WASHINGTON -- The American Film Institute isn't shying away from hot topics this year at its annual Silverdocs film festival. The festival, sponsored by AFI and the Discovery Channel, which is becoming one of the premier showcases for documentary films, is tackling threats to free speech in this year's showcase. Included in the festival's 89 films representing 43 countries are 12 world, nine North American, four U.S. and 19 East Coast premieres are: Sweet Honey in the Rock: Raise Your Voice
, about the Washington-based, black female a cappella ensemble's unwavering message of social change; The Comedians of Comedy
, directed by Michael Blieden; The Aristocrats
, directed by Paul Provenza; and Off to War
, which follows a small-town Arkansas National Guard unit as they are called to service in Iraq. Controversial films like that are just fine with actor, director, producer Richard Dreyfuss
, who will be involved in a variety of talks and discussions about documentary filmmaking at this year's festival. To Dreyfuss, documentary filmmakers are one of the last lines of defense for freedom of expression at a time when it is under attack.