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DEC. 3-12

One of the early Hollywood genres that vanished as the world became smaller is the ethnographic adventure epic. Probably the best-known of these is Nanook of the North, which turned the everyday life of an Inuit family into a man-against-nature drama and provided the model for such subsequent films as Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life. Made in 1924 by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, it follows Iran’s nomadic Bakhtiari tribe across mountains and rushing rivers in its annual quest for new grazing grounds for its cattle. This series presents both Grass (pictured, at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10) and People of the Wind (at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12), the more rigorously anthropological documentary that Anthony Howarth made 52 years later about the same tribe. The third film in the series is Once Upon a Time, Cinema (at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5), one of Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s several meditations on the role of film in his home country. Based loosely on tales from Iran’s early film industry, the movie is about a shah who, after seeing his first film, not only forgets his objections to cinema, but even decides to become an actor. At the Freer Gallery of Art’s Meyer Auditorium, 12th and Jefferson Drive SW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Mark Jenkins)