It's going to be a good, long stretch of for cinephiles in Washington, with one of the premier documentary film festivals in the world, AFI Docs presented by Audi, expanding its reach into the District from its traditional Silver Spring, Md., home with a bevy of political, thought-provoking and entertaining nonfiction flicks.
Before the festival (previously known as Silver Docs) starts lighting up our minds June 19, the pair behind a different kind of flick will be honored: the producers of the immortal political striver Tracy Flick, she of "Election" celluloid glory.
On June 17, producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa will be honored by the movie group CINE with the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition to Alexander Payne's 1999 "Election," the duo has also collaborated on such movies as "Little Miss Sunshine," "Cold Mountain," "Ruby Sparks," "I Ain't in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm," "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" and Payne's forthcoming "Nebraska."
"We haven't had a lifetime," Yerxa quipped, adding that, despite the fact the team isn't anywhere near done making movies, they "were delighted, happy and perplexed," with the award.
Berger added: "We weren't 100 percent sure we were ready for it. ... We're still chugging along with our careers."
The two will accept the award at CINE's 2013 gala at the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Lansburgh Theatre (450 Seventh St. NW), with a reception starting at 6 p.m. and the awards ceremony following.
On June 19, AFI Docs kicks off with its opening night film, "Letters to Jackie," at the Newseum's Annenberg Theater (555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW) at 7:30 p.m. It's the theatrical premiere of Bill Couturié's film about the letters of condolence Jackie Kennedy received from the public after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Some of the biggest actors in the business — Mark Ruffalo, Laura Linney, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum — read the letters.
The gala screening the next evening of "Herblock — The Black & The White" by Michael Stevens, also gets a screening at the Newseum at 7:30 p.m.
Immigration is dominating the congressional agenda these days, so the June 21 8 p.m. screening at the National Portrait Gallery (Eighth and F streets NW) of "Documented" by former Washington Post writer Jose Antonio Vargas, comes at a good time. The film examines Vargas' own story as an undocumented immigrant in the United States.
Things conclude June 22 with AJ Schnack's "Caucus" (8 p.m. at the Portrait Gallery), an in-depth look at the 2012 election season's Iowa Republican caucuses. All the gang's in the movie: Mitt Romney, ex-Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and the rest! You haven't lived until you've seen presidential candidates prostrate themselves over a pork chop on a stick to woo Iowans.
That's just a sampling of the slate of films showing at the AFI Silver (8633 Colesville Road) in Silver Spring and the D.C. locations, all clustered around downtown. There are also chilling selections such as "The Act of Killing," about Indonesia's death squads, as well as "Our Nixon," which features intimate film gathered from Richard Nixon's closest advisers.