On Monday night, Magnolia Pictures’ Freakonomics, based on the bestselling book by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubnero, opened the AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival. Celebrating its eighth year, Silverdocs 2010 features seven (very full) days of programming showcasing over 80 films plus special screenings, music performances and dozens of panel discussions featuring hundreds of filmmakers, topics and media professionals.
Silverdocs Opening Night Panel
Back to opening night, Freakonomics — directed by a “dream team” of documentary filmmakers, including Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side), Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp), Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight) and Seth Gordon (King of Kong) — brings the book’s famously applied statistics and incentives analyzing human behaviors to the screen. For example, Gibney examines Sumo wrestling and the uncomfortable truths about this ancient and revered sport, while Spurlock looks at the consequences of a name (think “Sheniqua” or “Tripp”) on a person’s future prospects. Discovery Channel President & GM and Science Channel President Clark Bunting provided an introduction and highlighted Discovery’s proud and longstanding sponsorship of Silverdocs. Afterward, filmmakers Gibney, Grady and Ewing participated in a post-screening discussion at the sold-out AFI Silver.
Oliver Stone on the Red Carpet at Silverdocs
Running in conjunction with Silverdocs, a companion professional conference celebrates the art of business and documentary storytelling. This year’s theme explored the challenges and opportunities of “360 Degree Storytelling.” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Michael Winship, President of the Writers Guild of America (East), were featured speakers earlier this week.
While there are too many films to catch them all, Waiting for ‘Superman‘ by Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) and The Tillman Story are two highlights this year. The first examines the effects of the 2001 No Child Left Behind legislation, with filmmaker Guggenheim reminding us that statistics have names: Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy & Emily (in this case). Meanwhile, tomorrow night’s Festival closer, The Tillman Story, tells the heartbreaking story of NFL star defensive back Pat Tillman, who joined the Army in May 2002 and died in Afghanistan.
Planet Green President & GM Laura Michalchyshyn, ID President & GM Henry Schleiff and Silverdocs' Sky Sitney
Additionally, as a part of Discovery’s participation in the festival, Planet Green and Investigation Discovery welcomed filmmakers to One Discovery Place on Thursday night to celebrate Silverdocs and the networks’ documentary strands — Reel Impact and ID Films.
With so many great films and events this week, there are simply too many to write about them all. If you’re in the Washington, DC area, there’s still time to catch some great films. If not, visit silverdocs.com to follow the festival through video reports, the blog and more!