High­lights of the Fes­ti­val’s Two-Decade Run

The Washington Post Sunday - - Arts -

1987: Film­fest DC, also called the Wash­ing­ton, DC In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, opens with a screen­ing of Elem Klimov’s moody Rus­sian film “Farewell” and closes with Lasse Hal­strom’s “My Life as a Dog.” 5,000 peo­ple at­tend the fes­ti­val. 1990: Founders Mar­cia Zal­bowitz and Tony Git­tens part com­pany; Git­tens as­sumes con­trol of fes­ti­val. 1992: “Global Rhythms,” a mu­sic-on­film se­ries, is in­tro­duced as a reg­u­lar fest tra­di­tion. 1993: Morgan Free­man is hon­ored, as well as Os­car-win­ning sound tech­ni­cian Rus­sell Wil­liams II. Shirin Gha­reeb be­comes the fes­ti­val’s as­sis­tant di­rec­tor. 1996: Mayor Mar­ion Barry ap­points Git­tens ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the D.C. Com­mis­sion on the Arts and Hu­man­i­ties. Git­tens hires Gha­reeb as his ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant. The Em­bassy of China asks Film­fest DC not to screen “The Gate of Heav­enly Peace,” a doc­u­men­tary about the post-Tianan­men Square protest move­ment; the film is shown as planned. Gha­reeb founds the an­nual Ara­bian Sights Film Fes­ti­val, funded by the Arts and Hu­man­i­ties Com­mis­sion. 2007: Olivier Da­han presents his film about the life of chanteuse Edith Piaf, “La Vie en Rose,” to open the fes­ti­val; the clos­ing night film is “Paris, Je T’aime,” in which 20 prom­i­nent film­mak­ers, from Alexan­der Payne to Al­fonso Cuaron, cre­ated short works about love. 2001: 37,000 peo­ple at­tend the fes­ti­val. 2002: Peter Bog­danovich at­tends the open­ing night screen­ing of “The Cat’s Meow,” his first fea­ture film in nearly a decade. 2005: Guest cu­ra­tors Chi-hui Yang, di­rec­tor of the San Fran­cisco In­ter­na­tional Asian Amer­i­can Film Fes­ti­val, and Smith­so­nian programmer Man­jula Ku­mar cu­rate the In­dian and Chi­nese lan­guage se­ries. 2003: Syd­ney Pol­lack par­tic­i­pates in panel dis­cus­sion; John Malkovich brings his di­rec­to­rial de­but, “The Dancer Up­stairs.” 2004: Morgan Spur­lock comes for the screen­ing of his clos­ing-night film, “Su­per Size Me.”

2006: Char­l­ize Theron ap­pears to in­tro­duce “East of Ha­vana,” a doc­u­men­tary the ac­tress pro­duced about hip-hop in Cuba. 34,000 peo­ple at­tend.

— Des­son Thom­son


In its first year, the fes­ti­val drew 5,000 movie­go­ers. In 2006, 34,000 at­tended.

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