Going to the movies during a torrid Washington summer most often involves being outside, watching beloved vintage favorites (“Grease” singalong, anyone?) on a carpet of scratchy grass with a canopy of stars overhead.
Or it involves yet another trudge to the multiplex to see yet another sequel, prequel, reboot or iteration of a comic-book spectacle. (Watch out: We’ll have barely recovered from “The Avengers” when “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Dark Knight Rises” sneak up on us.)
But over the past decade, Washington’s cinematic summer has also come to mean Silverdocs, the AFI-Discovery Channel documentary showcase held at AFI’s Silver Theatre that provides nonfiction film fans in the area with a full year’s worth of nutritious, entertaining fare — and gives credence to Washington’s evolving role as a documentary film hub.
This year’s highlights include opening night film “Don’t Stop Believin’,” about the unlikely rise of a Filipino Journey fan who became the band’s lead singer by way of YouTube; Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s “Detropia,” a poetic reported essay about the living ruins of Detroit; “Bad Brains: A Band in DC,” about the eponymous Washington group; and “The Revisionaries,” about a creationist running for a position on the Texas Board of Education. Silverdocs will close June 24 with a screening of “Big Easy Express,” about a musical tour from California to New Orleans, and featuring such acts as Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show.
Oh, and because it’s Washington in the summer, Silverdocs will feature the obligatory outdoor screening: Joe Berlinger’s “Under African Skies,” about Paul Simon and the making of his controversial 1986 album “Graceland.” Ditch the ’plex, bring your blanket and enjoy.