Silverdocs kicks off today in Silver Spring, Maryland with the presence of an NBA superstar, a week of premieres and festival darlings, a comprehensive conference and much more. Sky Sitney, Silverdocs’ artistic director, spoke with realscreen the weekend before the big event about this year’s fest.
‘We kick off with one of our most spectacular opening nights yet, I have to say,’ she says, alluding to the U.S. premiere of Kristopher Belman’s More Than a Game, that features basketball superstar LeBron James and four of his teammates and friends from his high school basketball team in Akron, Ohio. The documentary follows the featured players from their beginnings as a team all the way to the end of their high school careers.
The coach of the team will be in attendance at the screening, as well as each teammate, including James, who will be making his first post-NBA playoff appearance.
‘It’s a fantastic film, but it will also be a really warm and moving experience to bring the team back together with all of the really important people from their lives, [and] to also celebrate the triumph that LeBron has become,’ says Sitney.
‘The rest of the week is dazzling in its own right,’ she furthers, and points out that the big splashy films like the world premiere of Convention, a doc made by eight filmmakers and looking behind-the-scenes at the making of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, are complemented by ‘small, quiet, precious films’ which have popped at some of the most recent festivals.
‘The concurrent conference will expand the conversation from beyond the film into panels and master classes and looks at all sides of the documentary industry at large in terms of production issues, financing, [and] craft, which includes master classes on directing, editing, music composition and one on cinematography,’ she says.
Unfortunately, Muhammad Ali, who’d previously been scheduled to appear at the screening of Facing Ali, is no longer able to attend, but Sitney stressed that the show remains exactly the same and that the conversation with the director and producer after the screening will remain as is.
On Thursday at the Charles Guggenheim Symposium, Albert Maysles will be honored for his five decades of creating iconic films such as Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter and Salesman. The artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude will give a tribute beforehand, as well as filmmaker Barbara Kopple, who was one of Maysles’ protégés. The doc-making legend will be interviewed by Entertainment Weekly‘s Lisa Schwarzbaum.
The event will be capped off by the closing night film The Nine Lives of Marion Barry on June 20, which documents the life and work of former Washington, DC mayor Marion Barry, from his hopeful beginnings as a civil rights leader to his fall from grace.