The American Film Institute‘s flagship AFI Silver Theatre in downtown Silver Spring will once again host their long-running documentary film festival, SILVERDOCS, this year from June 15th to 22nd.
The eight day exhibition will showcase more than 100 documentary features and shorts from around the globe. In addition to the films competing for 2009’s top documentarian honors, the festival will feature appearances from some of this year’s subjects, like Muhammad Ali, LeBron James and Marion Barry, and discussions with some of the top names in the field, including Albert Maysles, director of such classics as Grey Gardens and Gimme Shelter, and Tom Bernard, the co-president and co-founder of Sony Pictures Classics, among many, many others.

With subjects running the gamut from “sports, politics, pop culture, globalization and music,” SILVERDOCS literally does offer something for everyone and is expected to draw upwards of 25,000 people to the Washington, DC area this year. However, fishing out the best of what SILVERDOCS has to offer can seem like an insurmountable task for newcomers, so CultureMob has selected a few choice highlights for from this year’s line-up.

A complete schedule of the festival’s in-competition screening slate follows below and we’ve highlighted a few of the picks that we’re looking forward to the most (cough***Troll 2***cough).

For more info on SILVERDOCs, visit the festival’s homepage at:

See you there.


Monday, June 15, 2009
• OPENING NIGHT: A remarkable coming of age story about friendship and loyalty in the face of great adversity, Kristopher Belman’s MORE THAN A GAME follows the incredible rise (and occasional fall) of five talented young basketball players from Akron, Ohio. Led by future NBA superstar LeBron James and coached by a charismatic yet initially inexperienced player’s father, Dru Joyce III, the “Fab Five’s” improbable seven-year journey lead them from a decrepit inner-city gym to the doorstep of a national high school championship. Director Kristopher Belman and film subjects in attendance. Schedule permitting, LeBron James and other special guests will attend.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
• Muhammad Ali, one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century will be making an exclusive appearance at SILVERDOCS to present FACING ALI, directed by Pete McCormack and produced by Derik Murray. The film includes interviews from around the world with the men who stepped into the ring with the three-time heavyweight champion, plus rare archival film footage and classic photos, combined with original intimate interviews with Ali’s colorful combatants, sharing their own personal experiences ‘facing Ali.’

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
• CENTERPIECE SCREENING: SILVERDOCS presents the World Premiere of CONVENTION, the highly anticipated ensemble documentary. AJ Schnack assembled an all-star crew of documentary filmmakers to tell the story of the collective efforts to mount one of the biggest events of the past decade: the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Joined by Laura Poitras (MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY), Paul Taylor (WE ARE TOGETHER), Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar (A LION IN THE HOUSE), and Daniel Junge (THEY KILLED SISTER DOROTHY), the film captures Denver through the eyes of its organizers, reporters, police and protesters leading up to the historic nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.
• RIP: A REMIX MANIFESTO pivots off the example of mash-up artist Girl Talk, and a wide array of open source warriors, web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores the nature of creativity, commerce and copyright in the 21st century. The filmmaker invited audiences to mash the contents during production and following its premiere. SILVERDOCS presents the latest version for the first time. Post screening performance by audio-visual remix kings Eclectic Method.

Thursday, June 18, 2009
• The Charles Guggenheim Symposium honors the legacy of the late four-time Academy Award winning filmmaker, Charles Guggenheim. This year the Symposium celebrates Albert Maysles, for his body of documentary work including: SALESMAN; GREY GARDENS and GIMME SHELTER. Special guests include Barbara Kopple, artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Discussion moderated by Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum.
• Beard and Moustache Contest following SPLITTING HAIRS, which follows Americans Bruce Roe and Phil Olsen as they prep for the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Germany, where “bearded stallions” compete for top chops at the 30-year-old event. The real rivalry is between the two as they vie for the presidency of the World Beard and Moustache Association.

Friday, June 19, 2009
• Before Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s 1974 boxing match in Zaire, the biggest names in R&B assembled for a three-day music festival. Jeffrey Levy-Hinte takes this never-seen footage in SOUL POWER and shows us the talents of James Brown, Bill Withers, B.B. King, the Spinners and top African acts such as Miriam Makeba and Orchestre Africa International. Post screening discussion and performance featuring filmmaker Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and legendary funk/jazz trombonist Fred Wesley.
• Free Outdoor screening of Al Reinert’s FOR ALL MANKIND in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the first walk on the moon. Breathtaking both in the scope of its vision and the exhilaration of the human emotions it captures, the film is the story of the 24 men who travelled to the moon, told in their words, in their voices, using the images of their experiences.
• Called the Citizen Kane of bad movies, TROLL 2 was voted by Internet users as the worst movie ever made. The film humiliated and ruined the careers of every actor in the film. Yet it’s a cult phenomenon that brings joy to thousands. Michael Paul Stephenson, the film’s former child star, chronicles the unlikely popularity of a film so bad that it’s brilliant in BEST WORST MOVIE. Filmmaker and subjects scheduled to attend. Followed by a screening of TROLL 2.

Saturday, June 20, 2009
• CLOSING NIGHT: THE NINE LIVES OF MARION BARRY, directed by Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer. Many people remember Marion Barry as the philandering drug-using mayor of the nation’s capital, who was famously caught in a 1990 FBI sting operation. Yet others know him as a folk hero, a civil rights champion and defender of the poor. Barry’s soaring achievements, catastrophic failures and phoenix-like rebirths have made him a symbol of mythic indestructibility. Who is Marion Barry, really? A hero? A scoundrel? Why is he such a polarizing force? And why do people still vote for him? Directors Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer are scheduled to attend along with Marion Barry. Post-screening discussion moderated by Emmy Award-winning NBC4 News anchor Jim Vance, featuring Civil Rights activist Lawrence Guyot, political analyst Jonetta Rose Barras, and NBC4 News reporter Tom Sherwood.
Sunday, June 21, 2009

• A wide-array of Festival favorites are scheduled to play on Sunday: SWEETHEARTS OF THE PRISON RODEO, THE WAY WE GET BY, as well as engaging sports films such as POP STAR ON ICE, ONLY WHEN I DANCE and a second screening of Opening Night’s MORE THAN A GAME—with filmmakers in attendance.

Sports The best (and rest) of AFI SILVERDOCS 2009 with Muhammad, LeBron and...