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Filmfest Opens

Annual Event Offers World of Options

Andy and Mike, friends who work as anti-corporate activists, set up a Web site a few years ago designed to be a parody of the World Trade Organization.

Some Web site visitors, however, failed to see that it was not the real thing and sent the duo invitations to speak at trade-related conferences around the world. Andy and Mike graciously accepted.

Their journey is documented in the film “The Yes Men,” one of more than 100 films that will be shown as part of Filmfest D.C., which continues through May 2 at locations throughout the city.

The 18th annual festival is an eclectic mix of short films, documentaries and features highlighting some of the best movies made throughout the world.

“We try to bring films to Washington that in most cases would not show here,” said Tony Gittens, festival director. “They’re very good films and they’re reflective of the cultures that produce them.”

One of the highlights of the festival is the inclusion of eight films from Argentina, including this week’s opening night feature, “Valentin.”

“Here’s a country facing some serious economic issues, yet they still produce marvelous little films,” Gittens said. “We wanted to showcase them.”

The festival will also include a series dealing with politics. Films include “Al-Jazeera Exclusive,” an inside look at the Arab-world television station; “Commandante,” Oliver Stone’s rarely seen piece on Fidel Castro; and “What Jackie Knew,” a French documentary focusing on Jackie Kennedy’s relationship with her president husband.

A series of music-related films will also be shown. One of the highlights includes “Nina Simone: Love Songstress,” which features footage from the singer’s 1976 Paris concert.

The festival will close with the documentary “Super Size Me,” which follows director Morgan Spurlock’s journey of eating nothing but McDonald’s for 30 straight days. Spurlock will also be on hand to answer questions after the film.

“If people take the time to spend a good amount of time with us, they’ll see there are really strong alternatives to Hollywood films,” Gittens said.

General admission to most festival events is $9, although some screenings, including closing night, cost more. For more information, visit www.filmfestdc.org.

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