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OCT. 24-OCT. 28
From the days of Heavy Metal Parking Lot, a work of suburban anthropology made with John Heyn, Jeff Krulik has shown a keenly ironic eye for eccentric American subcultures. So he was a logical choice to make Traveling Sideshow: Shocked and Amazed (screening daily; see Showtimes for a compete schedule) for the Travel Channel. The new documentary visits the few surviving examples of the once-commonplace attractions that presented bizarre stunts and live scientific anomalies (many of them faked). Shifts in popular taste and expanded entertainment options have nearly killed the sideshow, but the film finds a new generation of enthusiasts who refuse to abandon such arts as sword-swallowing, glass-eating, and pounding a spike up your nose. More complex in tone is Hitler’s Hat (pictured; screening daily, except Monday, Oct. 27), surely the only film to successfully combine Night and Fog and the Three Stooges. The day after the horrifying task of liberating Dachau, GIs entered Hitler’s Munich apartment. There, a young Jewish soldier, Richard Marowitz, found and claimed the Führer’s top hat, a prop that inspires a quick history of Hitler mockery. Both films will be shown with an assortment of Krulik shorts, and the director will attend all screenings. The series opens at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24, at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $8.50. (301) 495-6700. (Mark Jenkins)