Written by: FFT Webmaster | June 22nd, 2010
The focus returns to documentaries from the US and around the world as the AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival kicked off on Monday evening, June 21. The Festival and International Documentary Conference are the largest events of their kind in the United States, bringing together non-fiction producers, distributors, television executives, film festival programmers and a bevvy of other industry professionals who are passionate about documentaries. Add to that the motivated and highly intelligent audiences, and you have an event that makes an impact on political and social discourse.
The 8th edition opened with the multi-part FREAKONOMICS, based on Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s bestselling book, Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Exposes the Hidden Side of Everything.The film is directed by a “dream team” of esteemed documentary filmmakers, including Alex Gibney (TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE), Morgan Spurlock (SUPER SIZE ME), Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (JESUS CAMP), Eugene Jarecki (WHY WE FIGHT) and Seth Gordon (THE KING OF KONG). The film, which had its world premiere last month at the Tribeca Film Festival, opens theatrically in North America via specialty distributor Magnolia Pictures in the Fall.
As the United States and the world deal with economic, political and environmental challenges, the premise of the book is an exploration of human behavior that causes such chaos to recur and for solutions to often seem insurmountable. Applying statistics and physics theory, the authors reveal the hidden psychology and moral ambivalence of some of today’s most complex and insistent issues.
The film is broken out into individual segments that each of the aforementioned directors claim as their own. Alex Gibney looks behind the fragile façade of Sumo wrestling and exposes uncomfortable truths about this ancient and revered sport. Morgan Spurlock examines the consequences of a name, and whether being dubbed Sheniqua, Tripp, or Moon Unit has any affect on one’s future prospects. Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing explore whether money can be used to incentivize underachieving kids to improve their grades in school. Eugene Jarecki investigates why crime rates dramatically dropped in most American cities in the past two decades. And Seth Gordon weaves the pieces together with playful animation and commentary from the authors, looking at the mosaic of challenges and opportunities that we face on this ever-shrinking and interdependent planet.
Filmmakers Alex Gibney, Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing attended the Opening Night Gala at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland….a tony suburb of Washington DC. A post-screening discussion was moderated by Alvin Hall, BBC host and NPR commentator. An after-party sponsored by Discovery Communications, the Festival’s key sponsor and a Silver Spring power broker was a chance for lovers of non-fiction to celebrate. The Festival runs through Sunday, June 27. I will be there to cover all the premieres, the parties, the seminar sessions and the atmosphere on this blog site. You can also visit: www.silverdocs.com