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Thoughts on Silverdocs

I love film festivals, so when I heard about Silverdocs, the documentary exclusive film festival in Silver Spring, Maryland, I got pretty excited. I made the trek from Virginia to Maryland last Friday night, and even though only had the opportunity to see two films, both were very good.

(from Flickr user Kevin H.)

This puts my experience from the Cleveland International Film Festival into perspective.

There was really a lot of excitement and buzz surrounding CIFF that I simply didn’t feel with Silverdocs. Maybe it’s because Silverdocs was out in Maryland rather than in the city; maybe it’s because it played at a theater with only three screens; maybe it’s because there’s so much stuff going on in DC that a film festival doesn’t dominate the local culture for its entire duration – I honestly do not know.

Both films I attended were on standby when I checked on Friday morning, but both screenings had empty seats. I seriously question if it makes sense for film festivals to hold so many tickets for standby. I understand that pass-holders need to be accommodated, but there has to be a more accurate way to predict how many of them will show up. More pre-sale tickets will put more people in the seats at these festivals. I am very confident about this.

One day I’d like to get out to Sundance or Toronto or one of the big-name festivals, just to see how they compare. Overall, Silverdocs was a very nice film festival, even if more low-key than CIFF.


B. P. Beckley said…
I used to go to the American Film Institute theater all the time when I lived in Washington and they were still located in the Kennedy Center. I never saw a film in Silver Spring, though. AFI's a weird organization -- I wouldn't be surprised if they're not all that focused on local filmgoers at all.

I don't think Silverdocs was running 10 years ago, because I don't see how I could have resisted going.

Washington does have film festivals -- you're right that they never seemed as big a deal as CIFF is in Cleveland. I don't know the relative size of any film festival in DC and CIFF.
Rob Pitingolo said…
B.P., if I understand correctly, Silverdocs began in 2003. I think, overall, that it's probably less than half the size of CIFF (in terms of the number of films and number of screenings).

One thing that got on my nerves about the AFI theater is the nepotism of the organization. Before every movie they show a reel of famous directors talking about how amazing the theater is. Give me a break...
B. P. Beckley said…
Before every movie they show a reel of famous directors talking about how amazing the theater is.
Huh, professionalism in action, I guess. They didn't do that when I was still going. In fact, they generally didn't have any introductions or previews. The movie just started.

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