It's easier for a high school senior to go Ivy League than for a filmmaker to get his or her movie selected for AFI Docs, the documentary film festival formerly known as Silverdocs. A mere 53 films were hand-picked from 1,929 submissions, and the just-announced slate (unsurprisingly) looks promising, boasting Oscar winners, Sundance award recipients and Tribeca Film Festival standouts. The festival runs June 19-23, and tickets go on sale to the general public May 31.
While the movies are exciting, so is the festival's geographic expansion. Yes, you can still see all the documentaries at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, but the films will also screen at various locations around D.C.
We'll have more information about the movies as we get closer to the festival, but for now, here are a few films to get excited about:
• "Life According to Sam" was directed by Oscar-winning locals Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine ("Inocente), and follows a little boy born with Progeria syndrome, a rare disease that causes rapid aging.
• Lucy Walker, the documentarian behind the breathtaking Academy Award nominee "Waste Land" directed "Crash Reel." The film delves into the world of competitive snowboarding through the story of a rising star that suffered a brain injury.
• "The Act of Killing" has generated massive buzz on the festival circuit recounting troubling tales of genocide in Indonesia, told by the men who committed the murders. Director Joshua Oppenheimer enlisted the members of communist-targeting death squads to theatrically reenact their atrocities, and they were disturbingly delighted to oblige.
• Word on the street: You don't have to be a super-fan of the band the National (or have tickets to their June show at Merriweather) to enjoy the documentary "Mistaken for Strangers," which is about the band but not really about the band. Selected as the opening night film at Tribeca, the doc was directed by Tom Berninger, the blundering younger brother of one of the bandmates, who becomes the film's unwitting (or, potentially, purposeful) subject when he accompanies the National on tour.