- Metro + iPod = everlasting love.
On its website, the Our City Film Festival bills itself as "the only festival that showcases DC-focused films," which, after much investigation, appears to be true. There are other festivals restricted to local filmmakers, like Rosebud, but the films at the fourth-annual Our City this Sunday are exclusively about D.C. or surrounding communities — from a recap of the Redskins' glory days to a feature film by Thievery Corporation's Eric Hilton, from a doc about a black high school rugby team to, somewhat oddly, the season two premiere of DC Cupcakes. "We can't ignore the fact there are reality shows in D.C., and we're happy to have them because they put our city on the screen," says festival founder and director Kendra Rubinfeld, who's also the programming director for Yachad, which runs festival. The DC Cupcakes premiere is an anomaly; that episode's production costs probably exceeded that of all the other films combined. "We want to maintain our grassroots feeling," Rubinfeld says. "The bigger we get, great ... but this is a local film festival where you can come in curious, and you leave excited about where you live."
Here's a roundup of those films, all of which are screening at the Goethe-Institut and include Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. (There's also a party on Saturday night at R.F.D., featuring Christylez Bacon.)
I. Docs In Progress [11 a.m. – 1 p.m.]
She's a Sensei
A profile of Carol Middleton, a seventh-degree taekwondo black belt and founder of the DC Self-Defense Karate Association.
Letting in the Jungle
Named after a Rudyard Kipling short story (I presume), this documentary follows James Graham of Anacostia as he explores wildlife in our own, concrete backyards.
II. Our Docs [1:15 – 2:45 p.m.]
Lance Kramer's film, shot over three months, documents the creation of the North Columbia Heights Green. Kramer, who runs Meridian Hill Pictures with his brother Brandon, stumbled upon the idea after running into the president of Washington Parks & People, which built the park, in the Josephine Butler Parks Center, where they both have offices. "We didn't initially set out to make this film. It just happended organically," Kramer says. "Telling this story really fit perfectly into the kinds of pieces we do." (His studio makes documentary shorts for non-profit companies.)
Touch, Pause, Engage
D.C.'s Hyde Public Leadership Charter School has the nation's first all-black high school rugby team? Tell me more.
The Washington Redskins: Winning Years
The title alone is sure to make many of you wince. But trust me, director Walter Gottlieb isn't trying to twist the knife after another disappointing season. He just wanted to memorialize the glory years, from 1982-92. Riggins! The Hogs! Williams! Even — and I still can't believe this — Rypien! Gottlieb talks to Joe Theismann, comedian Lewis Black, and others about the team's run of three Super Bowl victories in 10 years. "As the commentators in the film say, that period from '82 to '92 was kind of a magical time where everything just fell into place for the Redskins — the recruiting of players, the coaching, the sort of standout players we had during that time," Gottlieb tells me. "That may never repeat itself." Try not to think about that during the offseason.
Intimidating writer Michael Chabon and others discuss the construction of Columbia, Md., during the social unrest of the 1960s.
III. Our Feature [3:15 – 5:30 p.m.]
Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation co-wrote and directed this film about Sebastian "Seb" James, a courier and DJ who — to quote the official description — "finds himself an unwitting participant in an economic power-play with a Saudi Prince and his attempt to change the currency for oil. As Seb begins to fall for the Prince's daughter and his friends are dragged into the conflict, the powers that control modern-day Babylon — Washington, DC — are exposed, and the US Empire is called into question." Will I gather the courage to watch a screener of this film tonight? The suspense is killing you.
IV: Our Narratives [6:15 – 7:15 p.m.]
We all have those momentary crushes on the Metro. We see someone, we imagine falling in love with them, and then we disembark into the crush of humanity at L'Enfant Plaza. This short film imagines a slightly different scenario: A man and woman bump into each other, iPods get accidentally swapped, and they end up liking each other's music because it's the same music, by local band Daddy Lion.
Raymond and Lina
I've seen this film, which screened recently at Slamdance, and I'm still not sure what it's about. The description tells me Raymond is a 62-year-old vet, and Lina's an 8-year-old girl. Is he stalking her? Is she his granddaughter? My recommendation: Pay attention. I obviously missed something while watching this in bed late last night.
Two roommates who always disagree go looking for something to break the tie. This won't end well for either of them, I'm guessing.
Types in Stereo
Sean John and Brooks Brothers collide in this film that promises to "bring us in and out of the world of stereotypes."
V. Our Finale [7:30 – 9 p.m.]
In case you just can't wait until the Feb. 25 premiere of season two. Or if you want to hang out with the sisters themselves, without having to wait in an infuriating line.