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DOC SHOT: Sky Sitney

By Tamara Krinsky

The DOC SHOT Q&A is an exclusive online feature by Documentary magazine associate editor Tamara Krinsky. Through this mix of questions (some serious, some sassy), each DOC SHOT provides a glimpse into the work and lives of those creating and supporting nonfiction film.

Sky Sitney
Artistic Director, SILVERDOCS
SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival takes place June 15-22, 2009.


What company or organization do you work for/with and what is your job title? Please describe your gig in a couple of sentences.  
I am the Artistic Director of SILVERDOCS. I oversee the artistic direction, programming and staff of the Festival.

For you, what makes a film stand out from the masses?
Artistic excellence, unique access, bold storytelling, a strong, personal perspective.

How do you stay fresh when sifting through piles and piles of films during the submission process or while OD’ing on movies at festivals?
Can I take the fifth, please?

Describe the biggest challenge in your work.

Having to turn down great films, navigating the ever-evolving nature of the business, balancing competing priorities and facing hard deadlines—fortunately, I have a great team helping to make this easier.

What would surprise people the most about your job or the way you execute it?
Perhaps the sheer number of films that I see a year – 600 is a modest estimate.  


What's the first film you remember seeing as a child?

Growing up in an avant-garde film family, and having a theatre – Anthology Film Archives – as my playhouse, I distinctly recall being mesmerized by the phallus in James Broughton’s Hermes Bird.

Tell us about a film that affected your profoundly, or changed or inspired your professional life.
See above. And also anything by Jarmusch, Antonioni, Wiseman and Maysles.

When you are feeling creatively stumped or frustrated by the grind of the business, what do you do to get the enthusiasm flowing again?
I am officially opening a "call for entries" for a solution to that problem!

Where is your favorite place to watch movies?
The beautiful historic AFI Silver Theatre known as one of the best exhibition spaces in the United States…and I’m not just saying that. Ask our filmmakers.

What about your career path has surprised you the most?
That as a native, die-hard New Yorker, I ended up in Washington, DC – and I grew to love it more than I had imagined.


Daily essential read (online or off)?
The industry trades, The New York Times and the stitch ‘n bitch forum.

What's on your TIVO or iPod right now?
HBO’s In Treatment.

What do you want more of in your life?
I just wish my people would feed and water me more frequently.

What do you want less of in your life?
In all seriousness, I don’t need less or more of anything. It’s a privilege to run this festival and engage with my wonderful colleagues and the documentary community – that’s the most energizing and inspirational gift of all.

If you could add an extra hour to every day, how would you spend it?
I’d see more of my fiancée, get an occasional massage, take a walk, and indulge in a leisurely dinner with friends.

What do you want for your birthday?

A pony.