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TO OCT. 3
Perhaps because they’re from a region bristling with current conflict, Latin American films tend to escape into history via the often overly coy style known as magical realism. Or at least that’s the impression given by AFI’s previous Latin American Film Festivals. But this year seems to be different: Only a few of the 31 features were made available for preview, but the summaries suggest a growing engagement with the real world. Among the previewable films are two from Brazil: The Man Who Copied (at 8:50 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24, and at 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, AFI Silver) is an engagingly playful account of a daydreamy copy-shop employee who discovers that his machine duplicates currency quite nicely, while Middle of the World (at 3:40 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, and at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28, AFI Silver) is an edgy road movie about a large family that travels by bicycle in search of a new job for Dad. Colombia’s The First Night (at 8:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, AFI National) follows a woman, her two children, and her adoring brother-in-law to the mean streets of Bogotá after everyone else in their village—the incongruously named Esperanza—is massacred. One of the few period pieces is Chile’s Subterra (pictured, at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, and at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, AFI National), which contrasts the aspirations of abused late-19th-century coal miners and the mine’s wealthy owner. The festival runs to Sunday, Oct. 3, at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, and the Kennedy Center’s AFI National Film Theater. $8.50. (301) 495-6720. (Mark Jenkins)