News / USA

    FilmFest DC Draws Sophisticated Crowd

    Distinctive films appeal to an already discriminating audience

    Unlike major film festivals, FilmFest DC does not focus on film distribution. Its purpose is to entertain and educate an already discriminating audience.
    Unlike major film festivals, FilmFest DC does not focus on film distribution. Its purpose is to entertain and educate an already discriminating audience.

    Multimedia

    Penelope Poulou

    Each year, a film festival in the nation’s capital presents an eclectic collection of films by known and unknown filmmakers from more than 20 countries. Although FilmFest DC is not one of the larger festivals in the United States, it's unique and has its own benefits.

    In his film "Flamenco Flamenco," the acclaimed Spanish director Carlos Saura offers a world of movement, light and sound while exploring  traditional and modern forms of Spanish dance.

    Saura’s film is one of many that screened recently at FilmFest DC.  The Chinese epic drama "Aftershock" was another.  "Aftershock" sweeps across three decades of contemporary Chinese history, including two of the most severe earthquakes in known history. It depicts the pain as well as hard choices people have to make. A mother has to pick which one of her two children - a boy or a girl - should be saved from the rubble.

    The Chinese epic drama 'Aftershock' depicts two of the most severe earthquakes in known history.
    The Chinese epic drama 'Aftershock' depicts two of the most severe earthquakes in known history.

    "Aftershock" is the most successful Chinese film inside China until now, but it just debuted in Washington DC.

    The Filmfest DC celebrated its 25 th anniversary at the district’s historic Lincoln Theater. Few outside of the DC area are familiar with this yearly event. And for a reason.

    Unlike major film festivals, FilmFest DC does not focus on film distribution. Its purpose is to entertain and educate an already discriminating audience, says Shirin Ghareeb, deputy director of the festival.

    "Washington, DC is the capital. It’s very cosmopolitan. We have people from all over the world here. We have the embassies," she says. "So we know that whatever film we bring from wherever we bring it, we’re going to have a very healthy audience."

    Many of the more than 80 films showcased this year - such as Ali Samadi Ahadi’s "The Green Wave" - have already received international praise and could be Oscar contenders next year.

    "The Green Wave" combines animation with documentary footage to chronicle the 2009 Iranian demonstrations and the subsequent government crackdown. Other films, like the British comedy "Drummond Will," poke fun at the absurdity of life.

    Two brothers, after their father’s funeral, inspect his dilapidated estate and discover an old family friend in a closet clutching a bag of money. The more the brothers work to uncover their father’s past, the more things unravel around them.

    Producer Tobias Tobell came to DC for the first time to introduce this film. He says the festival has helped put his movie on the map. "Because the good reviews, the good responses get us into more festivals. And the more festivals we play, the more chance we have of distribution."

    FilmFest DC attracts about 25,000 people each year, mostly locals but also tourists.

    "It does help economically because everybody comes into the city to become patrons of the theater to have an evening out, dine at the restaurants," says Ghareeb. "So I think that it is beneficial in that sense. And, especially in these economic times, it is a form of entertainment that is affordable."

    But ultimately, FilmFest DC is about the films - each of which stands out for its cultural distinctiveness, depth and beauty.

    You May Like

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Mali, a Way Station for Syrians Headed to Europe

    Another door may be closing for Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, this time in Africa

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora