APRIL 2-22

Venice, some have argued, has been moribund since before John Ruskin apotheosized it some 150 years ago. Perhaps that explains its appeal to filmmakers, who have frequently enlisted it as a ready-made set, either for its sheer picturesqueness or as a signifier of decadence. This program includes such mainstream fare as the Astaire/Rogers musical Top Hat (April 8, 2:30 p.m.) and David Lean’s Summertime (April 9, 1 p.m.), but many of these films are doomstruck: Joseph Losey’s Eve (April 9, 6 p.m.); Visconti’s Senso (pictured, April 15, 2:30 p.m.) and Death in Venice (April 16, 6 p.m.); and Paul Schrader’s overripe The Comfort of Strangers (April 22, 2 p.m.), in which the city itself is by far the most compelling character. Among the more remarkable offerings in the series are Orson Welles’ ingenious no-budget Othello (April 16, 1 p.m.) and Nicolas Roeg’s tautly foreboding Don’t Look Now (April 22, after The Comfort of Strangers). At the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th & Constitution Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 737-4215. (Mark Jenkins)