The Washington Post

Ann Hornaday’s picks for Silverdocs

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.

Ann Hornaday is The Post's movie critic.
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