We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
This short series comprises all the existing films made by Bertholt Brecht and his associates, who worked in Berlin, Hollywood, and, ultimately, East Germany in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. Brecht’s focus was theater, and his plays engaged political ideas in an unnaturalistic mode that attempted to make viewers conscious of theatrical artifice. The latter technique, which can still perplex and even rankle mainstream audiences, influenced such major filmmakers as Douglas Sirk, Jean-Luc Godard, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The program features three films adapted directly from some of Brecht’s best-known plays, The Threepenny Opera (Sunday, July 5, at 5:30 p.m.), The Mother (July 11 at 4 p.m.), and Mother Courage and Her Children (July 12 at 4 p.m., pictured), the last filmed by Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble after the playwright’s death. Also included is Katzgraben, a non-Brecht script produced by the Ensemble in response to political pressure by the East German government (July 11 at 2:25 p.m.). Perhaps the most intriguing entry is Syberberg Films Brecht, scenes from three Brecht plays shot by a teenage Hans-JÅrgen Syberberg (Hitler: A Film From Germany) in 1953 and edited with new commentary in 1993 (July 11 at 12:30 p.m.). At the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th & Constitution Ave. NW. Free. (202) 737-4215. (Mark Jenkins)