Written by Lou Cannon, Feature Writer for The Current Newspapers.
Filmfest DC is celebrating its 30th anniversary this spring, making it the oldest international film festival in Washington, D.C. This film festival brings the best of world cinema—chosen by juries worldwide and selected by Filmfest DC for their emphasis on underserved communities and rarely-heard stories—to the nation’s capital. The festival runs April 14-24, screening 75 films from 35 countries, many of which cannot be seen anywhere else, not even on Netflix.
This year, films are screening at AMC Mazza Gallerie and Landmark E Street Cinema, with a special screening taking place at the Embassy of France. Information is available on the web.
Founder and Director Tony Gittens and Deputy Director Shirin Ghareeb were available for comment recently at the Filmfest DC office in the University of the District of Columbia (UDC).
Before he officially founded Filmfest DC, Gittens was Professor of Media Services at UDC. He and some friends decided to organize a series of films from developing nations and underserved cultures. It was even more of a success than they hoped, which sparked in Gittens the dream of creating an international film festival in Washington.
“It took two years of work to figure out how to make it a festival,” said Gittens. “We screened films you couldn’t see otherwise, and in venues you wouldn’t be otherwise – we went into prisons, schools and nursing homes.”
Filmfest DC launched in 1986 and welcomed 5,000 film-lovers its first year. Now, Filmfest DC hosts about 16,000 patrons each year. To keep the festival vibrant and the moviegoers coming back for more, Gittens and Ghareeb make a yearly pilgrimage around the international film festival circuit to discover the best of world cinema.
“It all starts in May with Cannes, and then we go to Toronto in September and a few others,” said Gittens. “Shirin and I don’t just program films to our taste; we need to see the audience’s reaction. We hear the laughter, we get excited, and we want to share the experience with people.”
Gittens, Ghareeb and the programming committee choose 75 films from a list of 300 to 350 for the final slate, arranging them into series: World View (best of world cinema), Justice Matters (themes of social justice), Trust No One (thrillers), The Lighter Side (comedies), Rhythm On & Off Screen (global music), Shorts (short films), and Cine Cubano, a new and timely series of Cuban film.
Some of the highlights of this year’s festival include: the anticipated opening night feature starring Kate Winslet, The Dressmaker; the world premiere of The Sweet Smell of Spring, a Tunisian comedy; City of Trees, a documentary about D.C.’s own Oxon Hill Park; Tanna, an Australian love story; Roaring Abyss, a film featuring Ethiopian music; Angry Indian Goddess, a social drama focusing on women’s issues in India; My Internship in Canada, a timely political satire; Nahid, a family drama from Iran; Argentina, an exploration of Argentina’s gorgeous traditional dance and music scene; and Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr, a documentary about Guantanamo Bay.
“Our audience is loyal, and they care. They are very thoughtful. They want to discuss the film in the lobby afterward,” said Gittens. To cater to this involved audience and add extra richness to the Filmfest DC experience, the committee schedules special events in tandem with the many of the films, such as director appearances, question-and-answer sessions, discussion panels, Skype interviews, receptions, and dance performances before films.
Gittens said, “We have a strong slate again this year and we keep adapting. We’re still fresh and looking forward to the next 30 years.”
Yes, it's true. Bangkok Joe's offiicially reopens Thursday, April 7.
Chef Aulie Bunyarataphan and proprietor Mel Oursinsiri, the husband and wife team behind a portfolio of the region's groundbreaking Thai restaurants, is bringing Bangkok Joe's back to the Georgetown Waterfront.
Offering traditional Thai cuisine with a modern American twist, Chef Aulie’s innovative dishes incorporate the exotic tastes and aromas of the Bangkok street food of her childhood along with the Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and even French flavors she picked up as a result of her culinary experiences in the United States.
The restaurant returns with a new menu and dishes that incorporate more traditional Thai flavors to appeal to diners' expanding palates and openness to trying authentic global cuisines.
What's new? The stand-alone Dumpling Bar and a dramatic red ceiling with gold embellishments wraps down from above to make it the heartbeat of the restaurant and a central focal point.
Inspired by the temple Aulie’s family built three centuries ago, the ceiling is reminiscent of the canvas-like designs found on temple ceilings throughout Thailand.The Dumpling Bar features an expanded menu with 20 of Aulies unique creations paired with her house-made sauces.
When Bangkok Joe’s opened in 2003, it was home to the first dumpling bar in the Nation’s Capital. The restaurant was originally open from 2003-2014. Most recently, the spot was home to Mama Rouge.
Bangkok Joe's is located at Washington Harbour (3000 K Street) in Georgetown. Tel: 202.333.4422
GEORGETOWN CONCERT SERIES
Sunday, April 3, 2016 at 5 pm
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Georgetown Parish
3240 O Street NW
Washington, DC 20007
Tickets: $40. each
Free parking at the Hyde Addison School parking lot directly across from the church on O St.
Reception follows in Blake Hall.
For further information: www.stjohnsgeorgetown.org 202.338.1796