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After announcing that last year’s festival would be its last go-round, the organizers of Filmfest DC are back with a slimmed-down slate of about 70 features and shorts that are again focused around the familiar headings of Justice Matters, Trust No One, and the Lighter Side. The films represent more than 30 countries.
The majority of screenings will take place at Landmark E Street Cinema in Metro Center and the AMC Mazza Gallerie in Friendship Heights, with a few more spread among the Goethe-Institut, Lincoln Theatre, and Embassy of France, making it easier for festival attendees to attend multiple screenings in one place.
In order to bring back the festival from near-certain death, festival director Tony Gittens had to cut costs enormously. In addition to decreasing the number of films screened, organizers chose to cut back on the number of special guests they flew in for screenings—this year, they’ll interact with attendees via Skype. Festival staff members also took pay cuts. Sponsors who hadn’t funded the festival in the past stepped up with financial contributions, as did previous sponsors. While ticket sales will be required to get the festival in the black, Gittens remains optimistic about the festival’s future and hopes it will return for its 30th presentation next year.
The full lineup for the festival, which runs April 16 to 26, can be found on the Filmfest DC website. Among the highlights are two documentaries from Trinidad, PAN! Our Musical Odyssey (which highlights the history of steel pan music), and The Glamour Boyz Again: The Mighty Sparrow and Lord Superior On the Hilton Rooftop, which focuses on Calypso musicians. There’s also They Die By Dawn, a film based on the true stories of black outlaws in the American West, starring Erykah Badu, Rosario Dawson, and Michael K. Williams.
For a whole slew of reviews and our top picks of the Filmfest slate, check out Washington City Paper‘s guide to the festival, in print and online April 16.
Photo of The Glamour Boyz Again: The Mighty Sparrow and Lord Superior on the Hilton Rooftop courtesy of Geoffrey F. Dunn, Ph.D.