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Scorsese to be honored for documentaries

Silverdocs fest honoring director for ‘Last Waltz,’ ‘The Blues’ and more
/ Source: The Associated Press

Director Martin Scorsese is best known for dramas such as “Raging Bull,” “Taxi Driver” and “Goodfellas,” but he will be honored next month for his nonfiction films, organizers of the Silverdocs documentary film festival said Thursday.

Scorsese’s documentary work includes the classic rock-concert film “The Last Waltz,” a seven-part musical history called “The Blues,” and “Bob Dylan: No Direction Home.”

Those films go hand in hand with Scorsese’s fictional movies in probing American character and roots, festival director Patricia Finneran said.

“It’s about telling America’s story, but it’s also about telling a story with artistry,” Finneran said. “I think his stories about great musical artists really help us understand our American musical culture and national consensus,” she said at a press preview of the festival schedule.

Scorsese and director Jim Jarmusch will discuss his documentaries and screen a compilation of highlights, followed by an outdoor showing of “The Last Waltz,” which captures the 1976 farewell concert by The Band — Dylan’s one-time backup group.

The Silverdocs festival, in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland, is in its fourth year and rapidly expanding amid a general increase in interest in documentaries.

Sponsored by the American Film Institute and the Discovery Channel, this year’s festival will run from June 13 to 18 and feature 100 films, including 25 world or U.S. premieres.

They include “Addicted to Oil,” by New York Times reporter Thomas Friedman, “The Breast Cancer Diaries,” in which a television journalist turns the camera on herself, and “The Railroad All Stars,” about a group of Guatemalan prostitutes who form a soccer team to raise awareness of their hardships.

Others premieres include “Punks Not Dead,” exploring whether the punk-rock movement and groups such as Green Day have survived commercial pressures, and “The Blood of the Yingzhou District” about an AIDS orphan in China.

The festival will include discussions with film directors and public officials and a keynote speech on the future of documentaries, given by former Vice President Al Gore, whose global-warming film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” opens next week.

The Silverdocs festival made its selections from nearly 1,700 submissions this year and expects a record attendance of more than 20,000.

Its growth has been accompanied by a greater public appetite for documentaries, fueled by mainstream successes including “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “March of the Penguins,” and ”Grizzly Man,” which was showcased at the festival last year.