Silverdocs 2012: Silver and Old Ten years in, the annual documentary festival has films for every brow

Cue the fist-pumps and pyrotechnics: For its 10th anniversary, Silverdocs is unstrapping its inner arena rocker. The film festival, which began in 2003 in Silver Spring’s AFI Silver Theatre and now occupies several venues in the suburb’s downtown, opens on June 18 with Don’t Stop Believin’, an earnest and inspirational film about the Filipino tribute singer who became the frontman of Journey. Five nights later Silverdocs will screen its closing-night film, Big Easy Express, in which three bands with varying degrees of debt to bluegrass—Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes—tour by train from Oakland to New Orleans.

If these seem like populist choices from a festival that’s reached middle age, consider the big tent Silverdocs continues to pitch each year, one with room for several brows.

This year’s slate stresses lives of creativity. Two titans of contemporary art are profiled in Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present and Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. There are eccentrics (Pee-Wee’s Playhouse co-creator Wayne White) and faded heroes (Cream drummer Ginger Baker and D.C. hardcore lions Bad Brains) and thwarted dreamers (opera director Robert LePage and James Brown impersonator Charles Bradley).

Silverdocs’ 114 films contain a handful of world premieres, as well as features from some of documentary film’s biggest names. In The House I Live In, Why We Fight director Eugene Jarecki overviews the American war on drugs. Detropia, by Jesus Camp directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, centers on a rebuilding Detroit.

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But Silverdocs’ core audience—the crowd that’s serious about serious documentaries—may not want to rule out Journey. At the very least the band has something of a documentary pedigree: Frontiers and Beyond, a movie about Journey’s 1983 tour produced by NFL Films and featuring patrician narration from sports broadcaster John Facenda. He describes Journey and its crew as “70 modern-day troubadours and roustabouts, crisscrossing the country in seven tractor trailers and three buses, towing the portable pieces of state-of-the-art rock ‘n’ roll theater.”

Frontiers and Beyond isn’t showing at Silverdocs, an omission the festival may want to reconsider. After all, it’s the movie the band made to commemorate its 10th anniversary.

Silverdocs runs June 18 to 24 at the AFI Silver Theatre, Discovery HD Theater, and Round House Theatre in Silver Spring. Most passes are $13. For a full schedule and information about festival passes, visit silverdocs.com.

Monday, June 18

Openings

Schedule (Openings marked with **)

Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey** 7 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 1

Tuesday, June 19

Openings

Schedule (Openings marked with **)

Virgin Tales** 12:15 p.m. Discovery HD Theater
Chasing Ice** 4:30 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 1
Tea or Electricity** 5:30 p.m. Round House Theatre
Sweet Dreams** 6:15 p.m. AFI Silver 2
Tokyo Waka: A City Poem** 7:15 p.m. Discovery HD Theater
1/2 Revolution** 8 p.m. Round House Theatre
Waiting Room** 8:45 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 2
Meet the Fokkens** 9:15 p.m. Discovery HD Theater
The Punk Syndrome** 10:45 p.m. AFI Silver 3

Shorts

Family Nightmare
3:15 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 3

Wednesday, June 20

Openings

Schedule (Openings marked with **)

Chasing Ice 12:45 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 3
Waiting Room 2:15 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 1
Sun Kissed** 4 p.m. AFI Sivler Theatre 2
The Punk Syndrome 4:45 p.m. AFI Silver 1
Seeking Asian Female** 6 p.m. Discovery HD Theater
Drivers Wanted** 8 p.m. Round House Theatre
Virgin Tales 8:30 p.m. Discovery HD Theater
China Heavyweight** 10 p.m. Round House Theatre

Shorts

If Himmler Played Guitar**
Catcam**
American Juggalo**
Well-Fed**
Meaning of Robots**
12 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 1

Thursday, June 21

Openings

Schedule (Openings marked with **)

China Heavyweight 11:30 a.m. AFI Silver Theatre 2
Seeking Asian Female 2 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 3
Tea or Electricity 3:30 p.m. Discovery HD Theater
A Girl Like Her** 5:30 p.m. Round House Theatre
We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists** 6 p.m. Discovery HD Theatre
Ann Richards' Texas** 6 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 1
Detropia** 7:30 p.m. Round House Theatre
Plimpton!** 8:30 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 1
Fame High** 8:30 p.m. Discovery HD Theatre
Joe Papp in Five Acts** 9:15 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 3
The Final Member** 9:45 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 2

Shorts

If Himmler Played Guitar
Catcam
American Juggalo
Well-Fed
Meaning of Robots
4:45 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 3

Friday, June 22

Openings

Schedule (Openings marked with **)

Meet the Fokkens 10 a.m. AFI Silver Theatre 3
Detropia 10:30 a.m. AFI Silver Theatre 2
Photographic Memory** 1:15 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 2
The Central Park Effect** 2 p.m. Discovery HD Theater
Missing (shown with The Central Park Effect)** 2 p.m. Discovery HD Theater
Wagner's Dream** 2:30 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 1
Fame High 3:30 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 2
The Revisionaries ** 6 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 2
1/2 Revolution 6:15 p.m. Round House Theatre
The Final Member 8:15 p.m. Round House Theatre
Sweet Dreams 9 p.m. Discovery HD Theater
Drivers Wanted 9:15 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 3
Charles Bradley: Soul of America** 10:30 p.m. Round House Theatre

Shorts

Family Nightmare
12 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 1
7: 30 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 1

Saturday, June 23

Openings

Schedule (Openings marked with **)

Plimpton! 12 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 2
A Girl Like Her 1 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 3
Trash Dance** 3:45 p.m. Round House Theatre
Ann Richards' Texas 4:30 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 2
Joe Papp in Five Acts 4:45 p.m. Discovery HD Theater
Tokyo Waka: A City Poem 5:45 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 3
Sun Kissed 6 p.m. Round House Theatre
Radio Unnameable** 6:45 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 2
The Revisionaries 8:15 p.m. Round House Theatre
We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists 10:45 p.m. Round House Theatre

Shorts

Mondays at Racine**
Love Hacking**
12:30 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 1

Sunday, June 24

Openings

Schedule (Openings marked with **)

Charles Bradley: Soul of America 9:45 a.m. Round House Theatre
The Central Park Effect 10 a.m. AFI Silver Theatre 1
Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey 12:15 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 1
Photographic Memory 12:45 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 2
Trash Dance 1:30 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 3
Radio Unnameable 2 p.m. Round House Theatre
Wagner's Dream 5:15 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 3

Shorts

10 a.m. AFI Silver Theatre 1
Mondays at Racine
Love Hacking
11 a.m. AFI Silver Theatre 3
5: 30 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre 2
Correction: Due to a reporting error, the article originally misstated the number of films showing at Silverdocs. There are 114.

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