Silverdocs, the AFI-Discovery Channel documentary film festival that for the past 10 years has made the Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring a destination for nonfiction filmmakers and their fans, is losing a sponsor, gaining another one, changing it name and expanding its reach.
The festival, now known as AFI Docs presented by Audi, will have a new presence in Washington, its director, Sky Sitney, announced Thursday. In addition to gala screenings at the Newseum, the festival will present films at other D.C. venues, including the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of American History.
Sitney added that a newly retooled conference — called the Catalyst Sessions — will involve tightly focused panels on issues associated with the films on view and will take place in the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center.
Silverdocs was founded in 2003 as a joint effort of the American Film Institute and Discovery Channel, both of which have been hubs of Silver Spring’s commercial and cultural rejuvenation over the past decade. The changes come on the heels of the festival’s rapid rise as a major stop on the documentary circuit, as well as shifts in Discovery’s corporate focus that resulted in a decline in the channel’s support in recent years.