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28

FRIDAY

Satyajit Ray was rarely didactically political, but the great Bengali filmmaker did explore larger issues through his character-driven tales. In 1973’s Distant Thunder, Ray confronted one of India’s biggest dilemmas: caste. Set during a 1942 famine caused by the diversion of food to the military, the film centers on a Brahmin, a person belonging to the highest caste, whose members usually serve in the detached vocation of teacher or priest. As subtly portrayed by Soumitra Chatterjee, the young Brahmin is still learning his traditional role when he comes to realize that desperate times require some flexibility. His final achievement is an act of simple decency that is nonetheless, in its Indian context, revolutionary. The film screens at 7 p.m. at the Library of Congress’ Pickford Theater, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free. For reservations call (202) 707-5677. (Mark Jenkins)