The Washington Post

Facing Reality the Silverdocs Way
Thursday, June 11, 2009

By Ann Hornaday

Movie fans will be spoiled for choice when the Silverdocs Documentary Film Festival gets underway Monday. Many of the tent-pole screenings are no-brainers. Who would want to miss the festival’s opening-night feature, “More Than a Game,” about LeBron James, or the retrospective of films by Charles Guggenheim Symposium honoree Albert Maysles?

But what about the hundred-plus other nonfiction films? What to watch and what to skip? Luckily, a few of them have played the festival circuit, so we can single them out for must-see status.

Among those not to miss: “Racing Dreams,” Marshall Curry’s absorbing portrait of young go-kart racers who compete for the World Karting Association championship and future NASCAR glory (Curry directed the fabulous 2005 documentary “Street Fight,” about Cory Booker’s first mayoral campaign in Newark); “My Neighbor, My Killer,” Anne Aghion’s deeply moving account of Rwandans coming to terms with the ethnic slaughter of 1994 and its aftermath; “Trimpin: The Sound of Invention,” Peter Esmonde’s portrait of the eccentric eponymous Seattle-based sound installation artist; and “Still Bill,” Alex Vlack and Damani Baker’s captivating portrait of legendary R&B singer Bill Withers. (Withers appears in another terrific Silverdocs film: “Soul Power,” about the concert that preceded Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s historic face-off in Zaire in 1974.)

High on our want-to-see list: Joe Berlinger’s “Crude,” about oil companies, environmentalists and indigenous tribes in Ecuador locked in battle over ecological remediation; “Afghan Star,” about Kabul’s version of “American Idol”; and “The Horse Boy,” about a couple taking their autistic son on a trip through Mongolia.