Doc Roundup DC

Film Name Venue Dates Description
Detropia West End Cinema Currently Playing Detroit’s story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century: the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos. With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, DETROPIA sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution.
Kumare West End Cinema Currently Playing A provocative social experiment-turned-documentary, KUMARE follows American filmmaker Vikram Gandhi as he transforms himself into a wise Indian guru, hoping to prove the absurdity of blind faith. Instead, he finds himself forging profound connections with people from all walks of life — and wondering if and when to reveal his true self. Will his followers accept his final teaching? Can this illusion reveal a greater spiritual truth?
Samsara Landmark E Street Currently Playing Samsara is a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life” and it is the point of departure for filmmakers Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson (Baraka) as they search for the elusive current of interconnection that runs through our lives. Made over a four-year period in twenty-five countries on five continents, Samsara transports us via stunning cinematography to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders.
Switch Landmark E Street Currently Playing Explores the transition from the energies that built our world to the energies that will power our future. Dr. Scott Tinker explores the world’s leading energy sites, from coal to solar, oil to biofuels, many highly restricted and never before seen on film. He gets straight answers from the people driving energy today, international leaders of government, industry and academia. In the end, he cuts through the confusion to discover a path to our future that is surprising and remarkably pragmatic.
They Call It Myanmar AFI Silver Currently Playing Shot clandestinely over a two-year period , this film provides a rare look at the second-most isolated country on the planet. It lifts the curtain to expose the everyday life in a country that has been held in the iron grip of a brutal military regime for 48 years. Interviews and interactions with more than 100 people throughout Burma, including an interview with the recently released Aung San Suu Kyi, are interwoven with spectacular footage of this little-seen nation and its people.
Queen of Versailles Landmark Bethesda Row Currently Playing A character-driven documentary about a billionaire family and their financial challenges in the wake of the economic crisis. With the epic dimensions of a Shakespearean tragedy, The Queen of Versailles follows Jackie and David’s rags-to-riches story to uncover the innate virtues and flaws of the American dream. The story hinges on their construction of the biggest house in America, a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot mansion inspired by Versailles.
The Imposter Landmark E Street Currently Playing Documentary meets film noir in the riveting jaw-dropper The Imposter, a true story which has the twists and turns of a thriller. In 1994 a 13-year-old boy disappears without a trace from San Antonio, Texas. Three and a half years later he is found alive, thousands of miles away in a village in southern Spain with a story of kidnap and torture. His family is overjoyed to bring him home. But all is not quite as it seems. The boy bears many of the same distinguishing marks he always had, but why does he now have a strange accent? Why does he look so different? And why doesn’t the family seem to notice these glaring inconsistencies?
Reportero Wilson Center, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, 1300 Penn Ave, 6th Floor 9/14, 4pm Follows a veteran reporter and his colleagues at Zeta, a Tijuana-based independent newsweekly, as they stubbornly ply their trade in one of the deadliest places in the world for members of the media. As the drug war intensifies and the risks to journalists become greater, will the free press be silenced? RSVP here
Eastern Landscape and A Place In Berlin Goethe-Institut Washington 9/17, 6:30pm Two films in the series Berlin: City of Reinvention. The first is a short from 1991 looking at a dump that filled up as East German’s shed their former lives after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The second film is an experimental documentary from 2001 about the changes in meaning of the Marx-Engels-Forum in central Berlin.
Proud To Be Cape Verdean BloomBars 9/18, 7pm This film captures the essence of the Cape Verdean culture in California through an insightful look at individuals and organizations and their desire to maintain their cultural identity.
Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment National Archives, William McGowan Theater 9/19, noon A landmark in American documentary films, Robert Drew’s cinema verite work chronicles how President John F. Kennedy, along with his brother Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, clashed with Alabama Governor George Wallace over racial integration at the University of Alabama in 1963.
In The Shadow of Memory: Legacies of Lidice Library of Congress, Mary Pickford Theater 9/19, noon In 1942, Nazis destroyed the innocent Czech village of Lidice, killing all the men of the town and sending the women and children to concentration camps to avenge the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, a mastermind of Nazi genocide. Producer Jerri Zbiral explores the ongoing effects, the legacy of tragedy, and its relevance to today as she follows her mother and others who survived back to the site of the massacre.
My Neighbourhood West End Cinema 9/19, 7pm The story of Mohammed Al Kurd, a Palestinian teenager growing up in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in the heart of East Jerusalem. When Mohammed turns 11, his family is forced to give up part of their home to Israeli settlers, who are leading a campaign of court-sanctioned evictions to guarantee Jewish control of the area. Mohammed’s family and other residents protest against the evictions and they are joined by scores of Israeli supporters who are horrified to see what is being done in their name.
Step Up To The Plate Landmark E Street OPENS 9/21 A captivating documentary about tradition, creativity, and one of the most important transitions in the food world. French chef Michel Bras has won many awards, including three Michelin stars (one of only 106 restaurants in the world). In 2009, he handed over his legendary restaurant to his son Sebastien. Having worked with his father for fifteen years, Seba is ready. But it’s not easy to take over the family business when your father is a world-renowned master in his field. Seba’s connection to the land is revealed in the gorgeous cinematography and the food he creates.
The Apple Pushers Artisphere 9/21, 8pm The Apple Pushers, narrated by Academy Award nominee Edward Norton, follows immigrant street vendors who are rolling fresh fruits and vegetables into the inner cities of New York (where finding a fresh red ripe apple can be a serious challenge). Through the lens of their powerful and deeply personal stories, the film examines such hot-button issues as food access, the obesity crisis, immigration, entrepreneurship and what it really takes to achieve the American Dream.
La Camioneta: The Journey of One American School Bus AFI Silver 9/22, 1pm and 9/24, 5pm The incredible journey of a decommissioned Pennsylvania school bus as it makes its way through Mexico and into Guatemala, where it will be retooled, repainted and rebooted as a brightly colored camioneta, a privately owned public transport bus. But this friendly beacon to travelers also attracts the unwanted attention of extortion-minded gangs, meaning the hard-working camioneta drivers have taken on a surprisingly dangerous job. Part of Latin American Film Festival.
Truth of the Lakota on Pine Ridge Reservation BloomBars 9/25, 7pm From 1980 to 2000, the counties of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota were the poorest in the nation. The Truth of the Lakota is a documentary which reveals the past, present, and future of one of the most neglected communities in the Western world, one beset by social problems, which have been worsened by political neglect and corruption. The present and the future of Pine Ridge are found in the activists who are documenting injustices and promoting international policies for the betterment of all oppressed indigenous peoples.
Battle For Brooklyn West End Cinema 9/25, 7pm An intensely intimate look at the fight waged by owners and residents facing condemnation of their property to make way for the controversial Atlantic Yards project, a massive plan to build sixteen skyscrapers and a basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets in the heart of Brooklyn. A character-driven verite shot over seven years, Battle For Brooklyn is an epic tale of how far people will go to fight for what they believe in.
Give Up Tomorrow Katzen Arts Center (AU) 9/27, 5:30pm Over a decade ago, Paco was accused of murdering two young immigrant women. He has plead innocent to these accusations throughout his trial and sentencing. Now on death row, he faces lethal injection if the courts do not overturn the ruling. Filmmakers Michael Collins and Marty Syjuco capture the emotion and drama that unfolds in this award-winning film that raises issues of political power, capital punishment, the media’s role in public trials and racial and class divides in the Philippines and around the world. Part of Human Rights Film Series.
John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963 National Archives, William McGowan Theater 9/27, 7pm Charles Guggenheim’s biography, filmed with the help of the Kennedy family and historians, illuminates JFK’s childhood along with his heroism in World War II, service as a Congressman and Senator, and his determination to win the presidency. It is an invaluable and intimate portrait of a president who was determined not to accept the future, but to make it.
Me @ The Zoo Hirshhorn Museum 9/27, 8pm Video blogger Chris Crocker became Internet famous as a Britney Spears apologist. Posted in 2007, LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE! has since garnered more than 44 million views. Crocker’s subsequent efforts have not, however, brought him the renown currently enjoyed by, say, Carly Rae Jepsen or Lana Del Ray, not to mention the sustained fame of any number of especially agile cats. This documentary is a morality tale for ambitious digital natives.
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel Avalon Theatre OPENS 9/28 During Diana Vreeland’s fifty year reign as the “Empress of Fashion,” she launched Twiggy, advised Jackie Onassis, and established countless trends that have withstood the test of time. She was the fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar before becoming editor-in-chief of Vogue, followed by a remarkable stint at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, where she helped popularize its historical collections.
How To Survive A Plague Landmark E Street OPENS 9/28 The activist group ACT UP, largely made up of HIV-positive participants who refused to die without a fight, took on the challenges that public officials had ignored, raising awareness of AIDS through a series of dramatic protests. More remarkably, they became recognized experts in virology, biology, and pharmaceutical chemistry. Their efforts would see them seize the reins of federal policy from the FDA and NIH, force the AIDS conversation into the 1992 presidential election, and guide the way to the discovery of effective AIDS drugs that stopped an HIV diagnosis from being an automatic death sentence, and allowed them to live long lives.
Tomorrow We Will See National Geographic 9/28, 7:30pm Over the past several decades, conflict has erupted in Lebanon sporadically. Soraya Umewaka’s film portrays the working lives of ten artists whose creativity and passion help contribute to this cultural renaissance that is helping to change Lebanon, specifically the capital city of Beirut. Part of All Roads Film Festival.
Tropicalia AFI Silver 9/28, 10pm, and 9/30, 7pm “What was the message we were sending to everyone? Be free! And that was extremely subversive at the time.” Tropicalia was a relatively short-lived but hugely influential movement in Brazilian arts and music during the late 1960s. This playfully expressionistic documentary delves deep into the Tropicalia story, including amazing archival footage of Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes, Maria Bethania, Gal Costa, Elis Regina, Tom Ze, and Jorge Ben Jor, among many others. Part of Latin American Film Festival.
Encounters National Geographic 9/29, 1:30pm In the deep wilderness, a trail once used for trading among First Nations people remains almost untouched. Over the course of 21 days, a group of youth from the Innu and Huron-Wendat First Nations of Canada will follow the trail to Quebec City, sharing the journey with a group of white Quebecois. While the motives they have for participating in the trek vary from person to person, together they will learn things about themselves they never thought about before. Part of All Roads Film Festival.
Bridge the Gap to Pine Ridge National Geographic 9/29, 4pm Brash young filmmaker Chris Bashinelli arrives at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota with a preconceived notion of a community filled with poverty and alienation. Instead, he finds amazing stories of hope and inspiration.
El Medico: The Cubaton Story AFI Silver 9/29, 11:30am, and 10/4, 9:45pm Communism and capitalism clash in this multifaceted music doc, alternately thoughtful and thumping. Cuban doctor Raynier Casamayor Grinan, who raps as El Medico, and his European music producer Michel Miglis fight over the way to the top of the Cubaton music scene. El Medico, the son of a Cuban revolutionary, views his music as an authentic expression of his culture and history, while Michel sees him as a product ready for export. After a hit single, El Medico must choose between chasing international music stardom or continuing his vital work as a rural medical practitioner. Part of Latin American Film Festival.
Chanchona: The Music of the Soul AFI Silver 9/30, 11am Named for the heavy upright bass that anchors its combos, chanchona is a musical tradition handed down through generations in the mountainous villages of eastern El Salvador. Los Hermanos Lovo, a popular group in El Salvador, immigrated to the Washington, DC, area in the late 1990s, finding an eager audience here for their traditional musical stylings. Local filmmaker Tomas Guevara follows the band members both at home and abroad as they prepare for their performance at the 2009 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Part of Latin American Film Festival.
Lone Samaritan National Geographic 9/30, 1pm A stubborn father is forced into the modern world when his celebrity daughter abandons their reclusive Samaritan sect in this touching family journey about belonging, faith and identity. Part of All Roads Film Festival.
The Well: Water Voices From Ethipoia National Geographic 9/30, 3:30pm Each year, when the dry season reaches its peak in Southern Ethiopia, the Borana herders gather with their livestock around their ancient wells, known as “singing wells.” Young shepherds form human chains, allowing them to reach the depths of the well and bring up the water. Their hard work is accompanied by a song which seems to draw the great herds as they slowly come near, after days of walking across a drought-ridden land.
Esperanza AFI Silver 9/30, 9pm Sylvie Moreaux and Enrique Carballido’s documentary on Paraguayan artists’ response and resistance to Alfredo Stroessner’s dictatorship profiles some 37 painters, poets, sculptors, songwriters, dancers and dramatists, who over the course of 35 years continued to create and exercise their artistic freedom —even in the face of torture and imprisonment. An inspiring and illuminating window into the history and culture of a country too little understood in the U.S. Part of Latin American Film Festival.
1/2 Revolution Katzen Arts Center (AU) 10/4, 5:30pm When the people took to the streets of downtown Cairo in 2011, Omar and Karim saw a story unfolding before their eyes. Accomplished filmmakers, they picked up their cameras and recorded the events of the Egyptian Revolution as they happened. The narration of the film blends their own voices and conversations with audio from the streets in a film that tells the story of onlya few weeks and asks questions that will be considered for decades. Part of Human Rights Film Series.
Escape Fire: The Fight To Rescue American Healthcare West End Cinema OPENS 10/5 Tackling one of the most pressing issues of our time, how we can save our badly broken healthcare system, ESCAPE FIRE presents attainable solutions. After decades of resistance, a movement to bring innovative high-touch, low-cost methods of prevention and healing into our high-tech, costly system is finally gaining ground. Interweaving dramatic personal arcs of patients and physicians with the stories of leaders battling to transform healthcare at the highest levels of medicine, industry, government, and even the U.S. military. ESCAPE FIRE is about finding a way out of our current crisis. It’s a primer on how to save the health of a nation.
Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful Meyer Auditorium, Freer Gallery of Art 10/5, 7pm Throwing thousands of years of tradition to the wind, Keiko Fukuda chose to follow her own destiny and become the highest-ranking woman in judo. This documentary tells the inspirational story of Fukuda’s lifelong journey, spanning four continents, nine decades, and two distinct cultures to overcome adversity and ultimately transform into a living legend. Today, at 99, Fukuda holds the highest rank available in judo, the tenth degree. She also continues teaching judo three days a week from her San Francisco dojo and is the last living link to judo’s origins.
Upcoming Film Festivals Around Town
DC Shorts various venues 9/6-9/16 The DC Shorts Film Festival and Screenplay Competition is the largest short film event on the East Coast. In our 9th year, we are showing 140 films from 27 nations – and expect hundreds of filmmakers and thousands of audience members to mix, mingle and explore the art of short cinema.
Latin American Film Fest AFI Silver 9/20 – 10/10 Now in its 23rd year, the AFI Latin American Film Festival showcases the best filmmaking from Latin America and, with the inclusion of films from Spain and Portugal, celebrates Ibero-American cultural connections. This year’s selection of 50 films makes it the biggest festival yet, and includes international festival favorites, award-winners, local box-office hits and debut works by promising new talents.
All Roads Film Festival National Geographic 9/27 – 9/30 The 8th annual All Roads Film Festival, featuring stories and talent from vibrant and diverse cultures. Part of the National Geographic All Roads Film Project.
Author: Matthew Radcliff on November 11, 2011

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