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Posted at 11:49 AM ET, 06/15/2005

Silverdocs Kicks Off

By Jen Chaney

What I love most about the annual Silverdocs festival, a celebration of documentary film, are the moments when counterculture and suburban culture clash. Last year it happened during the outdoor screening of a doc about punk rock legend Joe Strummer, which was followed by an energetic performance from indie rocker Ted Leo. This terrific celebration of anti-establishment music took place in downtown Silver Spring in front of ... an Ann Taylor Loft. It didn't diminish the quality of the event, but it definitely made me laugh.

Last night's kick-off to this year's Silverdocs, at the AFI Silver Theatre now through Sunday, overflowed with similar moments. The entire event was themed around the opening night film, "Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream." Consequently, at the after-party held at nearby Discovery Channel headquarters, I had the mind-blowing experience of seeing Montgomery County officials like Doug Duncan mingling as footage of Divine performing lewd sexual acts in John Waters's "Pink Flamingos" played on a screen nearby. Actors dressed as Divine, Dr. Frank N. Furter from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and a zombie from "Night of the Living Dead" -- all movies that were featured in Stuart Samuels's entertaining documentary -- also paraded through the proceedings at the pre-screening cocktail reception and the post-party. Really, you haven't lived until you've seen Maryland Sen. Ida Rubin in the same room with a sweet transvestite.

Wondering which of the 89 documentaries you should try to catch over the next five days? Weekend film critic Desson Thomson highlighted a number of worthwhile films in this article. In particular, I recommend "Murderball," a fascinating, often moving documentary about players for the U.S. Paralympic Rugby Team; it screens Friday at 7:15 p.m. If you love bawdy humor, you also won't want to miss the "God Love the Dirty Joke" event on Saturday, which begins at 5:30 p.m. Round House Theatre with a screening of "The Comedians of Comedy," followed by a panel discussion at 8 p.m. (the genius Fred Willard is one of the comics participating) and a screening of the much-buzzed-about "Aristocrats" at the Silver Theatre at 10 p.m. Lastly, if you miss the old 9:30 Club (and who doesn't miss trying to watch a show from behind a huge wooden post?), you should catch "9:30 F Street," a doc about the history of the beloved venue that screens Sunday at 8 p.m.

Silverdocs is truly a great festival, so carve out as much time as you can to explore the many worthwhile screenings. And if you need to take a break for some shopping, Ann Taylor Loft is conveniently located nearby.

-- Jen

By Jen Chaney  | June 15, 2005; 11:49 AM ET
Categories:  Movies  
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