Sophie Okonedo in Skin, which you should maybe see

Filmfest D.C. kicked off last night with a showing of Departures, the 2008 Oscar-Winner for Best Foreign Film, at the Harman Center for the Arts. The sushi went quickly, the movie did not, and the audience was easily amused. (To my mind, the film was fine but overlong, drawn out in an emotionally obvious way and not really Oscar material. But what a soundtrack! Good noodles, too.)

Below the jump, our picks for tonight’s screenings—what to see and what to skip. Happy festing!


Ciao Bella, about the Gothia Cup soccer tourney and a diffident boy who goes to great lengths to get laid. Sarah Godfrey calls it “charming, sweet, and funny.”

Celia the Queen, a documentary on legendary Cuban alto Celia Cruz. Justin Moyer says:

[T]he aw-shucks enthusiasm of Cruz’s fans carries the film, whether they be Talking Head David Byrne, members of a Japanese salsa organization, or Tato, the premier tow-truck driver for Hialeh, Fla.

A Pain in the Ass, in which a hit-man and a guy who’s bad at suicide meet in a motel. Hilarity & heartwarming ensue. Tricia Olszewski calls it “an absolute charmer…the rare farce that never gets tiresome.”

Skin, about a racially ambiguous girl growing up in apartheid-era South Africa. Tricia calls the story “sufficiently gripping to offset the film’s missteps.”


Fermat’s Room, a zero-sum flick about some mathematicians who have to puzzle their way out of almost certain death. Aaron Wiener calls it “a pedestrian film to which the titular genius would probably have been loath to lend his name.

The Other Half of the Sky, which Justin says “takes the Muslim world to task for the limited options it offers women.” Unfortunately, Justin laments, it does so with a “mishmash script and turgid editing.”


Check out our complete guide to Filmfest D.C.