For a documentary festival organizer such as myself, Sundance is the Holy Grail. And the twentyten edition of the Festival did not disappoint. Here are a few standouts.
JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK
Ricki Stern and Annie Sundburg offer an entertaining and moving work of revisionist history, examining the caricature of Joan Rivers based on her excessive plastic surgery and red carpet shenanigans. They detail not only her groundbreaking role and meteoric rise in a male-dominated comedy world (thus paving the way for many future female comics), but her humility and humanity as well. Can we tawk?
12th and DELAWARE
Filmmaking dynamic duo Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp) elegantly encapsulate the complex and controversial abortion debate by focusing their camera on one corner in Fort Pierce, Fla., where an abortion clinic sits on one side of the street, and a pro-life outfit – often mistaken for the clinic it seeks to shut down – sits on the other.
The second installment of Laura Poitras’ post-9/11 trilogy (beginning with Academy nominated My Country, My Country) offers a compelling portrait of two brothers-in-law, Abu Jandal and Salim Hamdam, whose associations with al-Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden in particular (one served as his bodyguard, the other as his driver), propell them on divergent courses.
WAITING FOR SUPERMAN
Washington, D.C. native son Davis Guggenheim returns to the advocacy role that won him an Academy Award in 2006 for An Inconvenient Truth. This time he turns his lens on the state of public education in the U.S. Following a number of promising students through the system, he reveals the complexities and failures of public education, and offers a much needed battle cry for change.
Want to see great documentary film in the Washington D.C. Metro area? Come to AFI Discovery Channel SILVERDOCS Documentary Film Festival from June 22 to 27, 2010! Tickets are on sale now: http://silverdocs.com