City Desk

Silverdocs Movies Getting Wide Release

Still lamenting the fact that you missed some Silverdocs screenings last month and don't know when you'll get the chance to see them again?  Have no fear.  POV, the PBS series dedicated to documentaries with a point of view, is showing several programs that previously played in Silver Spring throughout the summer and into the fall.

First up is The Betrayal (Nerakhoon), a 2008 Silverdocs selection.  It's the story of Thavi Phrasavath, a Laotian refugee who struggles to support his family and himself after they leave their native country following the US bombing of Laos during the Vietnam War.  Director Ellen Kuras met Phrasavath in 1986, when she was seeking language lesson and their relationship culminated in the production of this documentary.  Kuras followed Thavi for the next 23 years, through gang wars and death threats, and captures the ultimate betrayals within and outside the family.

Two of the short films from the 2009 festival and one from 2008 will air in an evening of award-winning short documentaries.  Utopia, Part 3: The World's Largest Shopping Mall focuses on a new mall built in China's Guangzhou province that is supposed to lure visitors to the rural area but instead remains a ghost town.  Nutkin's Last Stand tells the story of a group of squirrel enthusiasts in Britain who want to protect the diminishing population of red squirrels, so they resort to killing the American gray squirrels who have been descimating the population.  And City of Cranes focuses on a group of crane operators in London, who narrate the documentary while the cranes appear as a graceful addition to the city.

Later in the summer, This Way Up, the story of residents at a Catholic-run nursing home in East Jerusalem.  A wall of concrete slabs run past the door of the nursing home, dividing the city.  Unfortunately for the Palestinian residents of the home, they become separated from their families when the wall that zig-zags through the West Bank places the nursing home on the Israeli side.  Told from the point of view of Jad, one of the male residents, the documentary shows the variety of ways the residents learn to cope with their new separation.

Finally, sometime in September is the TV premiere of Bronx Princess, the story of Rocky Otoo, the daughter of Ghanaian immigrants who grew up in the Bronx.  Chronicalling her last months before beginning college, the film shows Rocky breaking free of her parents' traditions while trying to define her values.  The crew follows her from graduation to her father's village in Ghana to her new home at Dickinson College and all the while, Rocky provides her own commentary about her life, and nobody else's.

Air times vary depending on which PBS station you watch, so check listings before tuning in.

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