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MAY 10-12

Since they speak a form of English, Australian filmmakers are easily assimilated by Hollywood; professionally, Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, and Peter Weir are all Americans now. Still, the country has a distinct (if not especially venerable) cinematic tradition, as will be demonstrated by this program of seven films (supplemented by two Australian-wine receptions and a tea). Only one of these movies, Philip Noyce’s very Oz-specific Newsfront (pictured, May 11, 2 p.m.), has played commercially in Washington, and the opening Vacant Possession (May 10, 7:30 p.m.) is a local premiere. The former is the tale of Australian newsreel photographers in the postwar decade; the latter concerns two families—one black, one white—attempting to deal with the past. Also included are Goodbye Paradise (May 11, 5 p.m.), a political-corruption thriller about an ex-cop’s search for a missing politician’s daughter; Return Home (May 12, 6 p.m.), the tale of a middle-aged businessman trying to restore connections after a divorce; and Bingo, Bridesmaids, and Braces (May 12, 8:30 p.m.), in which director Gillian Armstrong, probably the best Oz director to remain down under, traces 12 years in the lives of three working-class women. At the Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium, 10th & Constitution Ave. NW. $14-17; $78/series. (202) 357-3030. (Mark Jenkins)