Silverdocs 2010 preview

Gearing up for the upcoming AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival, artistic director Sky Sitney gave realscreen a preview of the big draws at this year's fest and conference.
June 17, 2010

The 2010 Silverdocs documentary festival, taking place in Silver Spring, Maryland, will screen just over 100 films during its seven-day run, beginning on June 21, while the concurrent AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs International Documentary Conference will take place from June 22 to 26.

The festival opens with Freakonomics, directed by a multitude of top doc directors, including Alex Gibney, Rachel Grady, Eugene Jarecki, Heidi Ewing, Seth Gordon and Morgan Spurlock. ‘It’s a no-brainer to want to open with one of the most anticipated documentaries of the year,’ says Sky Sitney, Silverdocs’ artistic director. ‘What’s interesting to me about this film is taking this iconic book that is beloved by so many [written by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner] and seeing how it’s interpreted through the lens of five very distinct filmmakers with very distinct aesthetic approaches.’

The conference will see the Good Pitch @ Silverdocs return for a second year. The Good Pitch gives producers of eight issue-oriented film projects the opportunity to present to a group of experts from charities, foundations, advertising agencies, and public and commercial media interests. The session will be moderated by Jess Search, chief executive of Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation, which is a partner of the event, along with the Sundance Documentary Fund.

Sitney says another conference highlight will be the ‘In Conversation’ session with the Honorable Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. ‘With all the talk about Net Neutrality, this is something of great interest for documentary filmmakers as they’re expanding onto the Web,’ says Sitney.

The festival also debuts a new strand called ‘Peacebuilding on Screen,’ a partnership with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). The program boasts a selection of feature films and one short dealing with peace and conflict resolution globally. ‘One of the things that’s fabulous about Silverdocs and our proximity to Washington, D.C. is our ability to [show] films with great social significance that have a real urgency politically,’ offers Sitney. ‘After the screening, [we can] bring together a panel of extraordinary thinkers and leaders on the subject that can talk about how to take the idea of the film and turn it into action.

‘The strand and our partnership brings the power of documentary storytelling [to] the USIP’s on the ground mission of enacting global resolution and peace building strategies.’

The festival’s centerpiece screening is Davis Guggenheim’s Waiting for Superman, which will feature a post-screening discussion about the state of education in the U.S. with the cast of the film in attendance. Also making the fest this year will be Oliver Stone, accompanying his new documentary South of the Border.

For more information, visit the Silverdocs site.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.