HARD TIMES ADOUGLASS HIGH (2007): Alan Raymond and Susan Raymond’s Docu–Inside Look at Problems of Baltimore’s Frederick Douglass High School


SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival announced the competition films for the 2008 Festival, taking place June 16-23, 2008 in the Washington, DC area.

Each year the SILVERDOCS Competition offers a diverse and colorful selection of films. New this year, SILVERDOCS adds a World Competition in recognition of the richness of documentary storytelling globally and the value of diverse perspectives on the human experience. SILVERDOCS 2008 will present 108 films representing 63 countries selected from 1,861 submissions with six World, eight North American, six US, seven East Coast Premieres and two retrospective programs.

Documentary film often represents the best, sometimes the only, way for audiences to experience authentic stories capturing contemporary global culture. SILVERDOCSs new World Feature section reflects our commitment to highlighting global perspectives, said Festival Director Patricia Finneran.

The 2008 program represents the very best the documentary form has to offer, gives voice to the most compelling issues of the day and reflects the diversity of the filmmakers approach to storytelling, said Director of Programming Sky Sitney. Some are told with political urgency, others through a personal lens; some with humor, others with music, but all offer a major contribution to the genre and to our shared human experience.

The Festival will again honor the best film in the Music Documentary section. Music documentaries provide a front row seat to the personalities and power of the creative process and are always strongly represented at the Festival. Films screen in six sections: US Feature Competition, World Feature Competition, Music Documentary, Short Film Competition, the to-be-announced Silver Spectrum and a special thematic side-bar for 2008.

SILVERDOCS confers three additional awards presented annually at the Festival.

The Cinematic Vision Award will be given to a feature film that exhibits excellence and innovation in the craft of visual storytelling ($2,500).

The WITNESS Award in honor of Joey Lozano will be awarded to a theatrical documentary that addresses human rights and social justice issues ($5,000).

The SILVERDOCS/American Film Market Award will be presented to a film of exceptional promise in the media marketplace and will include special access to the American Film Market and accommodations ($5,000 value).

SILVERDOCS and ACE/Animal Content in
Entertainment will again present a development grant, initiated in 2006, which has increased to $25,000 for 2008. The awards join those for films in competition. The new awards bring the combined cash and in-kind prizes at SILVERDOCS to $65,000.

Award winners will be announced at the SILVERDOCS Award presentation on Saturday June 21, 2008. All films are also eligible for Audience awards for Best Feature and Short, which will be announced on Sunday June 22, 2008.


USA (World Premiere)

112 minutes

Director: Alan and Susan Raymond

A year inside Baltimore’s Frederick Douglass High School shows the parts of a broken public education system: dedicated administrators, harried but present teachers, and students trying to get by.

But the shaky foundation of the social system outside the schools walls marked by poverty, broken homes and lack of opportunity make for a set-up for failure.

HERB & DOROTHY / USA, 2008, 85 minutes (Director: Megumi Sasaki)

He’s a postal clerk. Shes a librarian. Despite their modest means, they are the most important contemporary art collectors you’ve never heard of. Meet Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, whose shared passion and discipline defied stereotypes and redefined what it means to be a patron of the arts. World Premiere.

IN THE FAMILY / USA, 2008, 83 minutes (Director: Joanna Rudnick)

Would you surrender your ability to give life if you knew it might save your own A genetic test has told 27-year-old Joanna Rudnick that she will most likely develop breast and ovarian cancer. Now she must decide if she will take the pre-emptive step of having her breasts and ovaries removed. US Premiere.

KASSIM THE DREAM / USA, 2008, 87 minutes (Director: Kief Davidson)

Kassim Ouma was born in Uganda, kidnapped by the rebel army and trained to be a child soldier at age 6. After a decade of warfare, he defected and began a new life in the U.S., quickly becoming a world champion boxer. Kief Davidson captures Oumas passions, tragedies, victories, and emotional and geographic journeys.

PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL / USA, 2008, 72 minutes (Director: Gini Reticker) An inspiring chronicle of the thousands of Liberian women who peacefully ended the war in their country that killed over 250,000 people. Non-violent protests, sit-ins, and organizational acumen resulted in disarmament and the 2005 election of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

TROUBLE THE WATER / USA, 2008, 95 minutes (Director: Tia Lessin and Carl Deal)Kimberly Roberts bought a camcorder off the street for $20 just a week before Hurricane Katrina hit her hometown of New Orleans. Veteran filmmakers Tia Lessin and Carl Deal weave together Roberts footage with their own into an evocative dialogue that reveals a powerful, heart-wrenching, infuriating and ultimately inspiring survival story.

US Feature Jury: Sandi Dubowski, Filmmaker and writer (TREMBLING BEFORE G-D); Ramona Diaz, Filmmaker (IMELDA, SPIRITS RISING); Mila Aungh Thwin, Filmmaker and Producer (CHAIRMAN GEORGE)


COMEBACK / Germany, 2007, 79 minutes (Director: Maximilian Plettau)German boxer Jrgen Hartenstein is a 35-year-old former middleweight champion hoping to re-enter the sport in this quiet and lovingly crafted film. Max Plettaus camera unobtrusively follows Hartenstein as he struggles to revive his career. Hartensteins gentle demeanor and unassuming lifestyle elevate his ambition to a noble quest that we are privileged to witness. North American Premiere.

CORRIDOR #8 / Bulgaria, 2008, 74 minutes (Director: Boris Despodov)The saying you cant get there from here never rang more true than in this fabulously droll road trip across Bulgaria, Albania and Macedonia on Corridor #8the Balkan antithesis of Route 66. This massive infrastructure project, commissioned by the EU, was designed to connect the Black and Adriatic seas and lift the economic hopes of the working-class residents along its route. But a decade and millions of euros later, little progress has been made.

THE ENGLISH SURGEON / United Kingdom/Ukraine, 2007, 94 minutes (Director: Geoffrey Smith)British neurosurgeon Henry Marsh resides in an idyllic English village, but he spends several weeks a year in Ukraine performing surgeries with the crudest of tools in a country where neurosurgery barely exists. His skills have saved innumerable lives, yet Dr. Marsh refuses to slow down until hes saved every possible life. East Coast Premiere.

FOUR WIVES ONE MAN / Iran, 2007, 76 minutes (Director: Nahid Persson)A poignant, occasionally hilarious, often harrowing glimpse into an institution oft undertaken but rarely understoodmarriage. As the title suggests, this is no conventional marriage, with four wives, dozens of children, and one domineering mother-in-law, all competing for the attention of one man. North American Premiere.

HEAD WIND / Iran, 2008, 65 minutes (Director: Mohammad Rasoulof)If satellite dishes are illegal in Iran, then why are so many Iranians watching Hollywood blockbusters This fascinating film reveals a fast-growing subculture determined to gain access to Western media by any means necessary. Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Rasoulof illuminates the growing disparity between what Iranians want and what their Islamic leaders will allow.

THE INFINITE BORDER / Mexico, 2007, 90 minutes (Director: Juan Manuel Seplveda)Some migrants exude a determination that points less to the promise of a bright future and more to an escape from a troubled past. In this visually stunning yet unromantic account of their journey, migrants face starvation and dismemberment on the road from Central America to Mexico and finally to the United States. US Premiere.

MECHANICAL LOVE / Denmark, 2007, 79 minutes (Director: Phie Ambo)How far we are prepared to go when human intimacy becomes a rare commodity Robots promise to make our lives easier, but for some people they can be a stand-in for human affection. This fascinating film explores the intimate and complex relationships between people and therapeutic robots.
US Premiere.

MILOSEVIC ON TRIAL / Denmark, 2007, 69 minutes (Director: Michael Christofferson)When former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic was on trial for crimes against humanity, he acted as his own counsel. Perhaps his most masterful move in the trial was dieing of a heart attack before its conclusion. Michael Christoffersen captures the trial and its defendant, from its historic beginnings to its bizarre end.

MY LIFE INSIDE / Mexico, 2007, 120 minutes (Director: Lucia Gaja)The tragic story of Rosa, a Mexican citizen living illegally in Texas, addresses the contentious issue of illegal immigration and the pitfalls of the judicial system. Accused of murdering a child under her care, Rosa must battle a system that is as foreign to her as she is to it.

THE RED RACE / China/Germany, 2008, 70 minutes (Director: Chao Gan)Against the backdrop of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and escalating international condemnation over Chinese policies from Tibet to Darfur, THE RED RACE presents a microscopic insight into the Chinese passion for gymnastics. In training centers, theres no time for childish games as these aspiring Olympians carry their parents and their countrys dreams on their tiny shoulders.
World Premiere.

World Feature Jury: Steve James, Filmmaker (HOOP DREAMS, STEVIE); Almadena Carrecedo, Filmmaker (MADE IN LA, WELCOME, A DOCU-JOURNEY OF IMPRESSIONS); Igor Blazevic, Director, One World, International Human Rights Documentary Festival and co-director of ten documentaries for Czech Television.


HI MY NAME IS RYAN / USA, 2008, 78 minutes (Director: Paul Eagleston and Stephen Rose)Cherubic 19-year-old alt-culture renaissance man Ryan Avery is the best thing that happened to the downtown Phoenix art scene since native son Alice Cooper. Though Avery seems destined for an artists life, hes grappling with a different calling. A devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he has chosen to forgo his madcap antics for a religious mission. Yet, with what some might call a god-given gift, Avery must learn to reconcile his two competing callings. North American Premiere.

LA PALOMA / Germany/France, 2008, 88 minutes (Director: Sigrid Faltin)Long before corporate distribution and file-sharing fused music with globalization, songs traversed the globe. LA PALOMA follows Sebastin de Iradiers 1861 song, La Paloma, from the Basque country to Latin America, Hawaii, back to Europe, and finally to Africa. In each country, the tune remained while the meaning changed dramatically.

LIFE. SUPPORT. MUSIC. / USA, 2008, 79 minutes (Director: Eric Daniel Metzgar)At 34, Jason Kriglin has found his callingmaking musicand the love of his lifehis wife. Suddenly, a massive stroke leaves him in a vegetative state. This is a story of his tenacity, the determined power of familial love, and how music inspires and gives voice to that which words cannot.

SONG SUNG BLUE / USA, 2008, 87 minutes (Director: Greg Kohs)Decked out in sequined outfits, Mike & Claire Sardina, AKA Lightning & Thunder, play to hooting crowds at Milwaukee bars and clubs. But when a freak accident leaves Claire immobile, their Vegas dreams are replaced by a reality of rehabilitation, unpaid bills, drug addiction and lost hopes. Will Lightning only strike once

THROW DOWN YOUR HEART / USA, 2008, 97 minutes (Director: Sascha Paladino)American banjo virtuoso Bla Fleck travels to Africa to explore the little-known roots of the instrument and record an album. Flecks riveting journey takes him through Uganda, Tanzania, The Gambia, and Mali, where he transcends the barriers of language and culture through a shared passion for music.

WILD COMBINATION / USA, 2008, 71 minutes (Director: Matt Wolf)This visually absorbing film looks at the seminal avant-garde composer, singer-songwriter, cellist and disco producer Arthur Russell. Before his AIDS-related death, Russell created music that spanned pop and the transcendent possibilities of abstract arta legacy that richly deserves this hip and hypnotic visual tone poem.
Music Documentary Jury: To Be Announced.


The Festival also presents a Sterling Award for Best Short, in recognition of this increasingly acclaimed art form. The Short Film program will be released in the subsequent program announcement. Shorts programmed in SILVERDOCS have gone on to be nominated for an Academy Award each year of the Festival. THE BLOOD OF YINGZHOU DISTRICT, directed by Ruby Yang, which had its world premiere at SILVERDOCS 2006, received the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short and 2007s FREEHELD won the Oscar.

Short Film Jury: Ryan Harrington, Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund; Sarah Price, Filmmaker (SUMMERCAMP, THE YES MEN); A.J. Schnack, Filmmaker and Writer (KURT COBAIN ABOUT A SON)


Guggenheim. The Festivals signature program, the Charles Guggenheim Symposium, honors the legacy of the late four-time Osca winning filmmaker, Charles Guggenheim, by recognizing a filmmaker who shares the same artistic excellence and profound respect for humanity and democratic values.

Spike Lee

In 2008, the Symposium will honor Spike Lee, an Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated director, producer, writer and actor with more than 35 films to his credit.

His documentary work includes: WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN FOUR ACTS (2006); 4 LITTLE GIRLS (1997); and WE WUZ ROBBED (2000).

The SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival honors excellence in filmmaking, supports the diverse voices and free expression of independent storytellers and celebrates the power of documentary to improve our understanding of the world. Now in its sixth year, the festival runs June 16-23 at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in the Washington, DC area, and has expanded by two days to meet growing demand. The 2007 Festival featured 100 films from 43 countries presented to over 21,000 attendees, including the influential audiences of the nations capital and media professionals from around the world. The concurrent five-day SILVERDOCS International Documentary Conference presents thought-provoking presentations and engages a diverse group of over 1,000 filmmakers and industry leaders concerned with the future of non-fiction storytelling, production and distribution. For more information, go to www.SILVERDOCS.com.

Discovery Communications

Discovery Communications is the worlds number-one nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.5 billion cumulative subscribers in over 170 countries. Discovery empowers people to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity through 100-plus worldwide networks, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel, Investigation Discovery and HD Theater, as well as leading consumer and educational products and services, and a diversified portfolio of digital media services including HowStuffWorks.com. Discovery Communications is owned by Discovery Holding Company (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB), Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S. Hendricks, Discovery’s founder and chairman. For more information, please visit www.discoverycommunications.com.