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OPENS JAN. 6
At least in the United States, the Iranian cinema surge seems to be receding; no films from that country (save for the Iranian-Kurdish Turtles Can Fly, set in Iraq) opened commercially in D.C. in 2005. That increases the significance of the Freer’s annual overview, which this year offers five recent Iranian features and an Iranian-American kids’ cartoon, Babak and Friends—A First Norooz (at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29). The series opens with the latest from Tahmineh Milani, whose films are accessible feminist melodramas. (Some of them play like 1930s Warner Brothers problem dramas with headscarves.) In The Unwanted Woman (at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8), Sima and her family accompany a young widow to her hometown, as Sima worries that her husband and the other woman are becoming too friendly. None of Iran’s best-known directors is represented, but there is one film based on a scenario by one of them, Abbas Kiarostami: Deserted Station (pictured; at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5) is about a photographer and his wife whose car fails near a remote desert town; while he goes looking for an auto part, she’s drafted as a temporary schoolteacher. Among the other selections are Iron Island (at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22), a blackly humorous tale of homeless people who live on an abandoned oil tanker in the Persian Gulf. The series runs from Friday, Jan. 6, through Sunday, Feb. 26, in the Freer Gallery of Art’s Meyer Auditorium, 12th Street and Jefferson Drive SW. (202) 633-4880. (Mark Jenkins)