From stars to champs, troll movies to fashion mags, and international artists to famed former mayors, this year’s AFI/Discovery Channel SILVERDOCS spanned the whole spectrum
By Joel Sparks
Officially, there was no theme to June’s massive AFI/Discovery Channel SILVERDOCS Documentary Festival, but as it turned out, the major names punctuating the week were mostly those of successful African American men. “There’s a progression of responses to the collective unconscious of filmmakers,” says Sky Sitney, displaying the erudition that helped propel this young woman to the post of SILVERDOCS Artistic Director in four short years. Citing the election of Barack Obama as a touchstone, Sitney clarified, “Filmmakers this year have tapped into the zeitgeist of African American icons and a generational shift of power and perspective.”
On opening night, accordingly, the streets of Silver Spring echoed to cries of “Where’s LeBron?” “Did you see LeBron?” and “I saw LeBron!” elevating basketball star LeBron James to Madonna-like status. James was indeed there, all easy grace, stepping onto the red carpet in pinstripes, open collar, and shades. He joined filmmaker Kristopher Belman and fellow subjects for the screening and discussion of More than a Game, the story of James and four other boys from Akron, Ohio, rising to high school b-ball fame. Later, James’ confident grin floated over the marching band and cheerleaders of Blair High School, leading festival goers to the vertiginous atrium of the Discovery Communications headquarters for dancing, glow-in-the-dark martini glasses, and performances by local rappers Wale and Tabi Bonney.