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MAY 22-28

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The British took much from Ireland, but left behind something that has proved very helpful to Irish literature and, now, Irish film: their language. That’s why Ireland’s fledgling cinema is well-known in the subtitle-phobic United States and this retrospective includes four films that enjoyed wide American release: Paddy Breathnach’s raucous gangster farce I Went Down (at 8:30 p.m. Monday, May 22); Neil Jordan’s surrealistic account of a tormented childhood, The Butcher Boy (at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, May 24); Mike Newell’s Into the West (pictured, at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, May 27), a mystical tale of two boys who flee a Dublin slum; and John Huston’s elegant adaptation of Joyce’s “The Dead” (at 6:15 p.m. Sunday, May 28). The series also introduces two new films, Declan Lowney’s Wild About Harry, with Brendan Gleeson as a talk show host who develops amnesia during his divorce (at 9 p.m. Saturday, May 27), and Nora, Pat Murphy’s biopic about Nora and James Joyce (at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 28). Other highlights include Cathal Black’s Korea, in which a feud is stoked by one man’s hostility over another man’s compensation for a son killed in the Korean War (at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 26, and 4:45 p.m. Sunday, May 28); David Keating’s The Last of the High Kings, a coming-of-age tale starring Gabriel Byrne and Christina Ricci (at 8:15 p.m. Friday, May 26); and a program of avant-garde shorts by No Waver Vivienne Dick (at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 24). At the American Film Institute’s National Film Theater, in the Kennedy Center’s Hall of States. $7.50. (202) 785-4600. (Mark Jenkins)