Silverdocs 2010 Kicks Off with Help from SOC
American University School of Communication's support for the Silverdocs Documentary Festival will be on display this week on the backs of hundreds of volunteers, whose bright yellow shirts will carry the AU SOC logo. The shirts are also debuting the school's "Real to Reel" program logo. The Real to Reel program's purpose is to show and to share the powerful educational value of documentary film making.
Several SOC students will be among the volunteers while others will be attending screenings and participating in the associated conference. "The festival and the conference are an amazing opportunity," says SOC student Matthew Gordon who volunteered last year but decided to buy a student pass this year. "I was truly blown away by what a great learning and networking experience it was. You could just walk up and talk to some of the best filmmakers around."
Aditi Desai will be among those presenting films at the student pitch session. "I will be pitching my thesis film, Entangled, which features the annual competitive kite flying festival in Gujarat, India," says Desai. "I am excited about the opportunity to practice pitching in front of industry professionals and to get useful feedback from them. I'll also be attending much of the festival and conference and am hoping to learn information that will help me in my future work."
SOC has partnered with Silverdocs from the beginning because they share the same goals, says Dean Larry Kirkman. "We are creating storytellers who, like many of the documentarians here and the festival itself, seek to illuminate important issues and reach the public and its leaders through film." Kirkman and several faculty members will be at Silverdocs to participate in a concurrent educational conference.
American University is a contributing sponsor of the week-long event that features 102 films from 54 countries and draws thousands of fans. Co-sponsored by The Discovery Channel and the American Film Institute, this is the eighth year for the festival, which Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday says "has steadily gained audiences and recognition among filmmakers as an important venue for nonfiction films."
In addition to sponsoring the volunteer shirts, SOC is also the sponsor of the film On Coal River, a documentary about medical problems resulting from West Virginia’s coal mining industry. The film will be shown Friday, June 25th, at 6:15 p.m. and again Saturday, June 26th, at 6:45 p.m. Following the Saturday showing, the filmmakers Francine Cavanaugh and Adams Wood, and film subjects Bo Webb, Judy Bonds, and Ed and Deb Wiley will be part of a panel discussion led by SOC’s Distinguished Journalist in Residence, Charles Lewis.
Professor John Douglass, director of SOC’s Film and Media Arts division, calls Silverdocs a "marvelous" learning opportunity. "Students often see getting their film into a major film festival such as this as an important step into the professional world," he says.
"Getting to know who the people are that run the festival, and to see how it works is a big help in thinking through the process of submitting their own work to festivals. Plus, having daily access to so many exceptional films and exceptional documentary producers is an education in itself."