Silverdocs Film Festival
Week-Long Film Festival
Director, AFI/Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival
Tuesday, June 15, 2004; 10:30 AM
This year marks the second annual Silverdocs, a week-long festival held at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Md., that screens more than 75 documentary films from a variety of countries.
This year's films include the Washington premiere of "Control Room," a behind-the-scenes look at the Al Jazeera network, "Let's Rock Again," a documentary about former Clash frontman Joe Strummer and "Right Wing Hollywood," an examination of Republicans in Hollywood.
Patricia Finneran, director of Silverdocs 2004 was online Tuesday, June 15 at 10:30 a.m. ET, to discuss this year's event and the state of documentary filmmaking.
Prior to joining AFI, Finneran was artistic director of the IFP Market, a non-profit organization that provides resources for independent filmmakers throughout the country. She has also produced and written television shows for the International Monetary Fund, covered the independent film scene for iCast.com and previously served as president of Women in Film and Video in Washington, D.C.
A transcript follows.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
Patricia Finneran: On behalf of all of us at SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival. Thanks for joining us for this on-line chat. We hope you come up to the AFI Silver Theatre in downtown Silver Spring this week to see one of the more than 75 documentaries playing over the next 6 days.
Please check our line-up at SILVERDOCS
Some have said we are in the "golden age" of documentary filmmaking. and it seems like docs are more popular than ever. Do you think this is the case? Is there any relation to the pervasiveness of reality television and the growth in documentary popularity?
Patricia Finneran: Documentaries are indeed enjoying unprecedented success at the box office and increased attention in general. I think that documentaries - particularly the kinds of films we show at SILVERDOCS are in fact counter to reality tv.
They are created by individual artists with a personal vision -- their passionate approach to storytelling and the authentic stories they reveal are what audiences respond to.
Hi -- Do you think any of your films are headed for an Oscar nomination? Thanks and good luck!
Patricia Finneran: SILVERDOCS 2003 Sterling Award winner for best feature went to MY ARCHITECT which went on to be nominated for the Academy Award.
Several of this year's films are of that caliber. I wouldn't presume to pick which one will rise to the top ... take a special look at the 11 films competing for this year's Sterling Award.
I am trying to produce a independent documentary about
Philadelpia's rich musical community.
How would I go about approval of a non-profit, tax
exempt (501(c)3) catagory?
For more info about me check my web site:
Patricia Finneran: There are lots of organizations out there to help facilitate first time filmmakers. I encourage you to check out AIVF, IDA, and IFP on-line.
Your choice of subject is one that will also be featured at SILVERDOCS.
MUSIC FROM THE INSIDE OUT will screen Friday, June 18th at 7:00 p.m. It is a behind-the-scenes look at the Philadelphia Orchestra from local filmmaker Daniel Anker.
Everywhere I turn, I hear more and more about documentaries. What's going on?
Patricia Finneran: The overwhelming success and resulting publicity deluge around FAHRENHEIT 9/11, the first doc to win the Cannes Palme D'Or, has given documentaries re real boost in the public eye. Numerous other examples in the past year, SPELLBOUND, FOG OF WAR, and now SUPERSIZE ME, are grabbing audience attention. Documentaries allow us to take a longer view of a subject, to go beyond the sound-bites to really explore a story.
For example, check out THE CONTROL ROOM which goes behind the scenes at AL JAZEERA during the early weeks of the war in Iraq.
I'm very excited about the Joe Strummer event on Friday evening. Can you give us more details? Will food and drink be sold, or can people bring their own? Should we bring lawn chairs to sit on? And how long will Ted Leo play after the movie?
Patricia Finneran: Friday night will be a terrific, FREE celebration of film and music and the newly revitalized Downtown Silver Spring.
We start at 7:30 and the evening unfolds as follows
> FRENCH TOAST
at 9:00, Dick Rude's brand new documentary feature about Joe Strummer, the former Clash front man and his come-back tour withe the Mescaleros.
Following the screening, TED LEO AND THE PHARMACISTS will take the stage.
They will play a full set, and we hope, an encore.
The local restaurants will be open and serving food and drink. You can also bring a picnic dinner. You should bring a blanket or small lawn chair.
But note, since it is a public event no alcohol is permitted.
Embassy Row, Washington, D.C.:
I already have tickets for three films and a panel at this year's festival and am really looking forward to them. I also enjoyed last year's festival ... an event dedicated to documentary film is a really rewarding experience.
My one complaint is that several films are only being shown during the day on weekdays, which makes it difficult for those of us who have jobs to see them. Will you be expanding the festival in the future so that selections can be shown more often?
Patricia Finneran: Thanks for your support!
Good question - we hope to expand every year.
The films in our Feature Competition screen twice.
Also - our lunchtime SHORT FILM screenings are free to the public every day Wednesday through Friday.
Also note, we will reprise the Sterling and Audience Award winners on Sunday afternoon.
I realize that Silverdocs isn't Cannes, but will any celebrities be in town for the festival?
Patricia Finneran: Yes -- Caroline Rhea will be here tonight! As will the actor Michael Nouri, actress Jenny Dundas. Festivals are full of surprises - we have some additional celebs scheduled to appear ...
On Friday evening the screening of DIRTY WORK will be introduced by its executive producer Ed Norton!
Silver Spring, Md.:
The festival sounds terrific. How can I get tickets? Also, what films are you most excited about?
Patricia Finneran: You may purchase on-line at SILVERDOCS, or come up to the AFI SILVER THEATRE and purchase tickets at the Box Office, which will open at 12 noon each day during the Festival (we're opening at 4 p.m. today).
Be sure to check out
our Special Screenings such as CONTROL ROOM on Wednesday evening;
our political panel discussion ON THE ROAD, moderated by Mark Halperin with top documentarians including George Butler who will show preview clips of his upcoming biopic on John Kerry.
Our closing night celebration is the 2nd Annual Charles Guggenheim Symposium honoring Academy Award winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple with special guest Al Maysles and Elvis Mitchell.
Also check out BIG ENOUGH, ROLLING, GUERILLA: THE TAKING OF PATTY HEARST, METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER, CRAZY LEGS CONTI: ZEN AND THE ART OF COMPETITIVE EATING, BEAUTY ACADEMY OF KABUL.
One Sunday, we have a benefit event for Beauty Without Borders, which is featured in BEAUTY ACADEMY OF KABUL.
Patricia Finneran: Thanks for joining us. All of us at SILVERDOCS look forward to seeing you at the SILVER THEATRE.
© 2004 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive