Welcome to Filmfest DC at Home

While we have postponed this spring's Filmfest DC, the Washington, DC International Film Festival is pleased to present a virtual series of films, Filmfest DC at Home, to our many patrons and friends. Here's an opportunity to see films you may have missed in previous Filmfest DC programs.

Viewing is free-of-charge and films include recent audience favorites as well as some surprises. Filmfest DC at Home offers the quality of innovative and entertaining films you have come to appreciate during our annual festivals.

Each film will be available for one week, starting and ending on the dates listed below.

Our first virtual program was so popular that we are continuing Filmfest DC at Home to show our appreciation of our supportive audience as we shelter at home.

Mid-August Lunch
Gianni Di Gregorio - Italy (2008) - 75 mins

Winner of audience awards and other accolades at festivals from Bratislava and Bologna, Mid-August Lunch is a mellow gem of a film, and represents a modest triumph for Di Gregorio, who co-wrote Matteo Garrone's Gomorrah. Sixtyish Gianni (writer- director Gianni Di Gregorio) and his 93-year-old mother Valeria are looking forward to celebrating Italy's summer holiday Ferragosto in the flat they share in Rome's Trastevere district. But before you can say "put out another plate," Gianni's conniving landlord persuades the genial good son into caring for his own mother Marina and Aunt Maria for two nights. When his doctor chum foists his mother on him so he can take a lucrative night shift, Gianni finds himself with a full house. "We do this gladly, but up to a point," Valeria explains sensibly, and from this tension springs sublime, humanistic comedy.—Eddie Cockrell

View trailer        In Italian with English subtitles       

Shorts Corner

Life in Miniature
Ellen Evans - UK (2018) - 5 mins

In the precious world of miniatures, Kath Holden serves as a rare documentarian of daily life in the modern world.
Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival 2019

Official website        Closed captions available

Elementary School
Pedram Samadi - Iran (2018) - 9 mins

After an afternoon of childish fun on the way home from school, Pasha and Mortenza face a loss of innocence.
This film is available to view only in the United States.

View trailer        Official website       

Philip Vickery - USA (2017) - 15 mins

A blind date with Michelle goes awry when Seth can't stop talking about his broken heart. Then the evening takes a notable turn for the worse.

Official website       

Space to Explore
Katherine DuBois - USA (2018) - 14 mins

Against the arches and spires of the Utah desert, aerospace engineer Natalie Panek reconciles life's challenges in her pursuit of space travel.

Official website       

The Good Mother
Sarah Clift - Mexico, UK (2016) - 6 mins

A Mexican mother embarks on an epic journey to fulfill her son's singular, albeit timely, birthday request.
Winner, Gold Cannes Young Director Award
Official Selection, Palm Springs International Shorts Festival 2017

Official website       

A Brief Spark Bookended by Darkness
Brent Green - USA (2018) - 5 mins

A beautiful hand-drawn animated poetic and musical tale about love in an increasingly dark world.
Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival 2018

Official website       

Interview with the filmmaker

Tulipani: Love, Honor, and a Bicycle
Mike van Diem - Netherlands, Italy, Canada (2017) - 90 mins

After losing his farm in the 1953 floods, Dutchman Gauke sets out on his bicycle with a basketful of tulip bulbs and lands in a small town named Puglia, where he puts down roots. His newfound Italian paradise, complete when the love of his life arrives with baby in tow, is spoiled by local racketeers who threaten the harmony of the tight-knit community. Academy Award-winner Mike van Diem (Character) gives us this fantastical, larger-than-life tale of adventure and romance, cruelty and heartbreak. Bursting with color and romance and teeming with charming performances (including one from Oscar nominee Giancarlo Giannini as an exceedingly patient detective), Tulipani: Love, Honor, and a Bicycle is a story about travelling far to know who you are and about the joys and consolations of storytelling itself.—Various sources

View trailer        In Italian, English, and Dutch with English subtitles       

Available on Friday, May 29

Dear Walmart
Kiley Kraskouskas, Michael Blain - USA (2019) - 62 mins

Some workers love retail; it has its satisfactions. All they want is for retail to love them back, in the form of a living wage, affordable healthcare, a safe workplace, and respect. OURWalmart (OUR, Organization United for Respect) was begun in 2011 by a few brave workers at the world's largest private employer, many of whose two million-strong "family" live near the poverty line. Alone at first, and ultimately with the help of established union veterans, they used word of mouth to gain hundreds of members and unite them in training sessions that double as morale boosters, all done in secret. Dear Walmart (not entirely ironically titled) is an ultimately upbeat story of their personal empowerment and their first victory, a $9-per-hour minimum wage for some 500,000 people. But this win was followed by the retaliatory closure of five Walmart stores, a huge loss of jobs. Expect a sequel.—Judy Bloch

Every day now, as COVID-19 literally threatens the health and safety of millions of low-wage essential workers in retail stores, e-commerce warehouses, apartment buildings, delivery trucks and food processing plants, their need for a safe workplace, respect on the job, healthcare and pay that reflects the truly essential nature of their jobs is a vital part of our national challenge.

Dear Walmart tells the story of how the Walmart workers movement began, in the decade before the pandemic. Watch this space for a conversation with the filmmakers and the participants to update us on recent developments.

Dear Walmart had its World Premiere in the Justice Matters section of Filmfest DC 2019.

View trailer        Official website       

Twitter        Facebook        United4Respect.org
How the Pandemic is Driving Labor Activism Among Essential Workers
The Commercial Observer, May 11, 2020

Available on Friday, June 5

Division Ave
Tamar Glezerman - USA (2019) - 15 mins

A Jewish housewife and a young Mexican day worker forge an unlikely bond during Passover preparations in Hasidic Brooklyn.

View trailer        Official website       

Available on Friday, June 5

Traces of the Soul
Martin Cooper - UK (2018) - 86 mins

Calligraphy is an art, a philosophy, and, for its practitioners, a way of life rooted in ancient tradition. So it is surprising to learn how very contemporary calligraphy can be in the hands of 12 international artists profiled in Traces of the Soul. In an era when cultures worldwide are united by the habit of speed-sending billions of texts a day, handwriting in any alphabet, be it Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, or English, speaks to something truly universal: our humanity. As one artist notes, script "reaches the soul before it reaches the eye." Calligraphy becomes a physical meditation when performed on a floor canvas; becomes calligraffiti, changing lives, when it goes urban; and becomes a protest or a prayer when drawn for children caught up in wars. Calligraphy is not based on nature; it is nature. That's something to ponder while letting this beautiful film speak to you.—Judy Bloch

View trailer        Official website        In English and Japanese with English subtitles       

Available on Friday, June 5

Cesc Gay - Argentina, Spain (2015) - 108 mins

When Julián receives an unexpected visit from his childhood friend Tomás, the encounter is bittersweet. This reunion, their first meeting in many years, will also be their last. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, Julián has decided to forgo continued treatment and instead focus on putting his affairs in order: distributing his possessions, finalizing his funeral arrangements, and, most importantly, finding a home for his beloved dog, Truman. It's this final task that is causing him the greatest heartbreak. As the two men walk the streets of Madrid, visiting bookshops, restaurants, doctors, and veterinarians, the intimacy of their bond becomes abundantly clear. With characteristic understatement, Gay focuses on the small, seemingly inconsequential elements of human interaction — a gaze, a pause, a gesture — giving us glimpses of the depth of meaning inherent in the ordinary. With the collaboration of acting greats Ricardo Darín and Javier Cámara, Spanish director Cesc Gay brings humor and sensitivity to this private and personal story, creating a singular reflection on friendship at the end of life.—Toronto International Film festival

View trailer        In Spanish with English subtitles       

Available on Friday, June 12

A Hijacking
Tobias Lindholm - Denmark (2012) - 99 mins

Winner of critics and other prizes at the Palm Springs and Thessaloniki festivals, writer-director Tobias Lindholm's incredibly suspenseful thriller is a nuts-and-bolts procedural about the attempts to negotiate a hijacked Danish freighter away from a band of Somali pirates. It isn't long into its trip through the Indian Ocean that the MV Rozen is boarded by a ragtag and surprisingly young band of mercenaries. The CEO of the shipping company decides to ignore the experts and handle the negotiations himself, but as time drags on it becomes obvious he isn't up to the task. Stalemate: What happens next? Lindholm's documentary style, plus his decision to cast nonprofessionals with maritime and/or hostage experience, renders A Hijacking an edge-of-the-seat rollercoaster ride on the back of an urgent contemporary issue.—Eddie Cockrell

View trailer        In Danish and English with English subtitles       

Available on Friday, June 19

We Have Boots
Evans Chan - USA (2020) - 125 mins

Hong Kong is in the position of being both post-colonial and colonized, but its indigenous identity is as a democracy. The world saw this in the campaign for universal suffrage and human rights known as Occupy—the Umbrella Movement of 2014—and again in the recent conflicts that drew two million people into the streets in 2019. Then the world moved on. In this essential film, veteran director-editor Evans Chan puts us back in the center of the action in harrowing street footage and in affecting portraits, in their own words, of the movements' intellectual leaders: determined, articulate, funny, less vulnerable than their fresh faces would imply. They face imprisonment, loss of positions, and political disqualifications for their beliefs. But the future is theirs: the democracy movement may morph, but it won't die. In the words of one movement founder, "Don't think because you imprison all the roosters the sun won't rise."—Judy Bloch

Watch this space for a conversation with director Evans Chan and others.

This is a special on-line US Premiere available for viewing only in the United States.
We Have Boots is a selection for the Justice Matters section of Filmfest DC 2020.

View trailer        In Cantonese and English with English subtitles       

Available on Friday, June 26

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