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Martin Scorcese to be honored at Silverdocs festival

Veteran director Martin Scorsese will be honored at SILVERDOCS: The AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival, the most prestigious showcase for non-fiction films in the United States.

Scorsese will receive the Festival’s highest honor at the Charles Guggenheim Symposium on June 15th, during the Festival’s six-day mix of screenings, seminars and tributes to be held at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Springs, Maryland, in the suburbs of Washington DC. The Festival, a collaboration between the American Film Institute and non-fiction television and media giant Discovery Networks, runs from June 13 to 18, 2006.

Scorsese is one of a handful of American directors who has consistently excelled in both the narrative and non-fiction forms. The Charles Guggenheim Symposium, named after the late, four-time Academy Award winner Charles Guggenheim, honors a filmmaker who exhibits a passion for their subject, conveys a profound respect for democratic values and has mastered the power of the documentary to capture current events and frame history.

Scorsese’s documentary work reflects his personal passions, for his native city of New York, his background growing up in the Little Italy neighborhood of hard-working immigrants, street toughs and “made men” Mafiosi. He first came to attention with short film works in the mid 1960’s, worked on several Roger Corman B-movies, and eventually broke through with his landmark film MEAN STREETS (1973).

Just one year later, he directed his first documentary film, ITALIANAMERICAN (1974), a riotous yet reverent portrait of his parents and the Little Italy neighborhood that continued to influence and fascinate him in his later narrative work. Another early personal documentary work was 1978’s AMERICAN BOY: A PROFILE OF STEVEN PRINCE, a haunting portrait of his childhood friend who became addicted to drugs.

The world of music has always fascinated the director. He cut his teeth professionally as one of several editors on the landmark documentary WOODSTOCK (1970) and MEDICINE BALL CARAVAN (1971). His widely admired documentary THE LAST WALTZ ( (1978), chronicling an all-star send-off to the influential rock group The Band, is arguably the finest concert movie ever made. More recently, Scorsese has directed and produced the television documentaries MARTIN SCORSESE PRESENTS: THE BLUES (2003) and last season’s award-winning NO DIRECTION HOME: BOB DYLAN, the definitive portrait of the ground-breaking singer/songwriter.

The influence of film on his personal psyche and the pop culture of contemporary America has also been a tremendous influence. The television documentary, A PERSONAL JOURNEY WITH MARTIN SCORSESE THROUGH AMERICAN MOVIES, is a highly personal look at American films of the early to mid 20th century, which traces the masterworks of directors from the silent era through the films of the early 1960s, when Scorsese himself began to make his own films.

IL MIO VIAGGIO IN ITALIA (My Voyage To Italy, 1999) is a remarkable and affectionate tribute to the mesmerizing power of neo-realist Italian cinema from the great directors Fellini, Rossellini, De Sica, and Visconti. The film, produced for Italian television, runs for nearly six hours, but contains images and impressions that profoundly touched the young Scorsese when he first discovered these cinematic masterpieces in his youth.

As part of the Symposium, the SILVERDOCS Festival will screen a series of excerpts from Scorsese's body of documentary work. Scorsese will be joined on stage by special guests for a discussion of his unique and inspiring career.

Sandy Mandelberger
Industry Editor


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