International Film Fest's 'Lighter Side,' from France to Japan

 "Facing Mirrors" (Iran)
Washington International Film Festival
"Facing Mirrors" (Iran)

Washington is a magnet for film festivals—we’ve got documentary film festivals, gay and lesbian film festivals, environmental film festivals, short film festivals. You name it, there’s a festival.

But before all that happened here, there was the grand-daddy of them all, the Washington International Film Festival. It’s back, now in its 26th year (going back to 1986).

This year’s festival—themed “The Lighter Side”—runs from April 12 to April 22 at a variety of venues all over town, with 80 films from more than 35 countries, making it a truly international film festival. The festival will feature comedies from France, Argentina, Italy and Japan.

Another focus of the festival will be “Caribbean Journeys,” which features new works from Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Reggae music, of course, will figure strongly in films from the Caribbean, not least among them “Marley,” a D.C. premiere of an emotional documentary on the late, great Bob Marley, who in pioneering Reggae in star-power fashion, also transformed how we view the region and his beloved Jamaica. Along with that is “Calypso Rose” about the famed calypso singer and "Ras Ta: A Soul’s Journey,” featuring Marley’s granddaughter. Both films are American premieres.

“Starbuck," the hit Canadian comedy about a beleaguered man who finds out he’s sired hundreds of children by way of his donated sperm, kicks off the festival at the Regal Cinemas, Thursday, April 12, at 7 p.m., hosted by long-time WJLA entertainment reporter Arch Campbell with a party at Bar Louie in Chinatown afterward.

Another special series will focus on justice, both the pursuit of and lack of, called “Justice Matters” with such films as “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator” from the United States, the Canadian film “Pink Ribbons, Inc.” and others.

The festival-closing film is the hugely popular French hit, “The Intouchables,” starring Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano is a class buddy film, about a handicapped, wheel-chair bound white millionaire and his Senegalese caretaker. The film broke all box-office records in France. There will be two screenings at the French Embassy with showings at 3 and 7 p.m. with a reception between showings

Venues for the festival films include the Avalon Theatre, the Embassy of France, the Goethe-Institut, Landmark’s E Street Cinema, the National Gallery of Art, the Naval Heritage Center and Regal Cinemas, Gallery Place.

For information on films, times and locations, visit

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Tue, 27 Jun 2017 11:42:16 -0400

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