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Silverdocs Documentary FF

Online Dailies Coverage of SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival taking place June 21-27, 2010 at the AFI Silver Theater


Obama On Film And On The Web


by Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Dailies Editor

President Barack Obama is, if nothing else, very telegenic.....the camera simply loves him and cannot get enough. This fact plus his historic ascendancy in a mere two years from junior Senator to the top political leader of the world is an astounding one that will certainly be the stuff of legend in years to come. But for the moment, we are living that legend and the media fascination on and surrounding Obama is electric.

After a bitter and often brutal primary campaign, the Democratic National Convention, held in Denver in the summer of 2008 was meant to be the new candidate's crowning moment. But conventions are complicated affairs and three-ring circuses in their own right, something that is effectively and brilliantly captured in the film CONVENTION, which received its World Premiere at the SILVERDOCS Documentary Film Festival on Wednesday night.

Acclaimed director AJ Schnack assembled a group of celebrated documentary filmmakers and cinematographers to capture the euphoria, tensions and human moments of the Convention and bring out more of a visually poetic perspective than a traditional news crew would have. Among the participating documentarians, all award-winning film artists in their own right, were Laura  Poitras (MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY), Paul Taylor (WE ARE TOGETHER), Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar (A LION IN THE HOUSE), Nathan Truesdell (LAST BREATH) and David Wilson (INSTEAD OF ME).

Schnack himself is the author and editor of the blog All These Wonderful Things, one of the most widely read online resources for non-fiction filmmaking and co-chair of the Cinema Eye Honors. His films include KURT COBAIN ABOUT A SON and GIGANTIC (A TALE OF TWO JOHNS), both of which were award winners on the film festival circuit and eventually were distributed in the U.S. and internationally.

For this omnibus project, the cinematographers turns their camera eye to the orgaizers, reporters, police and protestors to capture the essence of what the mainstream media left out. It is dense with memorable behind-the-scenes images and vignettes, revealing the many logistical meetings by the event organizers, punctuated by members of both the Obama and Clinton camps, clammering for their priorities in a white-hot atmosphere of tension and euphoria. Everyone seemed to realize that this convention was particularly would either nominated a Presidential candidate who was African-American or a woman, either way a major first.

Ironically, there is very little Obama to appreciate on screen, since the focus is on the people and events surrounding his crowning moment. That however is not the case for a newly announced web tv venture that features all the Obama that anyone could ask for. Film Annex (, a website that hosts the work of classic and emerging film artists announced this week that it has commenced webcasting Obama Web TV (, a web television network dedicated to the videos of President Barack Obama and his administration, including speeches, campaign videos, and interviews.

The new web resource documents Obama's dramatic journey from the beginning of his presidential campaign until the historic election. The videos go back to 2007 and include his momentous speeches in South Carolina, New Hampshire, Denver, and Iowa amongst others. In addition,short documentaries of his visit to New Orleans and Puerto Rico, videos of student groups supporting Obama and taking an active interest in the elections, and interviews with Barack and Michelle Obama also constitute a major part of this educational and inspirational platform.

By dedicating a web television outlet to the Obama Administration, Film Annex creates not only a historic record of his road to the Presidency, but encourages audiences, especially young people and students, to become engaged politically.

Obsessed with Obama? Have we got a web platform for you....... 

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About Silverdocs Documentary FF

Sandy Mandelberger
(International Media Resources)

Online Dailies Coverage of SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival, taking place at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland from June 21 to 27, 2010.

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