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When you think of all the Garden State has to offer—legalized gambling, Bon Jovi, the Eastern Goldfinch—you could be excused for overlooking its influence on international independent cinema. But New Jersey is also the home base of the Black Maria Film and Video Festival, an annual juried showcase of short animated and live-action films from around the world. Named for the West Orange, N.J., studio where Thomas Edison created some of the first moving pictures, Black Maria has often featured films that went on to become Academy Award nominees. And in case you were scratching your head on Oscar night at the list of nominated shorts, Black Maria aims to make experimental films more accessible and thus sends its faves on a cross-country tour of museums, universities, and other art-film hot spots. The festival makes a stop at the Hirshhorn with a two-day program of films, 10 of which screen Friday. The animated pieces range from goofy to poignant: Corell Barker’s Oscar-nominated Strange Invaders (pictured) offers a squiggly Bob and Margaret-meets-The Omen look at parenthood when a childless couple takes in an alien baby, and Marine Chartand’s Black Soul traces the African diaspora through a series of backlit, hand-painted frames that morph characters into rivers and birds. But perhaps most affecting is Virgil Widrich’s Copy Shop (another Oscar nominee), a Kafka-at-the-office tale in which a man is driven mad by hundreds of living copies of himself. Widrich animated 18,000 photocopied digital frames to produce the haunting effect, which may cause you to eye your office Xerox machine with renewed suspicion. Festival director John Columbus introduces the program tonight at 8 p.m. Friday, May 10, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th and Independence Ave. SW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Shauna Miller)