Silverdocs showcased some exciting examples of media for public knowledge and action (and hats off to Sky Sitney for awesome programming). Yoav Shamir's Defamation raised the unmentionable question: is anti-Semitism sometimes used as a way to avoid hard questions about Israeli politics and foreign policy? The screening I attended drew heated—no, overheated—reactions from pro-Zionist and pro-Palestinian speakers. Afterward, Shamir was beseiged by people who wanted to bring the film into their temples, synagogues, and theaters, to open up a long-stifled discussion.
Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein's No Impact Man is an environmental film with a sense of humor (!). They follow around environmental evangelist Colin Beavan, his reluctant wife Michelle and their cheerful toddler as the family tries to live off the grid—13 stories up in a Manhattan apartment. The film is stirring up a lot of discussion about personal and policy approaches to environmental change.
A.J. Schack's Convention, which follows the police, city officials and reporters who made the 2008 Democratic convention happen, is (just as A.J. himself said) an "epic civil servant film." It's astonishing to see a film that makes good government interesting.
Finally, Marshall Curry's Racing Dreams is an all-too-rare look inside white American working-class culture. Curry gets big kudos for a fascinating story about people who rarely make it to the screen without caricature.