Filmfest DC

The 35th annual Washington, D.C. International Film Festival began June 4, but there’s a wealth of films to explore in the back half of the festival, which ends June 13. Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust, part of Filmfest’s Justice Matters Series, is one; the documentary centers on the Owens Valley, a region of eastern California most known for housing the Manzanar War Relocation Center, one of ten concentration camps where the U.S. detained Japanese Americans during World War II. In the film, though, the camp is only one segment of a complex web of environmental and social exploitation taking place over more than 150 years. The complex narrative is held together by water—how it sustained the Pauite and Shoshone people before U.S. settlement, how the development of Los Angeles motivated depletion of a large lake through the construction of an aqueduct, and how the continuing presence of water in the Valley motivated Manzanar’s location in the 1940s. Though it is largely a wake-up call for Los Angeles, Manzanar, Diverted provides a perspective on water use that could benefit much of us in the United States. As an Owens Valley activist interviewed in the film explains, it is simply “one of the prime exemplars of resource extraction by a remote and often hostile, urban area.” Meanwhile, Love Type D, a rom-com that doubles as sci-fi, follows a woman named Frankie (Maeve Dermody) as she discovers, after yet another breakup, that she has a “dumpee gene.” Determined to transform her love life, she enlists the help of her most recent ex’s 11-year-old brother, Wilbur, who tells her she can reverse her genetic profile if she gets back together with every man she has ever dated and then dumps each one. The blunders that follow are surreal yet entertaining, sort of like seeing your own romantic anxieties embodied in an absurdist and cringe-worthy series of events. Love Type D falls short in some areas—Frankie’s “unlikely” alliance with a child, for instance, feels overdone at times—but all in all, the film is a refreshing detour from your typical romantic comedy. Also noteworthy are documentaries with local ties, like Go-Go City: Displacement & Protest in Washington, D.C. and A Tale of Three Chinatowns, both available through the weekend. The films are available to stream through June 13 at filmfestdc.org. Love Type D will screen at 7:30 p.m. on June 12 at the Wharf, 960 Wharf St. SW. $9–$10.