The main subject of Julie Wyman’s STRONG!, Olympic weightlifter Cheryl Haworth, greets Silverdocs volunteers after a screening at this year’s 2012 festival. 

The main subject of Julie Wyman’s STRONG!, Olympic weightlifter Cheryl Haworth, greets Silverdocs volunteers after a screening at this year’s 2012 festival. 

2012 Silverdocs “BEST OF THE FEST”:

These films came back by popular demand for “Best of the Fest” on Monday, June 25th.


Andrew Garrison

Audience Award for Best Feature

A trash collector pulls to the side of the road, picks up a can and dumps its contents into the back of his truck as thousands watch, captivated. TRASH DANCE documents the creation of a beautiful dance piece inspired by the work of often unnoticed public servants – sanitation workers. Audiences will fall in love with the characters of this film, and cheer them on as they give the performance of their lives.



Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert

Audience Award Winner for Best Short

Sheri “Sparkle” Williams has been a star dancer with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company for nearly 40 years – a track record virtually unheard of in the professional dance community. When the powerhouse dancer suffers her first serious injury, she must work to recover in time for a triumphant return to the stage at the age of 49.



Peter Nicks

The complexity of the nation’s public health care system is etched in intimate detail in this poignant vérité portrait of an American public hospital and the community of patients and caregivers that intersect with it. The ER waiting room in Oakland’s Highland Hospital serves as the backdrop to an encounter with a diverse community of largely uninsured patients – a young victim of gun violence, small business owners, international asylum seekers – alongside an indefatigable staff charged with caring for them. Although seemingly about one hospital, THE WAITING ROOM serves as a microcosm for the national health care landscape marked by historic economic and political dysfunction.



Alexa Karolinski

Best friends Bella and Regina share an apartment in Berlin, a passion for homespun Eastern European cooking and an extraordinary life history. Though Holocaust memories are never distant, their days are busy with gossip-filled visits to the hair salon, goofy soap operas, spirited family gatherings and – above all – the balm of lovingly-prepared dishes remembered from a fading era. L’Chaim meets guten Appetit in a nuanced celebration of indomitable camaraderie and remarkable, nurturing lives.



Tom Bean, Luke Poling

Prominent writer, editor, amateur sportsman and friend to some of the world’s most powerful people, the late George Plimpton lived a life of dreams. Known for his willingness to try almost anything in the name of journalism, Plimpton has played quarterback for the Detroit Lions, acted in films alongside John Wayne and Tom Hanks, co-founded The Paris Review, played triangle for the New York Philharmonic and performed in a circus flying trapeze act. PLIMPTON! gives an unprecedented look into the world of this most fascinating Renaissance man.



Scott Hamilton Kennedy

FAME HIGH documents the lives of four talented high school students (an actress, a dancer, a pianist and a songwriter) struggling to gain fame, credibility and a diploma from Los Angeles’ premiere performing arts high school. Full of passionate performances and the intimate moments of teenage life, this film is sure to inspire and entertain audiences.



Debbie Lum

Twice-divorced 60-something Steven lives a quiet life by himself in San Francisco and has a “thing” for Asian women. When he meets 30-year-old Chinese national Sandy online, love blossoms quickly over the Internet. With plans to marry, Steven brings Sandy over from China, but the fantasies both have about each other turn out to be far from reality. With filmmaker Debbie Lum caught in the middle as an impromptu language translator between the two, SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE offers a humorous take on modern romance and the challenges of keeping any relationship together.



Scott Thurman 

Mild-mannered Don McLeroy is a dentist, an evangelical Christian and an avowed Young Earth Creationist. He was also the Chairman of the Texas State Board of Education. Once every decade, the 15 members of the Board meet to revise the textbook standards for five million schoolchildren. THE REVISIONARIES presents a rare behind-the-scenes look at the often fierce battle over what material is being taught in history and science books that will influence an entire generation of American children.



Keith Patterson, Jack Lofton

Writers Guild of America East Award Winner

In a state known for outsized political personalities, a silver-haired lady from Austin became one of the biggest and boldest by speaking her mind and sticking to her guns. The high-energy ANN RICHARDS’ TEXAS celebrates her rise in the Democratic Party, her improbable turn as governor and her legacy as a feisty liberal icon. Bigwigs and big stars alike reflect on her unique appeal among an electorate that later embraced George W. Bush and Rick Perry.



React to Film Award Winner

Matthew Heineman, Susan Froemke

What went wrong with America’s healthcare system, and how can it be fixed? In ESCAPE FIRE, filmmakers Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke examine the nuts and bolts of the current battle raging over a healthcare system that is seemingly broken. Drawing from harrowing personal stories and the ongoing efforts of those trying to make a positive difference, this hard-hitting film focuses on finding workable solutions. 



Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing

Once it may have been music, manufacturing or automobiles that defined Detroit but now, through the eyes of the makers of JESUS CAMP, it is its near dissolution and the scrappy residents fighting to keep it alive. While we meet numerous remarkable characters striving to make ends meet and to make sense of their city teetering on the brink of collapse, it is Detroit itself that emerges as its central and most evocative character. The intricate rhythms of desolation, survival and rebirth make DETROPIA a worthy heir of one of the founding glories of the documentary cinema – the city symphony.



Jason Tippet, Elizabeth Mims

Sterling US and Sterling Short Award Winner

For three teens in the depressed suburb of Santa Clarita, California, the world is not so much a foreclosed wasteland of dry pools and shuttered businesses, but a post-apocalyptic playground where they can escape from the ruins of broken homes and explore different paths to maturity, independence and romance.  Directors Tippet and Mims draw a chaste love triangle with cinematic tenderness, finding unexpected beauty in arcs of awkwardness, irreverence, rebellion, angst, joy and nascent wisdom.


Sari Gilman 

Welcome to Kings Point, a retirement community located just outside of West Palm Beach, Florida. Inhabited by numerous transplants from New York who were lured by the promise of sunshine and palm trees, Kings Point is a place where retirees have begun a new part of their lives, for some the final chapter. This poignant film closely follows six longtime residents who share their stories of the challenges of starting over in a place where new bonds are formed for some, while others can never bring themselves to get too close.



Victor Kassakovsky

Cinematic Vision Award Winner

Imagine a camera able to pierce the planet and expose the opposite ends of the earth that lie diametrically opposed to one another. Acclaimed filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky reveals the sheer kinetic and visual splendor of the corners of our planet when he explores four pairs of dry-land antipodes: Argentina and downtown Shanghai, Lake Baikal in Russia and Patagonia in Chile, the active volcano Kilauea in Hawaii and the village of Kubu in Botswana, and Miraflores, Spain and the beach at Castle Point, New Zealand. In the end, it is not the differences, but the uncanny similarities that are most striking.



Seungiun Yi

Sterling World Award Winner

The poetry of the cinema merges fantastically with the poetry of touch, taste and smell when filmmaker Seung-Jun Yi encounters the deaf and blind South Korean poet Young-Chan. Through visually striking imagery and intimate detail, we see what it takes to forge a life of creative productivity and erotic happiness for a remarkable figure unwilling to accept as limitations the world of sight and sound from which he is isolated.



Eugene Jarecki

React to Film Award Winner

America’s “war on drugs” officially began 40 years ago under the leadership of then President Richard Nixon. Over the course of four decades, America’s drug problem has only become worse. What went wrong? Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki (WHY WE FIGHT) offers a sobering comprehensive view of contemporary drug culture and examines the troubling realities of a broken system whose very existence, he argues, is making the problem worse rather than better.


Here are some snapshots from the festival that were entries for the second annual #yearofdocs contest. We asked festival-goers to tweet us photographs from the festival. The winning photos were randomly picked amongst the entries. Winners receive a pass to any documentary screening at the AFI Silver year-round. Congrats to the winning photos for participating in the second annual #yearofdocs. And, thanks to everyone who submitted photos from this year’s festival. 

Catch up on all the coverage of the fest including Filmmaker conversations with Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady (DETROPIA), Eugene Jarecki (THE HOUSE I LIVE IN), David France (HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE) plus even more. 

Did you miss the adored second annual Silverdocs Tonight show with filmmaker A.J. Schnack? We got you covered here with coverage from Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. 


…and the Audience Award for Feature goes to: TRASH DANCE. Come experience filmmaker Andrew Garrison’s feature for “Best of Fest” at 8:30 P.M. 

The film is preceded by the Audience Award Short SPARKLE, a Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert film. 

LBJ hits the Silver Spring streets and his impact is felt immediately. He traveled all the way to Silverdocs to wow the festival. The creation was made by artist Wayne White, the subject of Neil Berkeley’s film BEAUTY IS EMBARRASSING. The film is embarking on a kickstarter campaign that is nearing the finish. Help bring the film to theaters in the United States by visiting the page and pledging. 

The stars of BROOKLYN CASTLE with Chess Challengers of Washington DC and filmmaker Katie Dellamaggiore (far right) after an afternoon of playing chess in the plaza of Silver Spring.

The stars of BROOKLYN CASTLE with Chess Challengers of Washington DC and filmmaker Katie Dellamaggiore (far right) after an afternoon of playing chess in the plaza of Silver Spring.

The stars of the film BROOKLYN CASTLE spent the afternoon in the plaza in Silver Spring, MD doing what they do best — chess. One of the chess stars in the film Pobo Efekoro was explaining chess to his opponent and shared, “simple chess is the best chess.” The film played twice at Silverdocs 2012. To learn more about the film visit

Tickets are on sale for AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival, June 18 - 24 2012!

Now in it's 10th edition Silverdocs is the most talked about documentary festival in the United States, called “Non-Fiction Nirvana” by Variety, the “Pre-eminent documentary Festival in the US” by Screen International and the “premiere showcase for documentary film” by Hollywood Reporter.

Silverdocs encompasses a seven-day international film festival and five-day concurrent conference that promotes documentary film as a leading art form, supports the work of independent filmmakers and fosters an atmosphere for public dialogue and civic engagement around the issues and ideas explored in the films.

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