"And the Winner Is ..." The 24th Edition
What Happens in LA, Happens in DC
By Charles Kirkland, Jr.
On February 28, 2016, the DC Film Society hosted the 24th Edition of “And The Winner Is…,” the annual Oscars viewing party to watch the 88th Academy Awards LIVE on the big screen at the Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse. There was a palpable tension in the air as the upcoming festivities held many questions. Is Oscar So White? What will Oscar host, Chris Rock say in his monologue? How long is this going to be? Who is Travis Hopson?
Travis Hopson, film critic known for his presence on WBAL Morning News and WETA Around Town and founder of the Punch Drunk Critics website, arrived for the evening outfitted in an exquisite tuxedo (surely under the influence of Tim Gordon) and was welcomed by DC Film Society Director, Michael Kyrioglou as the new co-host for the evening. Hopson and Gordon became the first co-host team for the Oscars party since the passing of our beloved Bill Henry.
Once the show started, the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse attendees shared in an almost identical Oscar experience as those who were in the Dolby Theater in Hollywood. Chris Rock gave his brave and controversial monologue (Jada wasn’t invited? Too funny!) and Travis Hopson controversially picked against “Spotlight” as the Best Picture. The Oscar telecast suffered from audio difficulties and so did the Drafthouse. There were a couple of awkward reads by presenters and Tim Gordon awkwardly read a promo for the “Tweet of the Night” contest. Everyone shared in the shock and surprise when Lady Gaga lost to Sam Smith after delivering a powerful and emotional performance of “Til It Happens to You.” In his speech Smith stated that he was the first openly gay Oscar winner (don’t know if it’s true but it sounded good).
Things seemed to settle into a groove as the night continued on in Arlington. The Film Society Director announced the names of the winners of the annual silent auction where winners received DVD sets, signed posters and press releases and movie and festival tickets among other outstanding and memorable items. There were more giveaways during the night as a number of relatively easy trivia questions were served up. Trivia winners got their pick of DVDs from Straight Outta Compton, Fast 7 and Mad Max: Fury Road.
The highlights of the evenings telecast were the six technical awards for Mad Max, Mark Rylance’s big upset win of the Best Supporting Actor over Sylvester Stallone and Emmanuel Lubezki winning an unprecedented third Best Cinematography Oscar in a row. Even Alejandro Inarritu becoming only the third person to win his second Best Director Oscar in a row was a great story. But the BIGGEST story of the night might have been Leonardo DiCaprio finally winning his first Oscar for Best Actor for his outstanding performance in The Revenant. Congrats to all the winners including David Driscoll who won the Tweet of the Night contest and a couple of other prizes for answering trivia questions and for having his raffle ticket drawn.
There were a few memorable moments from the show. Chris Rock sold Girl Scout cookies. Longtime friend of Chris Rock, Louis CK delivered a riotously hilarious introduction to the Best Documentary Short Film award and at the same time became a front runner in the pool for potential upcoming host. It was unclear whether his speech was scripted or off the cuff but it was almost as great as seeing that super cute Jacob Tremblay from Room. Tremblay did not win anything, he wasn’t even nominated but he was everywhere! The hardest working man in the movie business right now, Kevin Hart delivered a great speech about overcoming racism in Hollywood and then showed off his sparkly suit.
Once again, the members of the DC Film Society showed their knowledge of all things Oscar. In the “Best of 2016” poll results on their website, six of the top seven winners were correctly chosen. The only difference was the Society poll picked Tom McCarthy as the Best Director for Spotlight. Because of the Best Original Song upset, amazingly, only three people correctly picked the six categories in the night “Predict the Winners” contest.
Michael closed the evening with an expression of appreciation to the hosts, the house, Film Society staff and especially to all of the attendees (of whom more than 80% were first timers!). It was another great night for all!
The Washington DC Film Society would like to express special thanks to Allied THA, Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse, Filmfest DC, PR Collaborative, Women in Film & Video, Tim Gordon and Travis Hopson. Thank you to our Silent Auction Donors: AFI Silver Theatre, Allied THA, Arabian Sights Film Festival, Arena Stage, Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse, Avalon Theatre, Capitol Fringe, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, DC Shorts, Environmental Film Festival, DC Film Society, Folger Theatre, Landmark Theatres and E Street Cinema, Metrostage, New Wave at the Promenade, The Phillips Collection, PR Collaborative, Round House Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Source Festival/Cultural DC, Strathmore, Studio Theatre, Synetic Theater, Washington Performing Arts Society, West End Cinema, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. Finally, we would like to thank the following Coordinating Committee members who have volunteered their time and talents to this event and to the DC Film Society all year round. THANK YOU! Director: Michael Kyrioglou, Associate Director: Jim Shippey, Coordinating Committee and volunteers: Billy Coulter, Cheryl Dixon, Cheryl Fine, Raiford Gaffney, Anita Glick, Annette Graham, Larry Hart, Judith Hellerstein, Charles Kirkland, Jr., Laura Koschny, Stephen Marshall, Deborah Martin, Eugenia Park, Ken Rosenberg, Adam Spector, and Gene St. Hilaire. See you and your friends next year!
Eye in the Sky: Q&A With Director Gavin Hood and General Paul Eaton
By Annette Graham, DC Film Society Member
On March 7 a preview screening of Eye in the Sky was shown at Landmark's E Street Cinema. This is the third drone movie we have seen in the past three years. Helen Mirren stars as a colonel in charge of a drone operation keeping an eye on terrorists in Kenya. Learning that some well-known terrorists will be in a house, her mission is "to capture, not to kill." But when it's seen that a suicide mission is imminent the situation is changed. After the film, audience members asked questions of director Gavin Hood and General Paul Eaton. The discussion was moderated by Defense One's Technology Editor Patrick Tucker. Also a small experimental drone was demonstrated. This Q&A has been edited and condensed.
Patrick Tucker: One of the key elements in the film is an important decision that all characters are faced with. Who here is familiar with the trolley problem? [A few people raised their hands.] The trolley problem is a psychological construct first proposed by Philippa Foot in 1967. The premise is: Ask yourself this question--imagine that you have five people stuck on a train track and a trolley is speeding towards them. You can pull a lever and divert the train and then the train will strike only one person. Do you pull the lever, divert the train, strike the one person and spare the five? When asked this 89% of people say yes, they would pull the lever, divert the train, hit the one and save the five. When you modify that problem a little bit and instead of just pulling the lever you actually have to push a person onto the track, only 11 people will elect to do that. That's fascinating. In the situation you set up, the drone operator is in charge of actually pushing the person, and everyone else in the movie is just pulling the lever. How did you approach that problem? Has your own point on this changed as you examined the problem from the perspective of different characters?
Gavin Hood: I was a lawyer in one my strange previous lives and this is one of the questions law students are asked in classes. It's one thing to pull a lever, divert a train and kill one and it's another to put your hands on another human being and push them off the bridge in front of the train. You're still trading one life for five. Why does it feel so different? And if you still say you would do one for five, would YOU jump off the bridge in front of the train and save five? You wouldn't? The point of this thought experiment is simply to demonstrate that if you change the facts slightly you can have a very different outcome. And therefore it is absolutely imperative that you really consider the particular problem before you start talking in generalizations. And the reason that's so interesting in this movie is because there is a tremendous debate about them. Are drones good or are drones bad? One thing I liked about Guy Hibbert's script when I read it, is that he presented a particular scenario from multiple points of view. At moments when I was reading the script I thought I knew what I would do. And then I turn a page and suddenly wonder if I was really sure what I would do. But the point of your question is this: If you would pull the trigger and take an innocent life (and there's no right answer to this) to save potentially 80 lives. Or you could change the numbers, make it 40. It's an impossible game to play. So then the question becomes, can we draw any general principles from this? There are many people who are promoting drones and there is not one view in the military. What I love about talking to people in the military is that there is actually a democratic process and exchange of ideas going on. But there are some in the military who say, "These drones are the latest and greatest, they're pinpoint accurate, they will take out a target with great precision and this is what we should be backing and this will solve our problem." At every stage in the evolution of warfare there's been some new technological events. At first we fought on the battlefield with spears and then someone invents the longbow and people say, "That's not cricket. You can't be shooting me from over that. That's just not done." The point is that the drone is a new technological weapon and we should not confuse the weapon that can be used tactically for certain things with an overall strategy. So what I want to say about the script is I don't want anyone to think that we are presenting a scenario that applies to all drones, all operations. This is a particular operation with a particular set of facts that we deliberaltey created in order to generate conversations about many things, whether propaganda, blowback effect, what is the effect on drone pilots--to try to demystify drone warfare a little for our audience. But not to tell you what to think.
Patrick Tucker: How can we make this decision a little bit better? Are we empowered by technology to do this?
General Paul Eaton: Before the wall came down, warfare was virtually linear. There was no real decision making apparatus to declare a shoot or no-shoot. The enemy was clearly defined, and instructions were very clear. When the wall came down, we then went to a battlefield that was not linear and at the same time we had this very rapid growth in technology that delivered weapon systems. In the military, our tactics, techniques and procedures, our doctrine are always a step behind industry delivering a new weapon. So you deliver a new weapon and we in the military try to figure out how best to employ that weapon. Our guiding principles are rules of engagement. Rules of engagement during the Cold War, during the defense of NATO countries was very simple. Rules of engagement today, we have so many examples where warfare is not clearly defined and where the enemy is not clearly known.
Audience Question: We know of many actual real world cases where the target was not identified, where the target could have easily been captured and where the target was not any imminent threat of mass murder. Do you know a single real world case where all three of these conditions as in this fictional case, was met?
Gavin Hood: It's an outstanding question. I'm not going to pretend that I can give you a scenario exactly the same as in the film. The purpose of the film is to generate exactly that conversation. There are enough military people dealing with suicide bombing cases. In this particular scenario there is a certain moment in the movie where Col. Powell feels she can get a yes to strike. The undersecretary of state for Africa, the woman in COBRA says, "I still don't want to strike." She makes the argument that she would rather that terrorists kill the 80 people and be blamed for that attack than that our forces killed one innocent person. So this is a Trojan Horse film. I present the argument that this can never happen. This is the scenario that people try to promote in order to use drones. I would argue that let's have the conversation. The question that comes up is--Should we use it? What do you think the father of that child is going to think of us? What is the greater strategy? What is the strategy? The weapon is a tactic in a perfect scenario like this, it may be useful. But in many many other scenarios, if you take the life of an innocent person, even in this perfect scenario, should we take that innocent life? Even in a so-called perfect scenario what are the long term implications? What do you think that local community is going to think of us? In this scenario were we right to use this weapon? Are we a police force? We are the intersection of warfare and police.
Audience Question: How do you see the role of the lawyer?
General Paul Eaton: Lawyers are by nature conservative because their role is to keep everyone out of trouble [war crimes]. You write the rules of engagement and you have the legal system and your lawyers validate that you got it right. And when you say rules of engagement, that is when to pull the trigger, be it from a drone or from a rifle. In Somalia years ago we had a problem. In 1992, 1993 we were there to bring order to a problematic country. One of the engagments we had was war lords putting women and children in front of their formation, advancing on a US formation. Shoot or no shoot? It's a terrible dilemma for the US forces. You then go through the decision cycle of--What am I going to gain by engaging, because you are definitely going to have innocent casualties if you engage. But if the American force can retire from the battlefield without shooting, if they are not going to be taken under attack and if their mission is not going to be compromised, if they are not going to have to surrender another vulnerable force, to what's advancing, then you can retire without killing innocents. But it's the decision cycle that you go through. We play scenarios, we wargame the what-ifs of the world. Again, the point of the film, it is a scenario. I think this film ought to be seen by everybody in the National Security complex of the US--certainly in State, certainly in Defense, and certainly in the National Security Council. Because it presents the dilemma of what is the right answer, short term gain with possible long term loss which is what's going on with drone war in Pakistan. We are making decisions that achieve short term gains and sometimes long term gains, but frequently short term gains and long term losses as we destroy innocents. In the words of one division commander in Iraq to his men at the end of every day: "Did you create more insurgents today than you took off the battlefield?" And that's the question.
Audience Question: Air Force is starting to hire private contractors to fly some drone flights, they're limiting it at the moment to intelligence flights. Your thoughts on ethical concerns, i.e. outsourcing military strikes to contractors?
Gavin Hood: It's very worrying. There's the argument that you should go back to the draft. Many in the military would hate that. I'm not suggesting you would like that or that it is a good thing. When you have a draft, like in the Vietnam War, the population says, "Is this something I really want to be involved in?" Right now we have a military that consists of a tiny percentage of the whole population. When we outsource this to contractors, the more you remove the direct participation of your democratic society in the decision to go to war. I don't have a good answer. I know why it's happening, it's the same reason why drone forces is the best idea. Our forces aren't injured. If our forces don't have something to lose, is there a danger of us going to war more easily? Because the stakes are not the same for us. And if we go to war easily, do we do what the general is saying, where going to war more easily, pulling the trigger more easily, may result ironically in a blowback. I do believe the film talks about that. Here's a scenario: we should pull the trigger. And one of the characters gives you an argument, if you pull the trigger, this is possibly the consequence. So you can't focus on the drone, you have to focus on your strategy. So by the end, an innocent child is dead and what do you think her father is going to feel? And what are all his friends going to feel? So these are not touchy-feeling things. You want to pull the trigger and then you pull the rug out.
Patrick Tucker: Is there something addictive politically about the ability to strike targets from far away that you see as particularly symbolic about how we are going to commit more and more war in the future? How do we preserve that tactical advantage in a way that speaks to how as a military ethic that we should be operating. Is there something politically addictive about drone warfare and what do we do about it?
General Paul Eaton: Violence is a monopoly of the state. Contractors should not be killing. Contractors can do any number of things on the battlefield. They should not be killing. That is a monopoly of the state, that's our policemen and our soldiers. To the draft, my wife would say yes to the draft because all three of her children are soldiers. We believe that burden should be shouldered by the entire USA. If we're going to war, let it be an American decision, rather than a decision imposed on 1% of the US. Painless warfare, I believe, is addictive warfare. If you don't have skin in the game, it's very easy to make a decision. That goes back to the draft question. If you're going to embark upon achieving a foreign policy objective, if you are after an outcome and you are able to use a mechanism that is not going to put an American at risk, that puts the adversary at risk, and the people around the adversary at risk, then I think you go down a path that Andrew Bacevich, a retired colonel, now a professor at Boston University, who wrote a book: Washington Rules. He goes after this ease with which the US embarks upon the use of the military to prosecute foreign policy objectives. Part of that is it bears very few effects to the military and almost no effect to the greater population of the US. So it is seductive; it is addictive.
Audience Question: You mentioned your experience in Somalia. Did you ever have an ethical situation like this? What was your toughest ethical decision?
General Paul Eaton: My experience in Somalia--I was operations officer for army forces in Somalia. My team wrote the rules of engagement, put them before the general and then validated them through the lawyer that we had. That is how we instructed all the US military and those under our command, that when you are presented with a security dilemma, these are the rules by which you are going to operate. And they are pretty simple. If you see a Somali unarmed, no issue. If you see a Somali with a rifle, you are now alerted but you are not to kill him. If you see the Somali deploy his weapon in a way that it appears that he is going to kill you, you are now authorized to kill him. Otherwise it is a detained approach. You realize that the youth of the American military comes in with a robust belief in our values, our Constitution, our way of life. The only thing they lack is life experience. They come in at the age of 18 or 19 and the only thing they don't have is compounded experience. So they're wonderfully bright young men and women. They take what they hear and they question. They what-if and go through their own scenario development. So the rules of engagement are fleshed out. The greatest problem I had in my career was the development of the Iraqi armed forces. It was my mission in 2003 to re-establish the Iraqi army. Trying to work through what is easy for a western democracy-raised man or woman is difficult when you're dealing with a young man who has been raised in a totalitaran society all his life and with all the depredations that Saddam Hussein perpetrated on his own population. That was the greatest challenge we had, on how to inculcate into young Iraqis a western thought process in how to use violence to the correct end.
Audience Question: A few minutes ago you were talking about how the premise of the film is based on thinking about democratic decision, drone potential and how easy it is to police the world. Your film is embedded in a political framework. When do we go to war? There is the story of the camel's nose under tent and then the rest of the camel follows. We are in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Why are we policing everywhere?
Gavin Hood: I agree, We are in seven countries. I don't think we should be there. I don't think we should have gone into Iraq. I think it was a disaster. But that is not what we are asking in this film. The question in this film is simple. Will you or me, trade innocent lives in order to save more innocent lives. That's what this film asks. It's the trolley problem on steriods. It's not should we be in seven countries. Answer me that question. Let's be careful about diving off on our own political hobby horse and not analyzing the moral and ethical question that is presented by this film. I beg you. (audience applauds). Only in Washington DC have I had people discuss some other agenda. What would you do when this fictional situation arises? Will you use this weapon? What is the strategically smart thing to do in this scenario? Should we have invaded Iraq? That's not in this movie. Have we created more terrorists by having a drone program? Absolutely in my view. Do you think kids like living under drones' permanent surveillance? They don't. It's a strategic mess. We've taken a tactical weapon that is capable of looking more accurately than a cruise missile before it pulls the trigger and we've deployed it in a way that is strategically stupid. Do I think the strategy of using a drone with a hellfire missile patrolling a population of people in Pakistan is going to help me win the strategic long term agenda which is to reduce the amount of extremist radical ideology? No, I don't. Will you pull the trigger in order to save potentially more lives and at what point will you? Will you in your moral conscience, at what point will you pull the trigger? Because we are asking young people to do that. Look at the character of Aaron Paul, I would argue that the tapes released by Edward Snowden where we hear air force pilots talking about those people on the ground as bugsplats is a strategic nightmare for winning the long term objective which is to reduce radical ideology and conflict. When pilots talk about bugsplats instead of human beings that is wrong. So is this film a useful discussion with pilots? It's very useful. Because the line that Aaron Paul says in the film, is actually what they are trying to say. As the pilot in command of this weapon, I will not release my weapon until you rerun the CDE. Let's be careful that we don't do what we are all complaining about which is ending up in I'm right, you're wrong, fuck you and you're wrong. So answer me, What would you do? I'll tell you what I'd do. I think that in this particuarly situation, I would dare to say that I would not pull the trigger. I would side with Monica Dolan's character. We are losing the propaganda war. Terrorism is more spread that it has ever been. What are we doing wrong? That's what I was hoping a civil conversation here with you. I'm sick of it honestly. Come on America. I'm not a pacifist.
Eye in the Sky opened in the DC area on March 18.
I Saw the Light: Q&A With Director Marc Abraham and Actor Tom Hiddleston
By Ron Gordner and Annette Graham, DC Film Society Members
On March 29 Landmark's E Street Cinema hosted a screening of I Saw the Light. The film stars Tom Hiddleston as country singer Hank Williams. Director/screenwriter Marc Abraham and actor Tom Hiddleston were present to answer questions. DC Film Society Executive Director Michael Kyrioglou moderated.
Michael Kyrioglou: I saw you do the broadcast of the Coriolanus production at the Donmar Warehouse.
Tom Hiddleston: We live in a great age, because of the technology. It's genuinely astonishing. When we were shooting I Saw the Light in Shreveport, a number of people in Louisiana came up to me and said they saw that production.
Michael Kyrioglou: I bring it up because I'm a fan of the TV and theater work where you've started and I want to talk about that spectrum, what you bring from all that to this something very different. How did you come to this film?
Tom Hiddleston: In so many respects it's foreign territory. Hank Williams is someone who is so far away from my experience. The thing that I discovered quite quickly in the process of making the film, and encountering the character was that Hank innately understood the magic of live performance and he understood that there is no occasion without the audience. If the seats in the house are empty there's no magic. And part of the electricity of his charisma came from this very intense relationship between himself and his audience on stage. Which is what people always attested to, that he was this incredible star. And I've always connected to this as someone who has come up from the theater is that there is something very very pure about the connection between an actor on stage and the audience and I realized that in all of the foreignness and things that were new--the dialect, the singing, the physicality, the southernness of Hank, there was this thing that I understood which is actually about performance and that Marc had written a screenplay about performance, about the tension between the authenticity of the performer and the commercial demand that the show must go on, no matter how tired you are, no matter how tormented your personal life, you've got to get up on that stage, because people have paid good money to see you. And you see that in the scenes that Marc wrote, with his radio boss. He says, "This is a business we're running, asshole" and Hank said, Yes I know." He had such a complex relationship with his boss. He may be Hank Williams, he may be the writer of I'm So Lonesome I could Cry, but there are tickets that have been sold and you have to be on time. So that was something I could relate to, about being a professional.
Michael Kyrioglou: There seems to be a swirl of musical biographies the last few years, the Brian Wilson film last year, [Love and Mercy], Straight Outta Compton, the Nina Simone movie coming up. You're a southern boy, what brought you to this story?
Marc Abraham: I wish there weren't so many. I didn't know when I was writing this; I started five years.ago. They all came out at the same time. Someone should have told me that. I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky which is three hours north of Nashville. And my dad was in the radio business. He was a tough customer and there were a lot of things I wasn't allowed to do. But because he was in the radio business he couldn't tell me I couldn't listen to the radio at night when I was going to bed. And I started out listening to country music. I think the reason country music appealed to me when I was younger was that country music is primarily stories. And rap--I have two 17 year old boys and they are crazy rap fans. And when we talk about it, what it really gets down to, it's storytelling. It's lives being expressed, lives being deciphered and broken down. So I started out listening to country music. Hank came before me but there were guys like George Jones, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, all leading up to the people playing today. But eventually, if you listen to country music, you get back to Hank Williams. Because he's Zeus, he's the Titan. I just became enamored with these stories. And then as I started reading about him, I just thought he had this extraordinary life. That someone could have lived only 29 years, come out of the dirt of Alabama, no explanation for why he was so great. I don't attemept to ever explain why. Sometimes people ask me, "You don't tell us why he is so great." I don't know. If you could tell me why Bob Dylan (or otherwise Bob Zimmerman from Hibbing, Minnesota) whose father ran a furniture store is a genius, I'll explain Hank Williams. But short of that, no. But I was fascinated by the fact that from the age of 22 or 23 he wrote these beautiful songs, these incredibly powerful songs, that Tom was able to bring to life in such a visceral manner and then lived this really extraordinary life with these women in his life, the women who inspired him and caused him pain, who he caused a lot of pain for, and ultimately died at the age of 29. He was only two months into being 29. Billy Jean was 19 when she married him and two months later he's dead. Nine months later she married Johnny Horton.
Michael Kyrioglou: How did you put Tom and Hank in the same equation?
Marc Abraham: You know the old phrase, sometimes it's better to be lucky than smart. I happened to see Tom in War Horse. I didn't know who Tom was at the time. I was just taken by his genuine performance; he's such a compassionate pivotal charcter in the film. His dedication, and also the fact that even though he doesn't look like him [Hank] right now with his glasses on and his blond hair, I could see that he looked a little like Hank Williams, or a lot. [Tom takes off his glasses, audience laughs]. There he is, that's good acting. And so I ultimately saw him and was really intrigued. So I just started doing my research, I read a lot about him and called friends who had worked with him in television shows in Britain. I ultimately got the script to Tom and he responded to it and we began a relationship through Skype and ultimately in peson where we shared a lot of ideas. We really broke it down--we talked about the things we didn't want to do, we attempted to tell the story in the most human possible way and not the wikipedia version. And ultimately we jumped in together and we made a bond. I told him," I don't know where the money's coming from, I don't know how it's going to happen, but if you'll stick with me, I'll stick with you." And he went through all that and stuck by me. And that is easier said than done.
Audience Question: What can you tell us about your musical background. Do you play any instruments?
Tom Hiddleston: I have no formal musical training. As a child I played the trumpet until I was about 12 which I really enjoyed. I was in the brass band in school and we got to play the Indiana Jones theme tune in school [audience laughs]. I noodled around on the piano. My mom and sisters are very musical and had more discipline than I did. Then I picked up a guitar like everyone else at age 14 just to impress girls and it didn't really work. I bought an acoustic guitar for 50 quid and I always noodled around, songs I loved, songs by Bob Dylan--Knockin' on Heaven's Door, Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I learned how to play that stuff and then this came around and I knew I had to get better at it. The interesting thing about Hank is that the music isn't actually that difficult for a guitar player. The rhythm guitar has fairly easy chord progressions. Hank was really a blues singer and most of his songs follow a 1-4-5 chord progression, you start with an open e, your next chord up is an a, and your fifth chord is a B7. Those three chords are quite simple, and you just have to have a facility with the ryhthm. I learned that very specific piece of violin, whick took hours and hours of practice for that specific piece. But I love music; music is a huge part of my life. Now I play the guitar much more, I'm much better at it, and I enjoy it and I'm much more proficient than I was. I did the rhythm guitar playing in this and It was huge fun.
Marc Abraham: Every chord, every line, every bit, nothing but Tom.
Audience Question: Your accent is very impressive. How did you learn it?
Tom Hiddleston: I put a lot of work in, yes. I knew that there was an obligation to be precise about everything to do with Hank, the way he moved, the way he spoke, the way he looked. And I had to be exact about the precision of his specific Alabama drawl. He had his own cadence, his own rhythm really. He had an onstage voice and an offstage voice and I noticed that in his radio recordings and bits from lost concerts that you can find. He was very funny and very quick. It was honestly very difficult. I tried to break it down with a dialogue coach into phonetic sounds with the international phonetic alphabet, just listen to what he says and break down exact vowel sounds and rhythm, but it wasn't helping. The thing that was the key for me was the [Luke] Drifter recordings. When he stands up in De Leon Texas, drunk, and delivers that strange haunting poem about divorce, that's a Luke Drifter poem called Help Me Understand which you can buy and is set to music and is included as part of an album that Hank released. They didn't make any money. That was his pseudonym Luke Drifter, they weren't Hank Williams records, they were L&D records, but he wrote them. When I keyed into his Luke sound, that's when it clicked for me. When I first did it for Marc on the phone he was like, "That's it." It had the tone of a gospel preacher. Which made sense because in all my research I discovered how much Hank loved going to church as a child; he loved singing and he loved singing gospel songs. That kind of sinning on Saturday, redemption on Sunday sermon. [Demonstrates and audience claps]. I kind of clicked into that--that slowing down, speeding up. But it was interesting, just listening over and over again to the very strange rhythms that he had. He never, as far as I'm aware, introduced Hey Good Looking with that song title, he always had a patter [demonstrates]. and then he'd roll into it. That kind of slow down speed up rhythm--of course it wasn't that the whole way through but I found that Luke the Drifter became a middle C on the keyboard, became like a tuning fork for me, to get my voice in the right spot.
Audience Question: Hank Jr. and Hank III are performers in their own right. Did you have any contact with family?
Marc Abraham: I had lunch with Jr. about four years ago. Jr. has had, not unlike his dad, a pretty painful life, because he didn't have a dad and that's not a small thing. His mom put him in his dad's clothes and put him on the road at a very early age and he was living in the shadow of his father. And finally after a terrible accident where he almost died, he realized he didn't want to be his father, he wanted to be himself. And he sang blues, rock, southern rock. He said he wasn't against it [the film], he just didn't want to really be involved. He wanted to leave it to someone else. He gave the mantle to Holly, because he's close to his daughter Holly. He has two daughters, Holly and Hilary. Holly happens to be a very good musician. Holly became Hank Jr.'s proxy. I was much more concerned with Jr. and what he felt and Jett Williams, his stepsister that he didn't even know he had. You know the scene on the pier, that woman Bobbi had a daughter, that daughter was born four days after Hank died. That daughter is alive today. That's Jett. She did not know that she was Hank William's daughter for 27 years of her life. She was in foster homes; had a very painful life. I spent a lot of time talking to Jett. Holly was fantastic, really an asset, and the person both Tom and I cared the most about. She wanted the movie to stand on its own. It wasn't meant to do anything for her career. She's a very sincere individual, and a smart gal. So I did talk to Holly, I had a brief conversation with Jr., spent a bit of time with Jett, and then Colin Escott whose book I ended up using for the source material, had done the most extensive amount of work dealing with all these people including Don Helms. We felt comfortable that we had covered the territory but both Holly and Jett's response was fantastic. I hate talking to families when you are making a movie about families. If I went to anyone's family and asked about you they would tell the most embarrassing story about you. Every family has a different attitude. Holly saw Tom's performance, was blown away by Tom's performance, was so moved by it. She said to me, "We have a pretty f'ed up family; it's pretty obvious and not everyone's going to agree with how everything is shown. But I can truthfully tell you that you've respected everyone in the family.
Michael Kyrioglou: That's a stunning scene when he is singing to the baby.
Tom Hiddleston: That's the scene that Holly wrote to me about. I couldn't be there at the screening when we showed it to her. She wrote to me that night and said some unbelievably sweet things that I would be immodest to repeat. The scene she picked out was where Hank was singing I Saw the Light to Hank Jr., the baby who must have been about 8 days old. That was Holly watching her grandfather sing to her father. She was very touched by it and said it was really the essence of what she thought about that time. She also loved the scene with Bobbi Jett on the pier and she mentioned how we captured the mixed emotions of Hank’s joy and his dealing with his demons. He was a troubled soul. I also met Jett and when I met her I was dressed in the double breasted suit and hat and she said it was like seeing Hank again. So if I’ve done right by them I feel good about what we’ve done.
Audience Question: I was really impressed with the opening scene and it really distilled the fact that he was one of the best performers ever. How scary was that doing the a cappella in that scene?
Tom Hiddleston: Well this is where I take off my 10 gallon hat to Marc. It was his idea. He said, “How about this--everyone will be waiting for the first time you open your mouth or hear your voice, and to see how much you sound like the real Hank. Let’s just start with Your Cold Cold Heart but we take the music out and it’s just your voice and those immortal words? We will force people to listen to those words." There are no recordings we could find of Hank’s voice without musical accompaniment or just a cappella. It was a way to introduce the audience to the soul of those words and that song and of my engagement with it. I thought it was a very bold, cinematic idea. I hope we carried it off and Dante Spinotti, the cinematographer captured it beautifully.
Michael Kyrioglou: And you sang primarily live?
Tom Hiddleston: Yes, I had practiced to the point I was comfortable doing it.
Marc Abraham: Remember this is an independent film also so it was a very tight group of people and we all worked together on it. The words are so beautiful: “In anger unkind words are said that make the teardrops start. Why can't I free your doubtful mind,and melt your cold, cold heart.” It really is from a poet and a singer.
Audience Question: I love Tom’s work on his films and stage work in Coriolanus and other plays, and his upcoming TV series The Night Manager and new film High Rise also opening soon. How do you change your process of acting and selecting projects from the different venues of TV, film and theatre?
Tom Hiddleston: Thank you, you seem to know a lot about my work. The experience of an actor is really quite similar. I appreciate that the different media, such as film, TV, or theatre; or blockbuster movies versus independent films arrive in the world in very different ways, but my experience is just turn up on the set and tell the truth. Tell the story, investigate the story, challenge the story, get under the skin of the story; be they real like Hank, or fictional. I can’t really explain my selection process. I just get a gut feeling about things and if the story excites me. I love all of it. Someone asked me this question also yesterday about how I can do different things in different media, but you know there’s room for sushi and cheeseburgers. [audience laughs]. I love them both. You can find art in entertainment and great entertainment can be artful. I just believe in theatre and cinema. I believe in its power to change the world in some small way. Not like the legislation that comes out of this great city (laughter) even sometimes if not constructive. There are other ways to change things in tangible ways like combating disease. I do think cinema can provoke reflection and introspection and unite people. It unites an audience and draws us together and reminds us that we all suffer pain and all experience joy and that all of our journeys are epic. I believe in cinema and always have since I was a kid. I again choose projects that I think have some small purpose to serve.
After the Q&A, Tom Hiddleston sang "I Saw the Light" and the audience joined in.
I Saw the Light opened in DC theaters April 1.
The Dark Horse: A Short Q&A with Screenwriter/Director James Napier Robertson and composer Dana Lund
By Ron Gordner, DC Film Society Member
The Dark Horse (New Zealand, 2014) was shown in September 2014 at the Toronto International Film Festival. There were also screenings at the 2015 Washington DC International Film Festival (receiving 2nd place Audience Award and Signis Award commendation). The film is based on the real life story of Genesis or Gen (played by Cliff Curtis), who had been a New Zealand chess champion in his youth but then experienced mental health issues the rest of his life. When discharged to his brother he tries to find the courage to play chess again and to teach the youth in his town to be interested in chess and get off the streets. James Rolleston plays his teenage nephew, Mana, whom he also tries to mentor into chess playing. Mana is fighting his own demons and his family who want him to be initiated into his father’s gang. This is a very inspirational drama. The film has won many awards at the New Zealand TV and Film Awards including best actor, supporting actor, score, and film; Palm Springs International Film Festival and Rotterdam International Film Festivals (Audience Award); and best film at other festivals such as the Seattle International Film Festival and St. Tropez Film Festivals.
Composer Dana Lund and director James Napier Robertson at the Toronto International Film Festival
James Napier Robertson: It’s such a pleasure to have our international premiere here at TIFF and that you all came out on a rainy, cold Saturday morning. I also want to introduce our wonderful composer of the score, Dana Lund, who is from Toronto, herself.
Audience Question: Are any of the cast non-actors?
James Napier Robertson: Absolutely. All of the kids in the chess club; none have them have ever acted before. Also Wayne Hapi, who plays Ariki, Gen’s brother had never acted before either. We actually found Wayne in a WIN office, which is a welfare office, looking for work--any work. And as he tells it, we had this sign up there in the office saying we were looking for men between late 30’s and 50ish, will be given a good daily rate, and also criminal records are welcome (audience laughter), which of course is not the usual job ads described. His eyes lit up. We also had a long queue of guys lined up down the block for that or other parts. Wayne just stood out with this very stoic, powerful presence. As mentioned, he had never acted. The first piece we gave him was short, so I thought let’s give him a call back. I had him do a scene with Cliff Curtis which was great, but I found out later it took Wayne three hours and transferring from several buses to make the call back. He also had huge amounts of dialog and action to remember that would challenge most actors and he came in well prepared and did everything dead on. It’s one of those moments, as a director, you clap your hands at finding good casts. All the kids we found at the local schools and others all over New Zealand, just looking for kids with great personalities. One example is Te Rua Rehu-Martin, a kid who plays Murray, the big boy, who just loves hugs. For kids on a set it can be quite boring, putting in long hours. He would sometimes not want to do a take, so I would have to sometimes barter with him for hugs to get the shots. So he would get a hug for each take. Not a simple hug, for him it was like a 30 second hug. The crew looked mystified and was waiting for the end of the hug to get the scene done, but the take then was always worth it. Technically there really wasn’t a written role or dialog for the Murray character at first in the script. Our casting director found him and just loved him and said you’ve got to see this kid. I agreed and went back and wrote in the new character Murray for the film.
Audience Question: What brought you to this story or how did you find it? Also do you play chess?
James Napier Robertson: I and the producer has seen a small 2003 documentary Dark Horse (little seen by anyone) directed by James Marbrook about the real Genesis Potini and how, despite all his problems (diagnosed with bipolar disorder), he taught these kids in the Eastern Knights Chess Club and took them to the New Zealand National Chess Tournament. Genesis was just so charismatic and inspirational with all the issues he had to go up against. So we immediately got in touch with the real Gen and said can we tell your story so other people can know about you and your journey. He was into it right away. I have played chess for many years, so I think that helped also since I did know something about it. I think if I hadn’t played chess, he would have said I was a fraud and not agreed to do the film. He worked with us wonderfully and I played many, many chess games with him and suffered many, many losses. I finally won one game, so I was over the moon about that but only after a great number of losses. I was very happy and blessed to know him the last years of his life. Gen was a great storyteller himself in describing his experiences and struggles with his mental health issues. He would call me every week when I was in Auckland and he was up North. He really was interested in my writing the story, but even more wanted to sing to me. He had many skills, but he was not a great singer, but he loved to do it. It was his way of supporting me. When Gen passed away, it was a hard period for me. I really wanted Gen to be at our premiere, but that was not to be. I still feel his spirit was there and is with us. We were able to get sponsors to fly his wife and son here to Toronto to the premiere so they could share with the audience a screening here.
I want to also mention the great job Cliff Curtis, who is a Maori actor you have seen in many films and is in the tv series Fear of the Walking Dead did in the film as Gen. It took Cliff about a year to prepare for his role of Gen. He gained weight and learned how to play better chess. He met Gen’s family and also researched what it was like to be bipolar. Unfortunately Gen had died, but Cliff saw the huge impact Gen had on people and his family so he really wanted to present him properly. Cliff lived in character for months as a method actor and had many challenges portraying a real person with bipolar and manic at times. The scene when he broke things like the car, those were not really scripted scenes, but Cliff became the character and created those scenes.
Toronto Moderator: [To Dana] Is this was the first time you had scored a film? I thought the music was beautiful and really highlighted the film.
Dana Lund: Yes, this is my first feature film to score. I have been writing music since I was about six years old and hopefully it’s better now. James asked me to give him some samples of scores and then as I got more footage of the film it was easier to create a pallet of sounds and music to fit the film.
James Napier Robertson: I also wanted to add that the music and film become so connected that sometimes when I heard the score it helped me with the writing process. So I did write quite a bit of the script based on her music or some of her earlier score samples that may not be in the final film. I think Dana has done such a wonderful job (applause).
Audience Question: Could you elaborate on how the film was received in New Zealand and are there plans for international distribution?
James Napier Robertson: Yes we have had an amazing ride in New Zealand with great crowds and reviews. The box office so far in New Zealand is already over $2 million which is remarkable, and it’s still in the theatres there. Also we have had interest in showing it in schools or including it in curricula there. Also they want to show it in prisons, to shine a light for prisoners to encourage them to have an interest in chess or something else and also like Ariki in the movie, how to work with their children. Many of the prisoners have gotten into gangs as kids and quickly find they don’t have many chances or hopes in life. By the time the kids realize they could have done something else with their life instead of being in the gangs, many times it may be too late after they have had lots of tattoos or prison records to get good jobs or change their lives. Many may be illiterate also which leads to other problems. So their children get caught up in the gangs also and it continues on. They really need a point to believe in themselves and what they can be and do. There is a line in the film, who do you think you are? Kids and adults are constantly being judged or being told what they are or what they feel like they are. It many times takes someone else to first believe in you, before you can believe in yourself. Internationally, thanks to festivals like Toronto we have a distributor that will show it all around the world eventually.
The film is distributed by Broad Green Pictures and opens in the DC metro area in early April 2016.
Calendar of Events
American Film Institute Silver Theater
"Bernard Herrmann: Stage, Screen and Radio" (April 1-26) is the first festival to celebrate Herrmann's career. Film titles include Citizen Kane, Sisters, Taxi Driver, Fahrenheit 451, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Bride Wore Black, North by Northwest, Marnie, Cape Fear, Jason and the Argonauts, Mysterious Island, Hangover Square, On Dangerous Ground, 5 Fingers, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and The Devil and Daniel Webster.
Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars and Labyrinth are shown as part of the David Bowie Tribute.
"Leading Men of Hollywood's Golden Age" (February 19-April 28) samples films from Fred Astaire, John Barrymore, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Lon Chaney, Gary Cooper, Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, John Gilbert, Cary Grant, Charles Laughton, Fredric March, William Powell, Edward G. Robinson, James Stewart, Rudolph Valentino and Orson Welles. Titles in April include Twentieth Century, The Public Enemy, The Roaring Twenties, The Unknown, The Penalty, The Thief of Baghdad, Gentleman Jim, Captain Blood, The Lady Eve, You Only Live Once, His Girl Friday, Only Angels Have Wings, Scarface, I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, Little Caesar, Fine Star Final,Fury, Man's Castle, and Blood and Sand with Rudolph Valentino.
"William Cameron Menzies: Inventing Production Design" (February 19-April 24) includes films designed by or directed by Menzies, about whom a biography was published recently ("James Cameron Menzies: The Shape of Things to Come"). Titles in April include The Garden of Eden, The Woman Disputed, Our Town, The Beloved Rogue, Tempest, The Pride of the Yankees, King's Row, Gone with the Wind and The Thief of Baghdad with Douglas Fairbanks.
Special events during April include King Kong presented by Count Gore De Vol, The Bad News Bears and two silent films with accompaniment by William Hooker: Within Our Gates and A Page of Madness.
Freer Gallery of Art
The Freer is closed for renovations. Films will be shown at varying locations. "A weekend with Afghan Filmmaker Siddiq Barmak" has been cancelled.
"Into the Mind of Adoor Gopalakrishnan: Indian Cinema Pioneer" is a two-part program. On April 8 at 7:00pm is Images and Reflections: A Journey into Adoor's Imagery (Girish Kasaravalli, 2005) introduced by Suranjan Ganguly author of the book "The Films of Adoor Gopalakrishnan: A Cinema of Emancipation." On April 13 at 7:00pm is A Climate for Crime (Adoor Gopalakrishnan, 2008). Location for both is American University.
Two films are shown for Turkish Film Week. On April 11 at 7:00pm is Ivy (Tolga Karacelik, 2015). On April 12 at 7:00pm is Baskin (Can Evrenol, 2015) with the director in person. Both are shown at Landmark's E Street Cinema.
For the National Cherry Blossom Festival three Japanese anime films will be shown. On April 16 at 1:00pm is Miss Hokusai (Keiichi Hara, 2015); at 3:00pm is From Up on Poppy Hill (Goro Miyazaki, 2011); and at 5:00pm is A Letter to Momo (Hiroyuki Okiura, 2011). Location for all is the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
National Gallery of Art
"Bernard Herrmann: Stage, Screen and Radio" is a series of films featuring the music of Bernard Herrmann. On April 2 at 4:00pm is The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock, 1956); on April 3 at 4:00pm is The Day the Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 1951) with an introduction by musicologist Neil Lerner who will demonstrate the theremin. On April 10 at 4:00pm is The Wrong Man (Alfred Hitchcock, 1945) preceded by The Twilight Zone: Walking Distance (Rod Serling, 1959) with an introduction by Bruce Crawford. On April 16 at 3:00pm is Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960); and on April 23 at 2:30pm is Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) with an introduction by Christopher Husted. More at the AFI.
Special events this month include Kyoto (Kon Ichikawa, 1968) shown with Kyoto, My Mother's Place (Nagisa Oshima, 1991) on April 2 at 2:00pm. Al Reinert, Jamie Wyeth and Roberta Olson will be present for Rara Avis: John James Audubon and the Birds of America (Al Reinert and Cina Alexander, 2015). The Washington premiere of Notfilm (Ross Lipman, 2015) about the making of Film is shown with Film (Alan Schneider and Samuel Beckett, 1965) on April 24 at 4:00pm. On April 30 at 2:30pm is a "Cine-Concert" Faust (F.W. Murnau, 1926) with live music by Daniel Schnyder, David Taylor and Kenny Drew Jr.
National Portrait Gallery
In celebration of Gregory Peck's 100th birthday, on April 3 at 2:00pm is To Kill a Mockingbird and A Conversation with Gregory Peck. Peck's daughter Cecelia and the documentary's producers Barbara Koppel and Linda Saffire will be present for discussion.
Washington Jewish Community Center
On April 5 at 7:30pm is Midnight Orchestra (Jerome Cohen Olivar, 2015), previously part of the 2016 Washington Jewish Film Festival. The son of a once-famous Jewish musician returns to Morocco. On April 11 at 7:30pm is Teaching Ignorance (Tamara Erde, 2015), a documentary following Israeli and Palestinian teachers throughout an academic year. On April 19 at 7:30pm is Sabene Hijacking (Rani Sa'ar, 2014), a documentary about the May 8, 1972 hijacking. On April 25 at 7:30pm is Partisans of Vilna (1986) the film's producer Aviva Kempner doing Q&A afterwards. On April 26 at 7:30pm is the documentary Soft Vengeance: Albie Sachs and the New South Africa (2014) with filmmaker Abby Ginzberg participating in Q&A after the film.
On April 6 at 6:30pm is a film and discussion "Germans and Jews Together: In the Presence of the Past." The documentary Return (Elodie Ferre) about six Israeli immigrants in Berlin is shown with a short film The German Sheperd (Nils Bergendal). Discussion follows with David Paul, Leonie Vandersee and Gideon Culman, moderated by Mark McGuigan.
The Japan Information and Culture Center
On April 22 at 6:30pm is the award-winning film Lady Maiko (Masayuki Suo, 2014), about a country girl who becomes a Kyoto geisha.
On April 29 at 6:30pm is Fuse--Memoirs of a Huntress (Masayuki Miyaji, 2012), an anime film based on an Edo period novel by Kyokutei Bakin.
The Textile Museum at GWU
On April 2 at 2:00pm are two documentaries Qudad: Re-inventing a Tradition (Caterina Borelli, 2004) and The Architecture of Mud (Caterina Borelli, 1999), both about Yemen.
On April 18 at noon is A View From the Street: The Art of Lily Spandorf (Barr Weissman, 1988) a documentary about watercolorist Lily Spandorf.
On April 21 at 7:00pm is the documentary Eye on the 60s: The Iconic Photography of Rowland Scherman, about the former LIFE photographer with filmmaker Chris Szwedo present to discuss the film.
Landmark's Bethesda Row Cinema
"Movie Rewind" is a classic film series held on Wednesdays. On April 6 at 7:00pm and 9:30pm is Shaft (Gordon Parks); on April 13 at 4:00pm and 7:30pm is Xanadu (Robert Greenwald); on April 20 at 4:00pm and 7:30pm is Glory (Edward Zwick) and on April 27 at 4:00pm and 7:30pm is Ray (Taylor Hackford).
Landmark's E Street Cinema
Japanese anime films from the Studio Ghibli are shown March 5-April 10. Titles remaining in April include Howl's Moving Castle, The Wind Rises, When Marnie Was There and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. All are in Japanese with English subtitles.
Landmark's Bethesda Row Cinema
Japanese anime films from the Studio Ghibli are shown March 5-April 10. Titles remaining in April include When Marnie Was There, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Howl's Moving Castle, The Wind Rises. All are in Japanese with English subtitles.
On April 6 at 8:00pm is the documentary Last Man on the Moon (Mark Craig, 2014), as this month's "Avalon Docs" series.
On April 13 at 8:00pm is The Greedy Tiffany (Andy Fehu, 2015), part of the "Czech Lions" series.
The "French Cinematheque" film for April is In Harmony (Denis Dercourt, 2015) starring Cecile de France on April 20 at 8:00pm.
On April 27 at 8:00pm is Apples From the Desert (Matti Harari and Arik Lubetzki, 2014) in the "Reel Israel" series.
Library of Congress
The Mary Pickford Theater at the Library of Congress will start a new series of films showcasing the Library's collection and including newly preserved films. On April 21 at 7:00pm is a newly restored 35mm print of the rarely-seen film Disc Jockey (Will Jason, 1951), about a disc jockey (Michael O'Shea) whose sponsor believes radio is dead. Two musical short films precede the feature: "Eddie Condon's All Stars" (Harry Foster, 1951) and "Music By Martin" (Will Cowan, 1950).
Anacostia Community Museum
On April 8 at 6:00pm is Mala Mala (2014), a documentary about trans-identifying people, drag queens and others in Puerto Rico.
On April 16 at 2:00pm is Near the River, a documentary about the Anacostia River and its impact.
On April 19 at 11:00am is Fate of a Salesman (2013), a documentary about the H Street Men's Fashion Center store which was in business for 60 years.
The "Seeing Red Film Series" begins April 24 at 4:00pm with the documentary Hollywood on Trial (1976). New Yorker staff writer Margaret Talbot and movie critic Nell Minow. Three more in May.
On April 19 at 7:00pm is Cowspiracy (Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn), about the effect of cows on the environment.
University of Maryland, Hoff Theater
On April 8 and 9 starting at 9:00am each day is the GFC Annual Film Symposium. The topic is "The Postman Always Rings Twice--A History of Textual Obsession" and the conference discusses the cinematic adaptations and remakes of James M. Cain's 1934 novel The Postman Always Rings Twice. Specialists of film, literature and comparative media will explore the reasons why this story has such wide appeal for filmmakers and writers in a diverse set of geographical locations. Free and open to the public.
Reel Affirmations XTra
On April 22 at 7:00pm is the documentary American Vagabond (Susanna Helke, 2013) and at 9:00pm is the documentary A Tough Act to Follow featuring a Q&A afterward with comedian Sampson McCormick.
Busboys and Poets
On April 3 at 6:00pm is the documentary Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story with a filmmaker Q&A after the film. At the 5th and K location.
On April 12 at 6:30pm is the documentary Another Kind of Girl, about the mirant crisis. At the Hyattsville location.
On April 5 at 6:30pm is the Surprise Family Movie Night at the Takoma location.
On April 1 at 7:00pm is the award-winning comedy La Famille Belier (Eric Lartigau, 2014).
George Mason University
On April 5 at 4:30pm is the award-winning documentary Field Niggas, which looks at the poorest residents of Harlem. Filmmaker Khalik Allah will be present to discuss the film along with Washington Post movie critic Ann Hornaday. Part of the "Visiting Filmmaker Series." Free and open to the public.
Virginia Theological Seminary
On April 22 at 7:30pm is the silent classic Phantom of the Opera (Rupert Julian, 1925) starring Lon Chaney. Live pipe organ accompaniment is provided by Dorothy Papadakos on the Immanuel Chapel's new Taylor and Boody organ with 2,061 pipes. Free and open to the public.