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Ten Films In SILVERDOCS Feature Film Competition

SILVERDOCS: The AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival, which begins next week, has announced the 10 films that will be competing for the Sterling Award Feature Film prize at its event.

The Festival, which has become one of the leading showcases of non-fiction film in the world, mixes film screenings with information panels and special events to offer a comprehensive look at the current state of the art of documentary film, and where the art form may go in the future.

As one can imagine in these troubled geo-political times, several of the films in the Feature Film Competition deal with the ramifications of war and political violence. In US director Andrew Berrend’s THE BLOOD OF MY BROTHER: A STORY OF DEATH IN IRAQ, a shattering portrait emerges of an ordinary Iraqi man, caught between the necessity of supporting his family and his desire to join the Shia uprising to avenge his brother’s killing by American troops. In GUERRILA GIRL, Danish director Frank Piasecki Poulsen turns his camera onto a 21-year-old woman, who leaves behind her friends and family, and joins the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, a guerrilla militia located in the deep jungle.

The road to self-determination and self-expression is also a common theme among the Feature Film Competition contenders. Italian director Alberto Vendemmiati follows a Venetian woman during her five-year struggle to quality for a state-subsidized sex change operation, as she wrestles with emotional, physical and financial challenges, in the film LA PERSONA DE LEO N. In CHAIRMAN GEORGE, Canadian directors Daniel Cross and Mila Aung-Thwin offer a portrait of a Greek-Canadian statistician whose dream is to sing at the Beijing Olympic Games. In German director Marco Wilms’ TAILOR-MADE DREAMS, an Indian tailor facing retired get to live out his life-long theatrical ambitions as he travels across Europe enacting vibrants scene out of his own Bollywood fantasies.

Shared humanity and the longing for human interaction are explored in several films in the section. In Israeli director Tomer Heymann’s PAPER DOLLS, five Filipino transsexual immigrants living in Israel peform together in a burlesque drag show, as they spend their days caring for aging and ailing religious Hasidim. LOVE LETTERS FROM A CHILDREN’S PRISON, by Norwegian director David Kinsella, offers a poignant portrait of a young convict in a Russian prison whose is torn between criminality and the love letters from a young girl who urge him towards a better life. In THE RAILROAD ALL STARS, Spanish director Chema Rodriguez tells the unusual story of a group of Guatemalan prostitute who form a soccer team in order to raise awareness and provide respite from the violence that constantly threatens them.

US director Mark Woolen’s JAM points its camera eye on the reunion of a motley group of former roller derby stars, who cling to old war stories and shared experiences to provide a sense of their own worth and the need for community. In a different kind of shared communal experience, a group of young adults find their meaning at an evangelical Christian summer camp in the eye-opening film JESUS CAMP, directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady.

A diverse group of films that explore timely subjects and universal themes makes this the strongest competition line up yet at SILVERDOCS.

Sandy Mandelberger
International Media Resources

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Dates: June 13-18, 2006

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