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AFI SIVERDOCS FILM FESTIVAL-Day 4

Thursday June 19, 2008

A fairly light day for me at the fest as I took in one film, as well as a tribute to one of the most famous filmmakers on the planet. I started it off with another medical themed documentary for the 3rd day in a row. The east coast premiere of "My Mother's Garden" (***) is another brave family-made work where filmmaker Cynthia Lester excruciatingly documents her mother who suffers from "hoarders" disease. We observe the obsessive compulsive nature of Eugenia Lester's illness as her children feverishly work to clean-up her property and treat her illness. Her situation had grown so out of control that she was in danger of legally losing her home-where entrance through the windows was virtually the only way to get inside. Cynthia enlists the aid of her 2 brothers as they try and find a way to help their mom live a more constructive and healthy life-even though her illness had negatively affected each of them as they grew up in this cluttered environment. The film points out that Eugenia's illness is shared by millions in this country-many of which cannot afford the medications necessary to help treat the condition. It's a scary look into a condition that is rarely seen in such an intimate manner.

Each year, Silverdocs celebrates a documentary filmmaker by offering a symposium named in honor of the late great documentary filmmaker, Charles Guggenheim. This year's recipient is Spike Lee. After a wonderful montage of Lee's documentary work throughout the years, we are treated to an intimate conversation between himself and moderator Lisa Kennedy, film critic of The Denver Post. His body of work in the documentary field is approaching his narrative achievements as he revealed that he will be releasing in September a documentary about a day in the life of Kobe Bryant. Also, his documentary about Michael Jordan covering his last year in Chicago should be ready for Cannes next year. During the interview, he interestingly stated that he would love to see a documentary made about Martin Luther King, but he didn't feel that he would be adequate to film it. The discussion was followed by an extended promo of his upcoming war epic, "Miracle At St. Anna", the story of four black American soldiers who are members of the US Army as part of the all-black 92nd "Buffalo Soldier" Division stationed in Tuscany, Italy during World War II. Following the award ceremony, another tremendous reception was held across the street at The Discovery Channel building