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It’s still more than seven months away, but the 2011 edition of Silverdocs is getting underway this week as the festival’s planners start looking at prospective entries. The festival, hosted by the American Film Institute and the Discovery Channel, is taking submissions through next March 11, but with recent years repeatedly bringing nearly 2,000 applicants for roughly 120 spots, it never hurts to get your movie in early.

Silverdocs publicist Jody Arlington says that while it’s far too early to predict what next year’s slate will look like, festival planners are hoping to make 2011 a bit more “fun” than this year’s lineup, which was heavy on war, educational dysfunction, more war and Nordic angst. But don’t worry. They’re not planning on skimping out on the heavy stuff.

“It’s important to us to strike a balance between crowd-pleasers and more serious documentaries that are grappling with the most intractable issues of our time,” Arlington said. “Right now it’s about finding out what’s going on in the film community and what’s going on artistically. A lot of what the festival become emerges from where the films are going.”

The early deadline is Jan. 7, late deadline is March 4 and real stragglers have until March 11. So open up Final Cut Studio, mix your soundtrack and wrap your documentary before it’s too late.

Correction: A previous version of this post stated Silverdocs is sponsored by Discovery Communications. It is hosted by the Discovery Channel. The number of films accepted has also been revised.