Thursday, April 17, 2014

28th Annual Filmfest DC Opens Today

The Grand Seduction kicks off Filmfest DC 2014

The Grand Finale?

All good great things must come to an end; but it's with a heavy heart, that I prepare this year's preview for Filmfest DC. DC's top film festival kicks off its 28th and likely final edition tonight with an Opening Night screening of The Grand Seduction at AMC Mazza; before wrapping up on Sunday, April 27th at the venerable Lincoln Theatre with The Bachelor Weekend. In between, prepare to be dazzled by an assortment of 69 films (71 total) from around the world, and across eight venues. If this is the end, festival directors Tony Gittens and Shirin Ghareeb are definitely going out with a bang: This year's lineup looks amazing.

Selecting what films to see at Filmfest DC is one of my favorite (and most difficult) things to do. It usually takes me about an hour to decide... I have to wrestle with locations, time conflicts and the unenviable task of eliminating films I'm dying to see. Luckily, the end justifies the means; as I've yet to see even one bad movie in over a decade of attending/reviewing. Unfortunately, great movies (and even better track records) don't come cheap; and unless the festival finds about $250,000, Filmfest DC won't be back next year.

That's an absolute sin in my humble opinion, and I'd love to see the DC government step up in a big way (finally, those traffic cameras can come in handy!) If not, it's time to rally the troops and do it ourselves. Kickstarter? Stay tuned, and we'll be sure to keep you posted on the next plan of attack. 29 is my lucky number; and nothing would make me happier than to preview the 29th annual Filmfest DC this time, next year.

Meanwhile, Filmfest DC v28.0 is looking like a smash. It begins with the aforementioned Canadian comedy The Grand Seduction, starring Taylor Kitsch and Brendan Gleeson. Director Don McKellar is scheduled to attend; and attendees will be treated to a reception following the screening. Tickets cost $40 and are available at the box office.

The festival kicks into high gear on Friday with a dozen films, including the US premiere of Gare Du Nord at Landmark E Street Cinema (8:30 PM, click here to purchase online.) Speaking of Landmark, Bethesda Row will host 12 screenings... marking the first time Filmfest DC has traveled north to Bethesda.

I have a full dance card on Saturday, April 19; but that didn't stop me from setting aside 102 minutes to see 11/6, starring one of my favorite French actors Francois Cluzet (The Intouchables, Tell No One) part of the Trust No One: Espionage and Thrillers series. Fingers crossed, it's showing in the Avalon Theatre's main auditorium (with all due respect to Avalon 2 and the new elevator.)

Week two starts with a culinary delight... Daniel Cohen's Le Chef, starring Jean Reno (Sunday, April 17th at Landmark E Street Cinema, 7:00 PM.) Léon: The Professional in chef's whites? Are you kidding me? Of course, I'm going to be there.

Rather than bore you with the rest of my choices (you can always follow us on Twitter (@DCOutlook) I encourage you to check out the full rundown of films for yourself. There, you can break down the schedule by country, date, language, title, venue... you name it. As for tickets, most films cost 12 bucks at the door; but package deals are available for movie aficionados (you know who you are.) The Director's Package gives you 10 tickets for $95 + $3 convenience fee ($120 value) while the Weekday Package provides 4 tickets for $39 + $1.50 convenience fee ($48 value) and is valid for screenings Monday through Thursday. Not enough? Then become a Filmfest DC STAR and get two tickets to every film in the festival (including Opening and Closing Nights) access to special events and no hassle entrance to all films and receptions. DC STAR status costs $600, and can only be purchased online (click here.)

As always, Filmfest DC could use your help... as a volunteer. Click here for details; and keep in mind, all volunteers get a free Filmfest DC t-shirt (and a complimentary ticket to a regular screening of your choice for working two shifts.)

Last but not least, the festival concludes with The Bachelor Weekend at the Lincoln Theatre on Sunday, April 27th. Everyone in attendance is invited to a closing reception at nearby Brixton (901 U Street, NW.) Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased online (click here) or at the Lincoln, day of.

Although I hope (and pray) that this isn't the end, I'd like to convey my thanks & utmost admiration to everyone who has made Filmfest DC the institution that it is. For 28 years, it has provided the nation's capital with the absolute best in international film, countless memories and unrivaled class. Bravo!