For movie fans, especially documentary buffs, this week is a real treat. The SILVERDOCS AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival begins Tuesday, June 12, and goes through Sunday, June 17 at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring.
More than 100 films are playing at SILVERDOCS, an overwhelming number for even the biggest documentary freak. Below are the films I’m most excited about seeing this year; maybe my recommendations will help you narrow down your choices. But this lineup looks to be one of SILVERDOCS’ best in years, and most of the films are worth checking out.
Tickets for SILVERDOCS are on sale now (individual screenings are $10 each) and you can browse the films at this link.
Helvetica, Saturday, June 16, 9 pm; Sunday, June 17, 9:15 pm. It may seem surprising that a film about a typeface has created so much buzz, but Helvetica was a huge hit at SXSW, and it’s sure to be packed on Saturday and Sunday, the area’s first screenings of the film. The quirky documentary follows the history of the Helvetica font from its creation during the Modernist movement through the rebellion against the font’s corporate usage to its acceptance today as an eminently useful font.
Coma, 4 pm, Wednesday, June 13. Coma follows four people for a year after each has suffered massive head trauma and been left in an unresponsive state. Observing more than narrating, the documentary shows who the people were before their injuries and how their families are dealing with the harsh reality.
Stand Up: Muslim-American Comics Come of Age, 10:15 pm, Wednesday, June 13. Can a film be both hilarious and a sobering meditation on racial issues and the war on terror? This one at least gives it a shot. Stand Up focuses on the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival, a talent show where the comedians turn their real-life experiences as Muslims in America into comedy.
Big Rig, 9:15 pm Thursday, June 14; 6:15 pm Friday, June 15; 8:30 pm Sunday, June 17. Ever wondered about the lifestyle of long-haul truck drivers? Big Rig shows that they might be more interesting than you realized. The colorful drivers interviewed in this film tell how they got into truck driving and what makes them stay there. It also shows the impact of gas prices on these folks; truck drivers pay for their own gas, so when prices shoot up, it makes their lives more difficult.
Super Amigos, 10:45 pm Friday, June 15. Luchadores, or Mexican wrestlers, have caught the fancy of American popular culture, as well as being huge stars in Mexico. But Super Amigos asks whether luchadores can be more than just fanciful characters. The documentary follows five wrestlers who are trying to cure society’s ills.