by Andy Lauer

Stories of starvation, persecution, escape from the world’s worst human rights violator, and a surprising inside look at an iconic cult are among the topics on display in this year’s selection of films at the upcoming DocuWeeks showcase in NYC and LA.

Screening in Los Angeles at the the ArcLight Hollywood and at New York City’s IFC Center July 31st through August 20th, 2009, IDA’s 13th Annual DocuWeeks Theatrical Documentary Showcase will present 18 feature films and 10 short films. The series showcases an international selection of documentary films qualifying for Oscar consideration.

“We have expanded our DocuWeeks showcase to give filmmakers an opportunity to reach a larger audience as they qualify for Oscar consideration,” said IDA Executive Director Michael Lumpkin in a statement. “This year’s program is more international in scope with films from Nepal, Zambia, Russia, Australia and Norway.”

Since its inception in 1997, the showcase has qualified over 133 short and feature length films yielding 16 nominations and 7 Academy Award winners. Some of the documentaries included in past DocuWeeks programs include Oscar winners “Smile Pinki” (2008), “Taxi To The Dark Side” (2007) and “The Blood of Yingzhou District” (2006), as well as Oscar nominees “The Betrayal” (2008), “War/Dance” (2007), “Salim Baba” (2007) and “Sari’s Mother” (2007).

Features appearing in this year’s DocuWeeks Theatrical Documentary Showcase are: “DIRT! The Movie,” “Garbage Dreams,” “Hunting Down Memory,” “Kimjongilia,” “Living In Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders,” “Racing Dreams,” “Rock Prophecies,” “Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie,” “The Sari Soldiers,” “Mugabe and the White African,” “Severe Clear,” “Smile ‘Til It Hurts: The Up With People Story,” “Split Estate,” “Soundtrack For A Revolution,” “Sunrise/Sunset Dalai Lama XIV,” “Sweet Crude,” “Tapped” and “Yes Madam, Sir.”

DocuWeeks will also present 10 documentary short films including: “12 notes down,” “Aliens Among Us,” “Crossing Midnight,” “Far From Gone,” “Ingelore,” “Rabbit à la Berlin,” “point of entry,” “Salt,” “The Solitary Life of Cranes” and “Women Rebels.”

For more information about the films screening at the 2009 DocuWeeks Showcase, visit the International Documentary Association’s website website.