Filmfest DC 2013 Opens: ’10 Must-See Films’ by Sydney-Chanele Dawkins


Filmfest DC 2013 *****


by Sydney-Chanele Dawkins

Filmfest DC 2013‘s spirit of cinematic celebration is five star entertainment, and has become an important Washington showcase for new international cinema and talent. Featuring over 80 features, documentaries, and shorts, this year the 27th edition of Filmfest DC has added a bold, and exotic provocation to the festival’s programming that looks to be thrilling and edge-of-your-seat cinematic fun.

Tony Gittens, the founder and Director of the Washington, DC International Film Festival leads the annual adventure that includes the return of popular Filmfest DC sections: The Lighter Side, Justice Matters, the Circle Award, and Global Rhythms again this year, and introduces an exciting new film section – Trust No One (My favorite of the Fest), featuring espionage, crime, and film thrillers of international misdeeds.

The adult and audacious Austrian provocateur Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise Trilogy is just one of the festival highlights. Laurence Anyways, by Canada’s Xavier Dolan, brings a new kind of love story to the screen, and directing her first documentary is fellow Canadian, Sarah Polley, the Oscar-nominated actor/director whose latest genre twisting film Stories We Tell, riveted the Telluride, Venice, Toronto, and Sundance Film Festivals.

Here is a mini-highlight selection of 10 anticipated and MUST-SEE films at Filmfest DC 2013 that you still have the opportunity to treat yourself to before the Festival ends on Sunday April 21, 2013:

Caught in the Web (Director Chen Kaige. China, 2012, 121 minutes).

Chinese master filmmaker Chen Kaige is know for his his perceptions of Chinese traditional culture in his epic, richly supplied dramas like Farewell My Concubine, The Emperor and the Assassin, and Together. Caught in the Web is something different. Perception is reality, and Kaige’s latest film examines modern China and life in a digital world where everything is connected. Personal insight into the effects of how misunderstanding and the technology that was meant to bring us together, can be damaging and tear us apart. Caught in the Web was the official entry of China to the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 85th Academy Awards this year.

In Mandarian with English subtitles.

Tuesday, April 16, 6:30 p.m., Avalon Theatre.

Thursday, April 18, 8:45p.m., Avalon Theatre.


Easy Money II (Director Babak Najafi. Sweden, 2012, 100 minutes).

easy_money_II (1)

The stylish, action thriller Easy Money based on Jens Lapidus’ novel, Snabba Cash (Easy Money), made a star out of Joel Kinneman (AMC’s The Killing and soon to star in Robocop remake) and director Daniel Espinosa, who answered the knock of Hollywood and went on to work with Denzel Washington on Safe House. Coming (again) to a theater near you …Warner Bros. holds the Easy Money rights to an American remake with Zac Efron.

The Swedish underground and the pursuit of money cross paths once again in Easy Money II, the sequel, and a Filmfest DC feature in theTrust No One lineup. Taking place three years later with a new director, but continues with Joel Kinneman at the lead. Part three, Livet deluxe (Life Delux), in the Easy Money trilogy is scheduled for release in Sweden this Fall.

In Swedish and Spanish with English subtitles.

Saturday April 20, 9:30p.m., AMC Mazza Gallerie.


In the House (Director-Francois Ozon. France, 2012, 105 minutes).

in_the_house (1)This emotionally complex and masterful tale adapted from Juan Mayragoa’s play The Boy in the Last Row, stories a neurotic French teacher and an intriguing high school student, whose healthy dose of curiosity blurs the lines of separating fact from fiction, and the unexpected and uncontrollable unfolds.

Nominated for six 2013 Cesar Awards (including Best Film, and Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay), two big wins at the San Sebastian Film Festival, and winner of the Toronto Film Festival International Critics Award (Fipresci). In the House (Dans la maison) is a mystery thriller written and directed by French director Francois Ozone featuring Kristen Scott Thomas (I’ve Loved You So Long, The English Patient), Fabrice Luchini (Paris, Intimate Strangers) and Emmanuelle Seigner (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Bitter Moon).

In French with English subtitles.

Friday, April 19, 9:00p.m., Embassy of France.


In the Shadow (Director – David Ondricek. Czech Republic/Poland/Slovakia 2012, 106 minutes).

In the Shadow, director David Ondricek’s gorgeous noir investigation, uncovers the elaborate plot by the former Czechoslovakia State Security forces to detain and eliminate Jewish citizens. This is another film in Filmfest DC’s “Trust No One” lineup, and stars Sebastian Koch (The Lives of Others) and Ivan Trojan. Set in Prague in 1953, everyone is hiding something in this absorbing, political intrigue exposing Communist era crime, and was the Czech Republic’s official Oscar submission for Best Foreign Film in 2013 and practically swept the Czech Lion awards including Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor.

In French with English subtitles.

Friday, April 19, 9:00p.m., Embassy of France.


Laurence Anyways (Director – Xavier Dolan. Canada/France, 2012, 168 minutes).

laurence_anyways (1)Actor – Director, Xavier Dolan’s (I Killed My Mother, Heartbeats) third feature Laurence Anyways is more than a feature length music video, but Dolan’s vibrant up tempo soundtrack is a pleasing contribution to this heartfelt, passionate, and tumultuous original drama. What do you do when your boyfriend tells you he wants to be a woman? What follows is a visceral and cerebral confrontation of prejudices, family and friend reactions, and the tested personal matters of the heart that make this an exciting, fresh, unconventional revelation from an emerging and mature voice.

In French with English subtitles.

Wednesday, April 17, 8:45 p.m. Landmark’s E Street Cinema.

Saturday, April 20, 6:00 p.m. Landmark’s E Street Cinema.


Paradise Trilogy

We are surrounded by and live in a world of conflict, and Austrian writer-director Ulrich Seidl’s controversial Paradise trilogy are the latest unsettling trio of films from the acquired taste filmmaker who embraces taboo subjects, perversions, and turmoil. Seidl’s aggravation style of inspiration seem to reflect the search to tell the reality and truth of such situations – or at least the extremes of “truth” as Seidl perceives it. Such revelations have often provoked scandal and a range of emotions, and the Paradise trilogy of Love, Faith and Hope are no exception – even garnering a terse reaction from the Vatican. Seidl’s fascination in ugliness is balanced with his observational humor, surprising honesty, and challenging emotion – skills of a talented autuer with a unique point of view.


Paradise: Love (Director Ulrich Seidl. Austria/Germany/ France, 2012, 120 minutes).

On the beaches of Kenya love is a business. Paradise: Love is the story of a female sex tourist in Africa. The first film in director Seidl’s Paradise trilogy was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film festival, and won the Viennale Austrian Film Awards for Best Film and Best Director.

Note: Explicit Content.

In German with English, and Swahali with English subtitles.

Thursday, April 18, 8:45p.m., Landmark’s E Street.


Paradise: Faith (Director – Ulrich Seidl. Austria/ France/Germany, 2017, 113 minutes).

Paradise: Faith examines the challenge of sexuality, marriage and religion in our most vulnerable times. The second film in director Seidl’s “Paradise” trilogy was nominated for the Golden Lion at the 2012 Venice Film Festival, it won the Special Jury Prize and ‘CinemAvvenire’ Award for Best film in competition there.

In German with English, and Arabic with English subtitles.

Friday, April 19, 9:00p.m., Landmark’s E Street Cinema.


Paradise: Hope (Director – Ulrich Seidl. Austria/ France/ Germany, 2013, 91 minutes).

paradise-_hopeDiet camps, harsh adults, unhappy teens, and the transgressive actions taken when kids no longer abide to the rules and lust and desire take over. Paradise: Hope, the final film in director Seidl’s “Paradise” trilogy, was nominated for the 2012 Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Berlin Bear.

In German with English subtitles.

Wednesday, April17, 6:30p.m., Landmark’s E Street Cinema.

Saturday, April 20, 7:15p.m., Landmark’s E Street Cinema.


Therese Desqueyroux (Director – Claude Miller. France, 2012, 110 minutes).

therese1 (1)Claude Miller (A Secret, Alias Betty, L’effrontée), a personal director favorite, who recently died of cancer in 2012 , directs Audrey Taou in Thérèse Desqueyroux, his final film, as the lead character in this classic French novel adaption of the François Mauriac novel of the same name. Thérèse Desqueyroux is about a 1920’s aristocratic woman with modern ideas who is set up “for the good of the family” in an arranged marriage and soon finds herself unhappily wed, and struggles to break free.

In French with English subtitles.

Friday, April 19, 6:30p.m., Embassy of France.

Saturday, April 20, 9:15p.m., Avalon Theatre.


The Wall (Director – Julian Roman Polsler. Austria/Germany, 2011. 108 minutes).

Starring Martina Gedeck (Baader Meinhoff Complex, Lives of Others, Mostly Martha) and directed by Julian Roman Posler, winner of the Prize of Ecumenical Jury at the 2012 Berlin Film festival, (given to directors who have displayed genuine artistic talent and succeeded in portraying human experiences that sensitizes viewers to spiritual, human or social values), The Wall is a visually lush but sparse drama about a woman who finds herself trapped by an invisible force in an isolated area of the Austrian mountains. Based on the bestselling novel by Marlen Haushofer, the film asks questions about our relationship to nature, animals and ourselves.

In Germany with English.

Saturday, April 20, 4:45p.m., Avalon Theatre.


filmfest logoFilmfest DC runs through April 21, 2013 at various venues. No online, phone, or outlet sales the day of the show. For tickets, visit them online, or contact MissionTix by phone 1-888-996-4774 Monday – Saturday, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Ticket Outlet: The Goethe-Institut-812 7th Street, NW. Open Monday – Thursday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM and Friday: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM.

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Sydney-Chanele Dawkins
Sydney-Chanele Dawkins is an award-winning feature filmmaker, film curator, film festival producer and a theater/film critic and arts writer. She also serves as an impassioned advocate for the Arts as Chair of the Alexandria Commission for the Arts in Alexandria, VA. Fearless. Tenacious. Passionate. Loyal. These characteristics best describe Sydney-Chanele's approach to life, her enthusiasm for live theater and the arts, and her cinephile obsession with world cinema. Her successful first film, 'Modern Love is Automatic' premiered at SXSW in Austin, Texas, and made its European debut at the Edinburgh Film Festival. She recently completed her third film, the animated - 'The Wonderful Woes of Marsh' - which is rounding the film festival circuit. In 2013, Sydney-Chanele produced the box office hit,Neil Simon's Rumors for the McLean Community Players at Alden Theater, Her next producing effort in 2014 is Pearl Cleage's 'Blues for an Alabama Sky' for Port City Playhouse. Programmer for Cinema Art Bethesda and Co Chair of the Film Program for Artomatic, Sydney-Chanele is the past Festival Director of the Alexandria Film Festival, the Reel Independent Film Festival,and Female Shorts & Video Showcase. She is active in leadership and programming positions with DC Metro area Film Festivals including: Filmfest DC, DC Shorts, the Washington Jewish Film Festival, Arabian Sights Film festival, and AFI Docs. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions - [email protected] [Note: Sydney-Chanele Dawkins passed away on July 8, 2015, at age 47, after a battle with Breast Cancer.]


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