FRIDAY, MARCH 7
FIRE FIGHTERS A cocky hunter's livelihood is threatened by the arrival of a vegetarian (if not quite nonviolent) Buddhist monk in this film set in early-20th-century Sri Lanka. While the hunter tries to undermine the monk, his son becomes friends with the monk's son, suggesting a peaceful future for the country. (This is more than a little ironic, since today's Sri Lanka is war-torn, and well-supplied with meat dishes.) Somaratne Dissanayake's film is repetitive and awkwardly structured, but potentially interesting both to students of Sri Lankan culture and nature lovers: The movie is set in a mountainous forest, and its cast includes a leopard, a bear, elephants, tapirs, and deer. (2004, 105 min) 7 pm, Freer/Sackler Galleries, 12th & Constitution Ave SW. Free; tickets distributed one hour before screening.
FAAT KINE Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene's 2000 film skewers the hypocrisies of contemporary Dakar, now more affluent than in such earlier Sembene films as Mandabi. The title character is a successful gas-station manager, a single mother who supports her mother and two college-bound kids. Faat Kine (Venus Seye) had to abandon her own white-collar aspirations when she was expelled from school for being pregnant. Now that she's financially successful she's still considered somehow disreputable -- even by the children for whom she sacrificed her own dreams. A husband, most people agree, is what Kine needs, even though men have abused and abandoned her throughout her life. (2000, 118 min) 9:45 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd.
SATURDAY, MARCH 8
GREEN HAIR, GREY HAIR Katrina Taylor and Rachell William's 30-minute documentary chronicles the work of We Are Family, a punk-rooted group that provides groceries and companionship to African-American seniors in the area north of Union Station. Included are the comments (and sometimes the music) of Fugazi's Joe Lally, ex-Dismemberment Plan member Travis Morrison, and group co-founder Mark Andersen, co-author (with me) of Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital. 2:30 pm,
MAX LINDER CINE-CONCERT An inspiration to Charlie Chaplin, French comic Max Linder was the first performer to develop a recurring character for cinema: a mischievous ladies's man. This program presents six of Linder's shorts, set to the world premiere of a new score composed and conducted by Michel Thibaudeau and performed by Paris's Octour de France. (1911-1913, 70 min) 3 pm, National Gallery of Art East Building auditorium. Free.
MOOLAADE Set entirely in a small West African village, and employing only the simplest of cinematic effects, this is a stirring piece of ideological theater. Made by 81-year-old Senegalese writer-director Ousmane Sembene, who learned some of his politics in the French Army and on Marseilles's docks, the film has a Brechtian quality. While one of its motifs -- the revolt of women against men -- is at least as old as Aristophanes, the controversial tradition at the center of the parable is specifically African: female circumcision. The showdown begins when four pre-adolescent girls ask Colle (Fatoumata Coulibaly) to save them from being "cut." Although Sembene strongly suggests a few violent incidents, his principal strategy is not evoke the pain of being mangled by a group of stern, knife-wielding priestesses. Instead, the director stages symbolic faceoffs, didactic speeches, and even musical numbers. The effect is anything but naturalistic. Opposing female oppression with pageantry as much as logic, Moolaade delivers a universal statement about a localized barbarism. (2004, 124 min) 5 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd.
SUNDAY, MARCH 9
SANKARA Sri Lankan director Prasanna Jayakody's film is a Buddhist parable about a young monk who's assigned to restore temple paintings about the need to resist desire, only to meet a young woman who stirs his lust. (2006, 87 min) 1 pm, Freer/Sackler Galleries, 12th & Constitution Ave SW. Free; tickets distributed one hour before screening.
NAMIBIA: THE STRUGGLE FOR LIBERATION Director Charles (i>Killer of Sheep) Burnett will attend this screening of his latest film, an epic docudrama about Sam Nujoma, the first president of Namibia. (2007, 161 min) 1 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd.
THE TENDER TRAP An elderly primatologist tries to snare his young wife, who he suspects of adultery. (2005, 80 min) 3 pm, Freer/Sackler Galleries, 12th & Constitution Ave SW. Free; tickets distributed one hour before screening.
THE SUN The third in Russian director Alexander Sokurov's valentines to dictators (following Lenin and Hitler) is this intensely annoying apologia for Emperor Hirohito. Set at the end of World War II, and mostly in the imperial place, the film depicts Hirohito as he preferred to be seen: an innocent marine biologist who was largely unaware of what was being done in his name. (History definitively disagrees.) The emperor is a funny little guy, and when the brusque, vulgar Americans finally arrive, they decide he looks like Charlie Chaplin. The film has a greenish pallor that recalls the director's Hitler film, Moloch, and not a second of the narrative rings true. Sokurov chose to use Japanese (with a smattering of English), but the dialogue sounds contemporary, and is certainly not the formal language of the imperial court in 1945. The depiction of Hirohito's relationship with his courtiers is absurd, and the emperor's final words to his empress -- "now we are free" -- is an insult to every one of Japanese imperialism's 1933-45 victims. (2005, 115 min) 4:30 pm, National Gallery of Art East Building auditorium. Free.
BLACK GIRL Based on an actual case, Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene's '60s drama is sub-Saharan African cinema's first major film. It's the tale of Diouana, a young woman who worked happily as a nanny for a French family in Dakar. After she follows her employers to the south of France, she begins to feel trapped, leading to a harrowing kicker and a bitter epilogue. Far from naturalistic, the film begins with Diouana's arrival in France, and relies heavily on flashback and voiceover to put the viewer into the sequestered, bewildered woman's situation. Shown with Sembene's debut film, the 20-minute Borom Sarret, the tale of an exploited cart driver that's the first of the director's several tales of a poor Dakar resident exploited by his richer and more powerful countrymen. (1966, 65 min) 5 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd.
MONDAY, MARCH 10
THE REBELLION Michael Haneke's 1993 film is the tale of a veteran, partially crippled in World War I, who finally decides he has been too accepting of official capriciousness. (1993, 105 min) 6:30 pm, Goethe-Institut, 812 Seventh St NW. $6.
TUESDAY, MARCH 11
CAMP DE THIAROYE Ousmane Sembene's most harrowing film (co-directed with Thierno Faty Sow) is based on the true story of African soldiers who return from fighting for the French in World War II, only to find themselves essentially imprisoned in a camp in Senegal. The veterans gradually realize that, with Hitler in retreat, they less than useless to the country they served. (1987, 157 min) 6:45 pm, American Film Institute Silver Theater, 8633 Colesville Rd.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12
THE SECRET OF THE GRAIN Director Abdellatif Kechiche's film won Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay Cesars, France's equivalent of the Oscars. It's the complex tale of a worn-out shipyard worker who wants to start a restaurant, and the family that rallies to make his goal a possibility. (2006, 151 min) 7 pm, La Maison Francaise, 4101 Reservoir Rd NW. $8. Reservations required: e-mail email@example.com
BORED IN BRNO Vladimir Moravek's abundantly populated farce playfully illustrates the demographic factoid that 150,000 people have sex in the Czech Republic's second-largest city on a typical Saturday night. While the central characters are a "slow" provincial man and his virginal Brno pen-pal, a dozen other would-be lovers flit through the narrative, including a sad-sack actor, a Eastern-influenced psychobabblist, a spanking enthusiast, a closted gay guy, and the longtime pal who's the object of his affections. (2003, 103 min) 8:30pm, Avalon Theater, 5612 Connecticut Ave NW.
THURSDAY, MARCH 13
WHO WAS EDGAR ALLAN? This TV movie, made early in Michael Haneke's career, is a resolution-less mystery that shows the influence of such modernist writers as Alain Robbe-Grillet. A young German, identified only as "the student," is indulging his interests in art and cocaine while living in Venice. He may be somehow connected to the death -- murder? suicide? accident? -- of a countess, whose plunge into a canal is merely suggested in the opening scene. Then he meets an older man who doesn't physically resemble him, yet becomes a sort of psychic doppelganger. Not altogether satisfying, but an assured exercise in mood, and an intriguing depiction of an unglamorous Venice the tourists don't see. (1984, 83 min) 6:30 pm, Goethe-Institut, 812 Seventh St NW. $6.
GOJIRA The original of this monster movie -- renamed Godzilla for the American market -- lacks the American TV newsman's commentary, but that just distracted from the ecological message. Implicitly critical of American nuclear testing, the film also has a very Japanese ethos, emphasizing self-sacrifice over the fun of smashing stuff up. (1954, 78 min) 6:30 pm, Japanese Information and Culture Center
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: THE ADAPTATION, 1982-89 The Hirshhorn decides to be kind and rewind this rarely seen piece of genuine homemade cinema: a shot-for-shot reconstruction of Steven Spielberg's latter-day Saturday-morning serial, made over seven years by three Mississippi kids who were 12 when the project began. Two of the filmmakers, Chris Strompolos and Eric Zala, will be present hand to discuss their movie and answer questions. (1989, 100 min) 8 pm, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 7th St & Independence Ave SW. Free.>