Friday, June 25, 2010

Silverdocs - Thursday recap

Thursday will now be called 'roller coaster day', for that was the film experience of Silver Docs yesterday. I'm talking specifically about the films. And the great thing about roller coasters is how they leave you wanting more:

The Kids Grow Up - a surprisingly touching documentary that will surely have more impact and meaning on the parents of recent graduates. It isn't a perfectly made film, but neither was Father of the Bride - and I loved Father of the Bride.

Barbershop Punk - what is neither a barber, nor a punk? Better question, what is neither entertaining nor insightful? It's an overly harsh criticism of the film, but this documentary was the low point of the festival so far.

Budrus - The best film of the festival (so far) is not about Boutros Boutros-Ghalli (admit it, you thought it was for a second). No, this touching and empowering documentary follows one Palestinian village as it uses nonviolence to stop the Israeli wall from destroying their land.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Silverdocs - Wednesday recap

Wednesday didn't quite live up to the pleasant surprises of Tuesday, but it was certainly a day full of interesting and provocative films. It also featured a misstep that forced me to miss Davis Guggenheim's newest film Waiting for Superman. Yes, miscommunication resulted in missing one of the major films of the festival, but not to worry the error lead me to a surprising little world premier! That's what's great about festivals, even when someone screws up, you still win!

But enough rambling about schedules, a brief highlight of the Wednesday films:

Goodbye, How Are you? - a totally unique and clever attempt at highlighting a satirical aphorism movement in Serbia. It's not your usual documentary and it'll definitely divide audiences into those that love it and those that don't.

South of the Border - Oliver Stone brings his pro-Hugo Chavez rhetoric to the forefront in this film praising the Venezuelan President and other like minded (i.e. U.S. bashing) leaders. It's a film that tries to erase the negative caricatures of these leaders with overly positive ones, but there are plenty who will appreciate Stone's work.

My So Called Enemy - A world premier that still needs some polishing (the director claims editing ended at 2 am the day of the event), but certainly worth seeing. It appeals to idealists who want peace throughout the world and to realists who believe everyday life makes idealism a complicated and unattainable goal.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Silverdocs - Tuesday recap

The opening night festivities behind me, it was time to get into the meat of the Silverdocs festival and let me tell you, it was a surprise. Of all the days, the first day was (in my opinion) considered the weakest (or most likely to produce a bad film or two), but I must say each and every film turned out to be a real gem. So here's a quick recap:

La Isla (Archives of Tragedy) - The film has a few missteps and odd choices, but if you come into it with some background on the history of Guatemala, you'll find a very good documentary.

War Don Don - Does 'justice' truly help a society recently marred in civil war? That is the question brilliantly dissected in this case study that asks audiences to reexamine the legitimacy and helpfulness of the UN special courts.

Holy Wars - A bold and enlightened film that desperately tries not to judge its fundamentalist characters. Though it's possible to interpret the filmmakers taking a side in the debate, it's hard to deny this is based more on the characters then the direction - which includes narration to mitigate those feelings.

Odd factoid of the day - two of the three films ended with a rap song about the subject matter. I don't know why, but I found that odd.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Silverdocs kicks off in Washington D.C.

The week long documentary smorgasbord known as Silverdocs kicked off with a bang last night with the world premier of Freakonomics and DocFilm Online is here to bring you daily coverage of the event, plus reviews of all the films we are able to see.

If you are in the D.C. area you should definitely check out the event (hosted at the AFI theater in Silver Spring, Maryland). If you aren't within reasonable driving vicinity (and I'll leave that judgement call to you), then check out our daily recaps!