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Filmfest DC


Filmfest DC

Landmark's E Street Cinema
555 11th Street NW
Washington, US 20004

April 19, 2023 -- April 30, 2023


Welcome to the 2023 Washington, DC International Film Festival!

Filmfest DC is back! Join us in Washington from April 19 to 30 for a celebration of the cinematic art, including several new French films! 

Our Brothers — Nos Frangins

Rachid Bouchareb 
France, 2022 
92 minutes, Color

  • Friday, April 21, 6:05 PM
  • Sunday, April 23, 7:35 PM

On a Saturday night in December 1986, Paris’s Latin Quarter teems with protesting students and baton-happy cops following the passage of an infamous education reform bill. Meanwhile, the bodies of two young men lie unclaimed in the morgue. For now, only a kindly morgue attendant will “say their names.” Within days, both names—Malik Oussekine and Abdel Benyahia—resonate as causes célèbres in this film based on the true story of two lives cut short by unrelated police violence on the same night. Each of these children of immigrants was striving to be part of French society In a fast-paced yet thoughtful narrative, director Rachid Bouchareb weaves two families’ searches for their sons with the intricate machinations of a police coverup. The crisscrossing thread in this weave is the motorcycle cops themselves, menacing posses that were ubiquitous in Paris at the time. It’s when they dismount that trouble begins. —Judy Bloch



The Origin of Evil — L’origine du mal

Sébastien Marnier 
France, 2022 
125 minutes, Color

  • Friday, April 21, 8:30 PM
  • Thursday, April 27, 8:00 PM 

When the French get their Knives Out, things get haute. In this mystery-thriller, Stéphane (Laure Calamy) works in a sardine-packing factory and in her off hours visits her girlfriend in prison. La vie en rose it’s not. Stéphane reaches out to Serge, the father she never met, and the luxurious world he offers. What’s to be made of Serge’s family, including his compulsively acquisitive Bette Davis–like wife and his understandably suspicious older daughter and business scion, Georges (Serge clearly wanted boys)? Soon something starts to smell fishy: Is it Stéphane, straight from the sardine-packing factory, or is it that her newfound patriarch is beginning to exhibit the true couleurs of his class? It takes the family’s youngest member to warn her new aunt, “Family is a contamination.” Director Sébastien Marnier indulges himself with split-screen arrays and delicious mystery tropes like fly-eating plants and nose-bleeding maids. You should, too. —Judy Bloch


Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

France, Luxembourg, Canada, Netherlands, 2022 
110 minutes, Color

  • Saturday, April 22, 6:20 PM 

Based on the short story collection by Japanese author Haruki Murakami, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman is a beautifully animated film set in Tokyo just after the devastating 2011 tsunami. Throughout its seven chapters, we follow three main characters: married couple Hiroshi and Kyoko and a lonely bank worker, Mr. Katagiri. At the beginning of the film, all three are in a state of stagnation. That situation changes with an unexpected departure and an even more unexpected arrival (in the form of a giant talking frog). From here, the story spirals into separate tales of dreams, sad realities, interesting dialogue, and imagination. All the components work together seamlessly, complementing each other on almost every turn. First-time feature director and composer Pierre Földes deftly combines his roles. —Dublin International Film Festival


The (In)Famous Youssef Salem — Youssef Salem a du succès

Baya Kasmi
France, 2022 
97 minutes, Color

  • Saturday, April 22, 8:20 PM
  • Saturday, April 29, 6:00 PM

In this entertaining comedy, Youssef Salem is a previously unsuccessful Maghrebi novelist whose new book, Toxic Shock, becomes an unexpected hit and is shortlisted for the Goncourt, France’s most coveted literary honor. Overnight, Youssef transforms from eternal loser to the most talked-about best-selling author in Paris. Distraught by the surprising success of his novel in which he depicts the failings of his family in a thinly veiled way, he goes to great lengths to prevent his parents from reading it. Youssef has to face the true price of success for the first time as he struggles with the fallout precipitated by the achievement of his dream and the weight of his family’s and community’s judgment. Despite its humorous theme, the film provides rich reflection on the serious matter of family ties, immigration, culture, and literature. —Various sources


Revoir Paris

Alice Winocour
France, 2022 
105 minutes, Color

  • Saturday, April 22, 6:00 PM
  • Friday, April 28, 6:15 PM

Mia is a survivor of a terrorist attack in Paris and carries an unhealed emotional scar. A translator by trade, Mia (Virginie Efira, in a marvelously interior, César-award-winning performance) must create a coherent narrative of her experience by piecing together memory fragments of the incident. A film that starts out a deceptively cinematic Paris postcard becomes an intrigue of close-up details: a Monet waterlily; a hand, whose hand? an arm, whose? the face of someone she knows to be dead. This is how Mia re-sees the city now. In her search for answers, Mia reluctantly joins a group of fellow survivors struggling to feel lucky to be alive, including Thomas (Benoît Magimel), wry, bitter, still on crutches, but who just might hold her up. Was he the one who held her hand while they hid together in a closet during the attack? —Judy Bloch


The Sixth Child — Le Sixième Enfant

Léopold Legrand
France, 2022 
92 minutes, Color

  • Saturday, April 22, 6:15 PM
  • Wednesday, April 26, 8:35 PM

Franck and his wife Miriem are Travelers—Romani denizens of a trailer community on the outskirts of Paris. Because they have five children, some already in school, and no money, they don’t “travel”; they just struggle to get by on Franck’s on-and-off scrap metal business. Julien and his wife Anna are attorneys in the city; they have plenty of money, but their struggle is that they can’t have children. When Miriem finds herself pregnant with her sixth child, these two desperate couples strike a deal that one side fears is immoral and the other knows is illegal. In Léopold Legrand’s debut feature, what seems at first like a broad, provocative question of ethics and law narrows down, like an iris-in, to two women’s needs and their conspiracy to meet them. Holding this center are Sara Giraudeau (The Bureau) as Anna and Judith Chemla (A Woman’s Life, Spiral) as Miriem. —Judy Bloch



Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar 
France, 2022 
110 minutes, Color

  • Saturday, April 22, 4:00 PM
  • Thursday, April 27, 8:25 PM

Based on the lives and careers of twin sisters Zahia and Fettouma Ziouani (Oulaya Amamra and Lina El Arabi, respectively), who created the celebrated Divertimento Orchestra, director Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar’s inspiring film offers delightful insights into the musical mind and a compelling story of young women defying the odds—and society—to live their dreams. That the girls are immigrants from the lower-class suburbs of Paris is only one of the hurdles to overcome. In that supposedly sophisticated city, Zahia must struggle for respect and even the opportunity to follow her passion. When she finally gets the chance to meet her idol, the celebrated conductor Sergiu Celibidache (Niels Arestrup), he tells her “conducting isn’t for women.” Meanwhile, Fettouma’s teacher denies her a coveted award she clearly deserves. The two young women struggle to bring music to people normally denied its charms. Their perseverance yields an uplifting experience for viewers. —Dave Nuttycombe


The Pod Generation 

Belgium, France, USA, 2022 
109 minutes, Color

  • Sunday, April 23, 5:30 PM
  • Saturday, April 29, 6:15 PM

A New York couple, Rachel (Emilia Clarke) and Alvy (Chiwetel Ejiofor), live in a not-so-distant future where technology provides ever-more convenient living. A rising tech company executive, Rachel lands a coveted spot at the Womb Center, which offers couples a convenient maternity by way of detachable artificial wombs, or pods. A social satire of detachment parenting, Sophie Barthes’ third feature delves into the fraught, comedically tantalizing relationship between technology, nature, and society. In her imaginative world, AIs make coffee, print toast, track productivity, and measure people’s “bliss index.” But at what cost? Even nature is no longer natural; there are “nature pods.” Barthes brings a funny, philosophical sensibility to her questioning of society’s giddy pursuit of convenience, tech’s intrusion in our lives, womb envy, and the commodification of…everything. —Sundance Film Festival


On the Edge — Entre la vie et la mort

Belgium, France, Spain, 2022 
100 minutes, Color

  • Wednesday, April 26, 6:00 PM
  • Thursday, April 27, 8:05 PM

In this thrilling game of cat and mouse, Leo Castañeda (Antonio de la Torre) is a Spanish metro driver living in Brussels. During his shift one evening, his eyes meet those of a young man on the platform who has a familiar face. Leo recognizes his son, Hugo, just as he falls onto the rails and later dies at the hospital. Leo had not seen his son for years. In his attempt to try to understand the reasons behind his death, Leo will discover that Hugo was involved in a bloody heist. Leo sets off to track down the criminals responsible for the murder under the watchful eye of the police, who are also investigating the robbery. They will soon discover that Leo’s skills in tracking and apprehending violent criminals are not those of a mere metro driver. —Various sources


Filmmakers for the Prosecution

Jean-Christophe Klotz 
USA, France, 2022 
58 minutes, Color and Black & White

  • Thursday, April 27, 6:05 PM
  • Saturday, April 29, 8:15 pm 

When WWII ended it wasn’t over for two young veterans, the Hollywood screenwriting brothers Budd and Stuart Schulberg. The Nuremberg trial was pending, and they were handed the mission to hunt down and compile the countless films and photographs of rallies and atrocities that the Nazis, in their insatiable vanity, left in their wake. It was the prosecuting judge’s inspiration to use the defendants’ own documented words and actions to damn the high-ranking Nazi officials on trial. In the courtroom, history met film history: The movie screen took center stage, even displacing the judge. We know about “the arrogance and cruelty of power” that was put on trial at Nuremberg; it’s still out there, as Nazi-hunter Eli Rosenbaum notes. This engrossing film takes us back to the moment when the images the Schulbergs corralled were new to people’s eyes and had the power to convict. —Judy Bloch

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