FRIDAY, MARCH 21
STILL LIFE Chinese director Jia Zhangke has always demonstrated a strong sense of place, from his early films set in Shanxi, his home province, to The World, which uses a Beijing international-landmarks theme park as its backdrop. This film features his most dramatic setting yet: the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, which has evicted more than 1 million people. The desolation is so alien that Jia — in a his rare overstated gambit — adds the blastoff of an imaginary rocket to the landscape. That miscue aside, this is an evocative tale of loss, as two characters search for vanished relatives in a place where everything is about to disappear. (2006, 108 min) Part of the Environmental Film Festival. 7 pm, Freer/Sackler Galleries, 12th & Constitution Ave SW. Free; tickets distributed one hour before screening.
THE TRIAL OF THE LONESOME PINE Henry Fonda and Fred MacMurray star in this 1930s film, the first outdoor three-strip technicolor feature. The story involves the railroad's arrival in backwoods Kentucky, and the clan feuds that aren't ended by the area's newfound prosperity. (1936, 102 min) 7 pm, Films on the Hill, Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 Seventh Street, SE. $5.
THE UNFORESEEN This documentary observes a struggle over a new subdivision outside Austin that became a turning point in the region's attitude toward suburban sprawl. (2007, 88 min) Part of the Environmental Film Festival. 7 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd. $9.75
OUT OF THE PAST Robert Mitchum plays a PI trying to build a new life in Jacques Torneur's dark love-triangle tale, which many noir buffs rate as the genre's best. (1947, 97 min) (also March 22, 23, 25, & 27) 9:30 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd. $9.75
SATURDAY, MARCH 22
WORLD WATER DAY TRIBUTE A full day of films about water issues. Includes FLOW: FOR LOVE OF WATER (at 6 pm), a wide-ranging analysis of pollution, privatization, and possible solutions. Irena Salina's illuminating film travels from Africa and South America, where multinational corporations and the World bank insist that people must learn to pay for water, to Europe, home to such major dealers as Suez, Vivendi, and Nestle. It seems that India, where UV treatments are disinfecting water and "water harvesting" is reclaiming Rajasthan's desert, has more reason for hope than the U.S., where pesticides in water are disrupting sex hormones, the Southwest faces major shortages, and Michigan courts upheld Nestle's plan to drain the state's rural aquifers for its many brands of bottled water. (2008, 93 min) Part of the Environmental Film Festival. 11 am-7:30 pm, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 16th & P Sts NW.
PROFIT MOTIVE AND THE WHISPERING WIND John Gianvito's poetic visual history of the U.S. intercuts footage of untrammeled nature with scenes of memorials, gravestones, and markers for slaughtered Indians, rebellious slaves, early feminists, abolitionists, massacred strikers, and others who challenged the American status quo. 2007, 60 min.) Part of the Environmental Film Festival. 1 pm, National Gallery of Art East Building auditorium. Free.
THE SILENCE While traveling abroad, two sisters take refuge from imminent crisis in a near-vacant hotel, where the sort of psychological combat typical of Ingmar Bergman's later films ensues. (1963, 96 min) (Also March 22 & 23) 1:30, 7 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd. $9.75
RADIANT CITY Taking its name from Le Corbusier's calamitous 1935 notion of a metropolis separated into zones for each use, this film uses a Calgary planned community to illustrate the failures of suburbia. Part of the Environmental Film Festival. 2:30 pm, National Gallery of Art East Building auditorium. Free.
GARBAGE WARRIOR First New Mexico architect Michael Reynolds discovered how to build low-impact houses and off-the-grid communities from discarded material. Then he had to battle the zoning and planning authorities who insisted on doing things the way everyone else does. Perhaps the most interesting segment of Oliver Hodge's documentary follows Reynolds to the tsunami-ravaged Andaman Islands, where the architect's ingenuity proved especially useful. (2007, 88 min) Part of the Environmental Film Festival. 4:30 pm, National Gallery of Art East Building auditorium. Free.
WHEN STRANGERS MARRY In this classic example of low-budget Monogram Studios' fare, which features Robert Mitchum's first starring role, rushed marriage leads to apparent murder. (1944, 67 min) With CROSSFIRE, in which Mitchum plays a sergeant investigating the possibility that a racist murder was committed by one of his men while the troop was in Washington after returning from World War II. (1947, 86 min) (Both also March 23 & 24) 3:45 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd. $9.75
COME AND GET IT Howard Hawks and William Wyler co-directed this adaptation of Edna Ferber's novel about a lumber tycoon who duels with his son for the love of a young woman — the daughter of the one dad let get away. (1936, 99 min) Part of the Environmental Film Festival. 7 pm, Films on the Hill, Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 Seventh Street, SE. $5.
MONDAY, MARCH 24
VARIATION One of Michael Haneke's early made-for-Austrian-TV movies, this bookish "comedy" opens with a discussion of Goethe and includes the public reading of a Brecht poem. Such literary touches set the tone for a talky, rather Bergman-like study of adultery: Professorial Georg abandons his wife, Eva, to live with Anna, the bisexual lover of a temperamental stage actress, Kitty. Eva and Kitty are furious, but no one takes the change harder than Sigrid, George's oversensitive younger sister, who lived with George and Eva and stays with Eva after the split. There's much of interest here for students of Haneke's later work, but this is the work of a filmmaker who's still overly indebted to his literary influences. (1983, 98 min) 6:30 pm, Goethe-Institut, 812 Seventh St NW. $6.
TUESDAY, MARCH 25
THE WAY I SPENT THE END OF THE WORLD Recent Romanian films, even a domestic-scaled one like this, are shadowed by the reign of former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Teenage Eva's coming-of-age saga observes such universal matters as sibling relationships and sexual initiation, but its climax is Romania's 1989 uprising. (2006, 106 min) Part of the 2008 Francophonie Film Fest. 7 pm, S. Dillon Ripley Center Lecture Hall, 1100 Jefferson Drive SW. $13. Reservations: 202 633 3030 or Smithsonian Resident Associates.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26
SUNSET BOULEVARD Perhaps Billy Wilder's darkest film, this tale of a faded actress is one of Hollywood's first public acknowledgments that its innocence was long gone. (1950, 110 min) 6 pm, Smithsonian American Art Museum, McEvoy Auditorium, 8th & G Sts NW. Free.
SWING GIRLS In the mode of Hula Girls and Linda, Linda, Linda, this is another of those girls-pull-together comedies that have proved successful in Japan recently. In this variation on the theme, directed by Shinobu (Waterboys) Yaguchi, some high-school girls are forced to substitute for the members of the marching band after their sloppy handling of lunch causes the real musicians to get food poisoning. (2004, 105 min) 6:30 pm, Japanese Information and Culture Center, 1155 21st St NW. Free; reservations required. RSVP to email@example.com
THE WHITE ROSE D.W. Griffith went on location in rural Louisiana to shoot this then-controversial tale of a young minister who seduces and abandons a poor woman, leaving her with a child and a crippling reputation. (1923, 100 min) Part of the Environmental Film Festival. 7 pm, Films on the Hill, Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 Seventh Street, SE. $5.
THURSDAY, MARCH 27
ONE PIECE 8: THE DESERT PRINCESS AND THE PIRATES The eighth chapter in this anime series sends its heroes, a band of playful young pirates, to the desert kingdom of Alabasta in order to warn King Cobra about a crime cartel's plot. (90 min) 6:30 pm, Japanese Information and Culture Center, 1155 21st St NW. Free; reservations required. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org