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JAN. 14-FEB. 27

The Iranian cinema is one of the wonders of the contemporary film world, in large part because of the sophisticated, poetically self-conscious work of Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Still, it has limitations that make little sense to Westerners, notably because of the extreme restrictions Iranian society puts on women. So it’s significant that the Freer’s latest Iranian film overview emphasizes movies with female protagonists, and includes two films by feminist director Tahmineh Milani. Her Legend of a Sigh (at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6) is about a writer whose aesthetic crisis leads to assuming five different identities, while Two Women (at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13) contrasts the lives of two friends 15 years after they were fellow students during the Islamic Revolution. Veteran director Dariush Mehrjui’s 1992 The Lady (at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16) adapts Luis Bunuel’s Viridiana, an allegory about a woman who earnestly turns to good works after her husband leaves her, and Makhmalbaf’s 1998 The Silence (at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27) is the lyrical tale of a blind boy in a small Tajikistan town. The only one of the five that’s been seen before in Washington is Jafar Panahi’s dazzling The Mirror (at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30), in which a little girl trying to get home from school suddenly takes a Brechtian turn. At the Freer Gallery of Art’s Meyer Auditorium, 12th Street and Independence Avenue SW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Mark Jenkins)