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No one can accuse the organizers of “Heart of a People,” this weekend’s D.C. stop of the annual National Black History Month Film & Discussion Series tour, of failing to put a lot on the table. The jampacked one-day program of documentaries, features, and shorts on the African-American experience touches on everything from civil rights to gang life, abortion to hiphop. The series’ standouts are undoubtedly the docs: Well worth catching is Standing on My Sisters’ Shoulders, which tells the stories of a group of female civil-rights pioneers in Mississippi in the 1950s and ’60s. Mae Bertha Carter, a sharecropper without formal education who enrolled her children in all-white classrooms, gives a gripping interview that helps offset the film’s sometimes heavy-handed narration. The excellent The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till recounts one of the Civil Rights Movement’s defining events—the murder of a 14-year-old boy who whistled at a white woman. Bastards of the Party looks at Los Angeles gang life through eye-opening interviews with gang members, while Say Amen Somebody (pictured) lightens the load by recounting the history of gospel music. As at any film festival, the shorts are a grab bag—from clever social commentary disguised as comedy (Driving While Black: An Instructional Video) to “message” vehicles so leaden they feel like comedy (Latter Rain, an anti-abortion musical short—yes, you read that right). So, too, are the features—from the polished South African Tsotsi (up for an Oscar for best foreign film) to the program’s final offering—the gruesome, misguided Golddigger Killer, a “hip hop horror” flick so bloody it’ll have you running for the door. But hey, at that point, you’ll have sat through about 10 hours of programming—you deserve a break. The festival begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium, 2455 6th Street NW. $10 per session or $20 for an all-day pass. (202) 397-7328. (Mario Correa)