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The Women in Film & Video International Festival, the oldest U.S. festival of films by women, returns for a mere nine-day stretch this year, and it’s bigger than ever. The films screen in a dozen sessions, and directors scheduled to be on hand to discuss their films include: renowned Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman, who will present a documentary short as well as a fiction feature (Oct. 19 at 4 p.m., National Gallery of Art); Hungarian filmmaker Livia Gyarmathy of Escape (Oct. 21 at 7 p.m., Key Theater); local talents such as Ariadne Kimberly, with her well-regarded feature The Woman in the Moon (Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m., Foundry), and Laurie Kahn-Leavitt, writer-producer of the historical drama A Midwife’s Tale (Oct. 23 at 6 & 8:30 p.m., National Museum of Women in the Arts); and a program of eight international shorts, including Home Away From Home (pictured, Oct. 26. at 1 p.m., American Film Institute). The festival kicks off in grand style, with French director Agnes Merlet’s Artemisia, the story of tormented 17th-century painter Artemisia Gentileschi (Oct. 18 at 8 p.m., American Film Institute), after which the Watergate Hotel opens its doors for an opening-night gala. At area theaters; see Showtimes for a complete schedule. (Arion Berger)