D.C. Film Festivals

They may not have the clout of Sundance or the star power of Cannes but D.C. has a slate of interesting film festivals lined up for the next few months.

D.C. Shorts Film Festival
At 5” tall, I’ve always been a firm believer that good things can come in small packages. Let’s face it, in these days of 140 character tweets, not everyone has the attention span to sit through the 234 minutes of Gone with the Wind. For those people, D.C. Shorts Film Festival offers 100 films, short and sweet, from 16 countries, including two films from France. Now in its 6th year, the festival is expending to two venues: E Street Theater and the US Navy Memorial’s Burke Theater. Films are shown in a showcase format: one $12 admission seating includes a viewing of ten or so short films. The D.C. Shorts Film Festival runs from September 10th to 17th.

D.C. Arabian Sights Film Festival
From October 9 to 18, the 14th Annual D.C. Arabian Sights Film Festival will offer a diverse selection of the newest, most provocative, and inspiring films from today’s Arab world. Numerous filmmakers from Algeria, Syria or Morocco will be present to showcase their films at screenings at the Landmark’s E Street Cinema and The National Geographic Society. Of interest (at least to me!) is Française a touching French movie about longing for your childhood and the country where you grew up featuring César Award-winner Hafsia Herzi. It will be shown at the Landmark Theater Oct. 10th and 11th.

D.C. APA Film Festival
Celebrating the creative output from Asian Pacific American communities, the APA film festival will open on October 1st with a free screening of 9500 LIBERTY, a documentary examining the political and socio-economic impact of Prince William County’s battle over immigration. The festival will continue until October 10 at various locations including the Smithsonian Institution‘s Freer & Sackler Galleries, the Burke Theatre of the U.S. Navy Memorial, and the Landmark’s E Street Cinema. It will showcase 18 feature length films, over 40 short films, and host special events including industry receptions and panels, educational workshops, and a retrospective sample of films from the past ten years of Asian Pacific American independent cinema.

D.C. Labor FilmFest
This film festival is an ode to working class and a labor of love for its director Chris Garlock who helped launch the first festival in 2001, along with his father and Anthony Mazzocchi. The festival shows all genres of films, from documentaries to romantic comedies, as long as they capture what it is like to be a worker. The D.C. Labor FilmFest is set for October 13–19 with the The American Film Institute in Silver Spring as its main venue but also a number of free noontime screenings at the AFL-CIO, Busboys & Poets on 14th street, the JCC and labor union headquarters. It will open on the 13th with Manufactured Landscapes, Jennifer Baichwal’s great documentary on the work of Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky. The screening will coincide with the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s new exhibit of Burtynsky’s photographs. It will also feature Cannes’ 2008 Un Certain Regard winner The Tokyo Sonata on October 17th & 19th.

Reel Affirmations
Reel Affirmation was born 19 years ago out of a desire to bring a positive message about being gay and lesbian to the public through films. This year, Reel Affirmations has become a Resident Program of the Shakespeare Theatre Company, meaning that it will screen its films at D.C.’s newest performing arts venue, the Harman Center for the Arts. Great venue! More than 100 films will be shown over a 10-day period, punctuated with live events including filmmaker panels, receptions and an Opening Night Gala at the Harman Center for the Arts.

Kicking and Screening
After a successful run in New York City, Kicking and Screening is the latest transfer to the team of D.C. film festivals. Entirely devoted to films and events about “the beautiful game,” this film festival is showing just four films between October 15th and 18th, starting at the French Embassy with a screening of the excellent documentary Les Yeux Dans Les Bleus which follows the victorious French team during the 1998 World Cup. Score!

Washington Jewish Film Festival
Rounding up the fall film festival season is the Washington Jewish Film Festival, an annual event that promotes the preservation of Jewish culture by showing films with Jewish themes and encouraging a dialogue about a variety of issues. The film festival, sponsored by the Washington, DC Jewish Community Center’s Morris Cafritz Center for the Arts, is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year and will feature 46 films, documentaries and shorts from 15 countries. Each screening will be followed by a discussion with filmmakers, actors and scholars. The list of films has yet to be announced but the festival is slated for December 3-13, 2009.

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