- First up: Our City Film Festival
No one really knows for sure how many film festivals there are in the D.C. area — and for good reason. For starters, how does one define "D.C. area"? And what constitutes a "festival"? The 2011 regional guide produced jointly by the D.C. Film Alliance, D.C. film office, and D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities names 68 festivals, though some are really just film series and others — like West Virginia's Appalachian Film Festival, at least a six-hour drive from here — are almost in another time zone. Someone needs to narrow these down to a manageable number, and I've nominated myself for the task.
Here, then, are the most accessible and potentially interesting film festivals in the Washington metropolitan area in the Year of our Divided Congress, 2011.
When: February 12-13
Where: Goethe-Institut, D.C.
What: Run by Yachad, a local non-profit, the Our City Film Festival claims to be "the only festival that showcases DC-focused films," by which they must mean "exclusively." In any case, it's a welcome antidote to the many international film festivals — see below — which accept films from anywhere, even Canada.
When: March 3-13
What: The DCIFF calls itself "an award-winning annual film festival showcasing independent films from around the world." A festival that wins awards for handing out awards? How meta. They also love to rawk, as evidenced by last year's ad:
When: March 15-27
What: The term "environmental" is applied broadly at this massive festival, which is one of the best of its kind in the country.
When: April 7-17
What: This festival "brings the finest in contemporary world cinema to the nation's capital." It also can't seem to decide on a name.
When: "probably around May"
What: Teams have 48 hours to make a film. You probably know someone who's participating and needs your help. Of course, you can also pretend you're busy and just watch the finished project when it screens the following week.
What: Movies for tough guys and gals, including those who are now allowed both to ask and tell. According to Stephen Baldwin in the clip below, "It's gnarly!"
When: May 3-8
What: So wonky it was sponsored by Politico last year.
When: June 10-12
Where: The DMV, yo!
What: Nudity. Okay, not really. But maybe.
When: June 20-26
Where: AFI Silver Theatre
What: Probably the best documentary festival in the country.
Where: Arlington, Va.
What: Lots of incidents involving banana peels.
Where: National Geographic Society, D.C.
When: Sept. 8-15
What: One of the best festivals devoted to short films in the U.S. Also, Horatio Sanz!
When: September or October
What: Even doll mysteries narrated by John Waters (last year):
What: Kinda self-explanatory, no? No?
What: For people who know that not all zombies are created equal.
What: Focuses not on Asian films, but rather the Asian-American experience.
What: New films from the Old Country, such as:
What: A much more varied festival than you might imagine.