Silverdocs, the largest documentary festival in the country, will return to Silver Spring’s AFI Theatre June 18 through 24, and today the organizers released this year’s lineup. The festival will open and close with music-themed movies, kicking off with Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey, Ramona Diaz’s story about the Filipino singer whose YouTube videos scored him a new gig as the lead singer for Journey. The closing night film is Big Easy Express, in which Emmett Malloy follows Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, and Old Crow Medicine Show as they travel from California to New Orleans by train, stopping to perform in six cities on the way.
Last year’s festival, which opened with The Swell Season about Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, also had a music theme, but this year’s festival goes one further by giving us a film about a local band: ’70s hardcore punk/reggae group Bad Brains. In the succinctly titled Bad Brains: A Band in DC, Mandy Stein and Benjamen Logan explore the group’s 30-year history through interviews, archive footage, and animated sequences, with sound bites from local notables such as Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye and Black Flag’s Henry Rollins (read the Wired review of the movie here).
There are 118 films on the roster this year from 44 countries, with 7 world premieres and 7 more films that have never been screened in the US. The annual Guggenheim Symposium this year honors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, whose films include Brother’s Keeper, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, and the Paradise Lost trilogy. Berlinger’s most recent film, Under African Skies, which follows the making of Paul Simon’s seminal 1987 album, Graceland, will also be screened at the festival.
In terms of arts, there are films about two great contemporary artists: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, and Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present. Punk is explored in a different context in The Punk Syndrome, a film about Finnish band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät, whose members have special needs. Radio Unnameable looks at the life of DJ Bob Fass, while Joe Papp in Five Acts interviews Meryl Streep, Olympia Dukakis, and more about the theatrical producer and director. Beauty Is Embarrassing follows artist Wayne White, known for his work on Pee-wee’s Playhouse and award-winning music videos for Peter Gabriel and the Smashing Pumpkins. There are also films by notable directors Eugene Jarecki (The House I Live In), Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Detropia), and Ross McElwee (Photographic Memory), among others.
Silverdocs will open June 18, with six days of films screenings, panel discussions, master classes, and more. For a full look at this year’s lineup, visit the festival’s website.