Three categories steal the screen at film festival

The unlikely pairings of the Caribbean, social justice and comedy will combine Thursday as part of Filmfest DC.

More than 80 films, including two shorts programs and an array of children’s works, will appear on screens from April 12 through the 22 across the District as the annual film festival provides a platform for a local audience to see both American and foreign films.

The showings will be accompanied by interview-style discussions with a selection of the films’ directors.

“Each year the Washington, D.C. International Film Festival presents a unique, quality and diverse selection of new international films in the Washington, D.C. area. All film selections for the festival are based on a number of merits, but first and foremost we look at artistic quality,” Shirin Ghareeb, deputy director of the festival said.

Ghareeb said festival organizers chose the categories to pinpoint qualities that could unite a diverse group of work. The process of choosing the more than 80 films began nearly a year ago.

Ghareeb worked with fellow programming committee members, travelling to nearly a half dozen festivals, following up with distributors and directors, researching which films in the international market they would like to include and checking in on directors who have been featured in previous years to see if they have any potential film submissions.

“That’s of course the best way to take a look at a film, to go to other festivals to sit in the theater, watch it on a big screen and gauge the audience reaction,” Ghareeb said.

Ghareeb has been working for the festival since 1990 and says her team has made a concerted effort to keep the festival small, noting there were 23,000 people in attendance last year, a number she says has stayed consistent over the past few years.

Throughout the tedious process, the most exciting part for those involved is the festival itself.

“I can’t wait to see as many movies as possible, but what I’m really excited about is seeing how all the work that myself and everyone else has done suddenly comes together as a great big event for everyone to enjoy,” sophomore and film intern Maya Lidell said.

Ghareeb said the selection of Caribbean films was decided after seeing several strong works focusing on island life, something she says is unusual and unique.

A third category of films, “Justice Matters,” depicts issues of social justice and conflict. This is the third year the festival has featured this genre, finding it to be a popular category in years past.

“The Lighter Side” includes films like “Cousinhood” by Spanish director Daniel Sánchez Arévalo, telling the story of Diego, a handsome young man who is abandoned by his fiancée a few days before his wedding. His two best friends, Julian and José Miguel, take him on road trip to a seaside town in an attempt to reconnect him with his first love, a now newly single mom.

Filmfest DC runs from April 12 though the 22 at the Avalon Theatre, Embassy of France, Goethe-Institut Washington, Landmark’s E Street Cinema, National Gallery of Art, Naval Heritage Center and Regal Cinemas Gallery Place. Tickets are $11, unless otherwise noted.

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