish vice presidential candidate, and “We Wuz Robbed,” a 10-minute short by Spike Lee about the contested end of the election, which handed the presidency to George W. Bush.

From football to war

For sports fans, the festival provides “Tight on the Spiral,” a documentary about the art and craft of NFL films. Also on the sked is the late Charles Guggenheim’s final film, “Berga: Soldiers of Another War,” about imprisoned U.S. GIs who were forced to work alongside slave laborers from Nazi concentration camps. Members of the Guggenheim family, several Berga survivors, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Motion Picture Assn. of America prexy Jack Valenti are expected to attend.

The five-day event will end with an appeal to the younger set: a behind-the-scenes look at renowned skateboarder Tony Hawk’s “Boom Boom HuckJam Tour.” AFI and Discovery convinced the city to shut down a street so Hawk can demonstrate his aerodynamic tricks and sign autographs.

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