‘SILVERDOCS’ Now Open Through June 24th by Bari Biern

Yesterday the AFI-Discovery Channel SILVERDOCS Documentary Festival opened and will run through June 24th. SILVERDOCS is celebrating its tenth anniversary at the historic AFI Silver Theatre and surrounding venues in downtown Silver Spring, MD.

This weeklong festival – the largest of its kind in the US – will present 114 films from 44 countries, selected from more than 2000 submissions. This year’s slate of films encompasses a diverse range of subjects, from sports to theatre, from music to politics, from food to fashion. The program includes seven world premieres as well as seven US premieres, plus seven retrospective films and an outdoor screening.

The energy of the festival is fantastic. For one week every year, downtown Silver Spring is the film capital of the world. The streets, restaurants and theatres are filled with filmmakers, educators, distributors and the media. Many of the films’ subjects, producers and directors participate in post-screening discussions. Every weekday, starting at noon, the festival offers free programs of short films.

To whet your appetite, here’s a preview of two of the films at this year’s SILVERDOCS festival:

Beauty is Embarrassing  (US) 89 minutes
Director Neil Berkeley’s film introduces us to Wayne White, an eccentric, irreverent artist/musician/sculptor/animator/puppeteer, whose work you may already know—he designed Pee Wee’s Playhouse as well as some of its puppet denizens. White’s unlikely journey takes him from his small town Tennessee roots through the Big Apple and out to Hollywood. He is refreshing, unpretentious and outrageous, constantly reinventing the world around him through every medium he can lay his hands on. Director Berkeley provides a colorful palette for his equally colorful subject, and includes interviews with Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman) and Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons. This film is sure to be an audience favorite, so get your tickets early.

Saturday, June 23, 5:30pm
Sunday, June 24, 8:15pm

If Himmler Played Guitar (UK) 11 minutes

Jon Valinski is the subject of Andy Taylor Smith’s 11-minute film. He bears an astonishing resemblance to Heinrich Himmler, the murderous commander of Hitler’s SS during World War II.  Valinski expresses revulsion for Himmler’s ideology, but his actions tell a different story. I watched the entire film with my face frozen in the slack-jawed expression of the audience of “Springtime for Hitler” in Mel Brooks’ The Producers.

If you ever doubted that truth is stranger than fiction, check out this little film.

Shorts Program 3: View Askew
Wednesday, June 20  12:00pm
Thursday, June 21  4:45pm

Purchase passes and tickets.


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