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TO APRIL 27
India is often cited as having the world’s largest film industry, but what it actually has is a formidable array of regional film industries. The musicals made in Bombay and Madras are commercially dominant, but India’s movies come in many different styles and in more than a dozen languages. Director Adoor Gopalakrishnan is based in Kerala, and he generally sets his serious-minded dramas in that South Indian state, the first place in the world to elect a Communist government. Kerala’s turbulent politics are reflected in the nine-film retrospective’s opener, 1995’s The Man of the Story (at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 7). This novelistic film covers some 40 years in the life of a Keralan whose ideological travails range from being labeled a “petit bourgeois” by his elementary-school teacher in the ’40s to being arrested and tortured for supporting a Maoist insurgency against the Marxist regime in the ’60s. More visceral and less historically specific, 1993’s The Servile (pictured, at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 9) follows the relationship of an abject peasant and his master, a local land baron who assumes he can rape and murder with impunity. Gopalakrishnan is scheduled to appear at the last three screenings: 1990’s Walls (at 7 p.m. Friday, April 25), derived from a noted Keralan author’s prison writings; 1981’s The Rat Trap (at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26), in which the heir of a formerly aristocratic family can’t adjust to diminished circumstances; and 2002’s Shadow Kill (at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 27), the tale of a guilt-wracked executioner. The series runs to Sunday, April 27, at the Freer Gallery of Art’s Meyer Auditorium, 12th and Jefferson Drive SW. Free. (202) 357-2700; see Showtimes for details. (Mark Jenkins)