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TO JULY 23
Americans who’ve been fed a steady diet of sci-fi may think they know what space travel is like, but they’ve never seen anything resembling Out of the Present, which gets its Washington premiere this week. Directed from Soviet Mission Control by Romanian-born German filmmaker Andrei Ujica but largely shot in space by the cosmonauts themselves, this documentary balances the quotidian details of life on the funky, somewhat run-down space station MIR with literally starstruck views of the cosmos. (The director of photography was Vadim Yusov, who worked on Tarkovsky’s space odyssey Solaris.) The narrative hook is that Sergei Krikalev enters space a Soviet and returns a Russian: In a development Ujica renders with about 10 minutes of impressionistic cinema verite footage, the Soviet Union falls apart while Krikalev hangs on for almost a year in outer space (a world record). But Out of the Present is less interested in an earthly narrative context than in its place in the firmament: The film lasts 92 minutes, the same time it takes MIR to circle the earth. At 7:15 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday, and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Kennedy Center’s American Film Institute Theater. $6.50. (202) 828-4090. (Mark Jenkins)