Miss Alma Thomas: A Life in Color; photo Courtesy of DC Shorts

DC Shorts International Film Festival

If long summer blockbusters aren’t your thing, then a weeklong celebration of high-brow film may be just right. The 18th edition of the DC Shorts International Film Festival begins Sept. 9 with a virtual reception honoring the 95 films from 26 countries making up this 10-day showcase. (Also, a handful of in-person screenings are back for this year’s affair.) The festival is a celebration of the filmmaking accomplishments of some of the world’s most talented creators, whose presented work was chosen from over 900 submissions across the globe. Four shorts will make their world premiere, seven will debut for the first time in North America, and five will be shown for the first time in the U.S. Genres, topics, filmmaking styles, and subjects vary per film, but the scheduled 90-minute screening sessions—called showcases—tie together works with similar themes to help viewers appreciate the way each director’s unique approaches to the medium relates to one another in a condensed time. DC Shorts’ Director of Programming Joe Bilancio calls it “cinematic dim sum,” for showcases’ ability to mix foreign language, American, animation, and documentary-style films into one continuous session. One showcase of note, happening at the Goethe-Institut on Sept. 10, spotlights District-based filmmakers, whose documentaries center on the theme of marginalization. Miss Alma Thomas: A Life in Color revisits 1972 and 2009 to show the pioneering path of the Black woman who made history at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the White House; Ourselves, in Stories centers on minority voices trying to carve out a space for themselves in the indie comic community; Oversight follows the day-to-day work of the District’s Office of the Inspector General to identify fraud and abuse in the city’s governance. Panel discussions and workshops for aspiring and early-career artists will also be peppered throughout the festival. The festival runs Sept. 9 to Sept. 19 at  JxJ Theater, 1529 16th St. NW, Goethe-Institut Washington, 1377 R St. NW, and virtually. dcshorts.com. $12-$140. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination and masks required for all in-person events.