The Kennedy Center announced its 2014-15 season this morning. Here are the highlights:
The touring production of Evita stops by in October 2014.
The KenCen premieres its new production of Little Dancer, with direction and choreography by Susan Stroman, also in October.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is your holiday musical, arriving December 16.
Signature Theatre’s Eric Schaeffer directs a new revival of Lerner and Loewe’s Gigi before it heads to New York, opening January 17.
Tony-winning musical Once arrives for a six-week engagement in July 2015.
Smash hit Book of Mormon (which, you may remember, crashed the Kennedy Center’s website last summer when tickets went on sale), is returning for two months in the summer of 2015.
The KenCen presents Martha Clarke’s Cheri in October.
Beijing Dance Theater stops by in October.
Ballet West provides this year’s Nutcracker from December 1 through 14.
The Mariinsky Ballet performs a mixed-repertory program in January.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns in February.
American Ballet Theatre returns in March with one unnamed full-length work and a mixed-repertory program.
The New York City Ballet brings two mixed programs to the KenCen in April.
The Scottish Ballet performs A Streetcar Named Desire in May.
England’s the Royal Ballet performs Don Quixote and a mixed program in June.
Joshua Bell performs in the Season Opening Ball Concert September 21.
The Washington National Opera presents Florencia in the Amazon in September.
David Zinman conducts pianist Angela Hewitt in October.
John Mauceri conducts Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton in October.
Christoph Eschenbach conducts Midori October 30 through November 1.
Steven Reineke conducts an evening with Sutton Foster in November.
The WNO stages Puccini’s La Bohème in November.
The WNO Family Opera in December is Rachel Portman’s adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.
Pianist Tzimon Barto returns in January.
Organist Cameron Carpenter performs February 4.
Emanuel Ax also stops by in February.
The WNO presents Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites in February and March.
Jason Moran performs In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall, 1959 in March.
The WNO revives Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman in March.
Dianne Reeves returns in April.
Violinist Leonidas Kavakos performs in May.
The Kennedy Center also announced a festival dedicated to performing arts from Spain and Portugal. Iberian Suite: Arts Remix Across Continents will take place from March 2 through 24, and will feature theater, music, dance, and more.
Washington Jewish Film Festival
February 27-March 9
At 14 locations in the District and Maryland, including the Washington DC Jewish Community Center, this festival presents 64 films from 18 countries. This year, its “visionary” award goes to Israeli filmmaker Avi Nesher, and there are films by actor John Turturro (Fading Gigolo), Canadian documentarian Alan Zweig (When Jews Were Funny), and more, as well as talks, a “cinematic pub crawl,” and other events. Single tickets ($12) at wjff.org.
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital
This year’s festival, at multiple area venues, has the theme Our Cities, Our Planet, exploring urban environments in the 21st century. The 170 films range from Andreas Pichler’s The Venice Syndrome to Riri Riza’s The Jungle School. Events include post-screening discussions. Single tickets (free to $20) at dcenvironmentalfilmfest.org.
Bethesda Film Fest
For a second year, this festival at Imagination Stage screens five short documentaries by local filmmakers including Precious Lambert, Leah Edwards, Stephen Menick, and Scott Sowers and selected by a panel including George Mason University director of film and media studies Cynthia Fuchs. The screenings are followed by a Q&A both nights. Tickets ($10) at bethesda.org.
Annapolis Film Festival
More than 70 films are on the slate for this festival at four venues. The opening feature is Jamesy Boy, a movie about a gang member with Taissa Farmiga, Mary-Louise Parker, James Woods, and Ving Rhames. Shot in Baltimore and Jessup, it’s directed by Trevor White and produced by Tim White, both of whom grew up in Annapolis. Events include a Q&A with Oscar-winning screenwriter David S. Ward (The Sting). Tickets ($12) at annapolisfilmfestival.net.
This article appears in the March 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
The lineup for this year's Virgin Mobile FreeFest was announced earlier this morning, and it's a busy one: Vampire Weekend, the Avett Brothers, Pretty Lights, Robin Thicke, MGMT, Kaskade, City and Colour, Icona Pop, CHVRCHES, the Knocks, Black Joe Lewis, Sky Ferreira, and Little Green Cars will grace two Main Stages at Merriweather Post Pavilion September 21, with Madeon, Gareth Emery, Washed Out, Manufactured Superstars, Conogorock, TJR, and Ghost Beach appearing in the Dance Forest.
During the last four years the festival has raised funds to build the Sasha Bruce Re*Generation House, a shelter for homeless youth in Washington. Donations and other funds raised at this year's FreeFest will again support the institution, and go towards the costs of maintaining it. See a video featuring some of the home's beneficiaries announcing the lineup of the 2013 festival here.
Tickets for FreeFest will be available from 12PM August 9, with a pre-sale (or pre-free) for Facebook and Twitter followers and Virgin Mobile customers starting at noon August 8. While tickets usually disappear quickly, a number of "freemium" passes will be made available as usual, and will include a $10 donation to Virgin Mobile's youth homelessness initiative, as well as a FreeFest shirt and souvenir cup.
Looking to navigate the undeniably rich but ever-puzzling terrain of the Capital Fringe
Festival this year? In preparation for the festival, which runs July 11 through 28,
we’ve broken down which of the 130 shows on offer to bookmark, categorized by musicals,
comedy, drama, and physical theater/dance, and ranked—as usual—by general quirkiness.
The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs: The Musical
When: July 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, and 28
Who: Timothy Guillot (after Mike Daisey).
Why: Remember that fairly newsworthy Daisey show about Apple and China? Timothy Guillot has made it into a musical, and that’s all we need to say.
Quirk Factor: 5/5
Cabaret XXXY: Who Do You Think You Are?
When: July 12, 16, 20, 24, 25, 26, and 28
Who: Pinky Swear Productions, Stephen Spotswood.
Why: Pinky Swear won the Best Fringe Musical award in 2011 for Les Femmes Fatales, and return for a third year with this ode to rock anthems and unabashed female sexuality.
Quirk Factor: 2/5
Disco Jesus and the Apostles of Funk
When: July 13, 17, 21, 25, and 27
Who: Vaughn Irving, Doug Wilder, and Paul Foreman.
Why: This disco-themed musical about the son of God and his bartender mother stars the amazing Felicia Curry and nine other singers. Plus you get to say “Disco Jesus.”
Quirk Factor: 2/5
1814! The War of 1812 Rock Opera
When: July 11, 14, 18, 20, 23, and 26
Who: Written and composed by David Dudley and Dave Israel.
Why: Because between Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Hoover Comes Alive, historical rock operas are a thing now? Also because this is apparently the summer of Washington being destroyed by haters, and this musical depicting the Battle of Baltimore has shockingly good timing.
Quirk Factor: 1/5
The documentary festival formerly known as Silverdocs has undergone quite a facelift for its 11th year, with a new name (AFI Docs Presented by Audi), a new sponsor (see previous), and a new presence downtown. This year, June 19 through 23, the festival is branching out of the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring to screen films concurrently at the AFI and in downtown DC, with venues including the Newseum, the National Museum of American History, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Archives, and the Goethe-Institut.
Another notable difference this year is the number of films being screened. Just 53 movies will be on the slate at 2013’s festival, compared with 118 in 2012. “In many ways, the AFI is framing this as a relaunch, a combination of year one and an 11-year start,” said festival director Sky Sitney in an interview last month. “We’ve all made an important decision that we have to be more ambitious in terms of the events we’re doing, but they’re going to be scaled back in terms of the scope of the festival this first year. What this year represents is the incredible opportunity to have a campus in DC and set the foundation for the next decade of the festival.”
This means movies such as Documented, a film by former Washington Post journalist Jose Antonio Vargas about his experiences as an undocumented immigrant living in the US, will take place less than a mile from the Capitol, offering the opportunity to host discussions and Q&As that festival organizers hope will offer new ideas and insight to lawmakers. One new AFI Docs feature is an initiative called the Catalyst Sessions, which will build on the festival’s tradition of hosting post-screening discussions to offer focused debates with filmmakers, politicians, nonprofit leaders, and others in the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center.
Sweetlife, the day-long festival hosted by salad chain Sweetgreen, returned on Saturday with headliners Passion Pit, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Phoenix, and food by trucks such as Pepe and the Big Cheese, a Toki Underground/13th Street Meats collaboration, and, of course, Sweetgreen. As appears to be traditional now at Sweetlife, rain sheeted down midway through the festival but cleared up in time for the last few acts. Here, a breakdown of the day’s Sweetflow highs and quinoa lows—plus some photos.
Sugary Sweet Selinas
Kendrick Lamar: The 25-year-old rapper attracted huge crowds (though that could have been in part because it was practically monsooning during his set). Within the first 30 seconds of “Backseat Freestyle” we saw an ambitious crowd-surfer being hoisted in the air.
Recycling: This year’s festival featured a booth offering prizes such as a free pair of green-and-white sunglasses in exchange for the promise to pick up a piece of trash and refrain from littering. We love free stuff!
Front-row fans at Yeah Yeah Yeahs: The always-high-energy Karen O, sparkling from her blue eyeshadow to her crystal-encrusted kicks, hopped into the pit during one song to let fans lined up along the barricade take turns singing into the microphone (to admittedly mixed results).
Lawn-goers: It started pouring halfway through the festival, turning the grounds into a slippery, swampy, muddy mess. But those on the grass didn’t appear to mind—instead they donned ponchos, held umbrellas, and continued to dance. We even saw an Instagram of a tarp being turned into an impromptu slip-and-slide.
Silverdocs, the annual documentary festival hosted at AFI Silver Theatre each summer, announced today that it has a new name (AFI Docs), a new sponsor (Audi), and a new esteemed panel of advisers (Ken Burns, Spike Lee, Barbara Copple, and Davis Guggenheim, among others).
The largest documentary festival in the US, Silverdocs has long been a highlight of the summer for filmgoers and Silver Spring residents alike. This year’s festival, scheduled for June 19 through 23, will still be based at the AFI Silver Theatre but will also include screenings in downtown Washington in venues on the Mall and in Penn Quarter. AFI Docs, the name of which refers to the American Film Institute, will also include a new program called the AFI Catalyst Sessions, which brings together filmmakers, policy-makers, and audiences to discuss issues affecting Americans today.
“AFI Docs will bring film artists to the forefront of a dialogue with our nation’s leaders,” said AFI President and CEO Bob Gazzale in a statement. “History has proven that great change in civil societies is often, if not always, catalyzed by art. It is this that inspires us to be in Washington, DC, with storytellers whose voices serve as catalysts for action.”
More information about this year’s slate of films and other scheduled programing will be posted at the AFI Docs website in coming weeks, and we’ll update as we learn more about the 2013 festival.
Filmfest DC returns for its 27th year— April 11 through 21—and after almost three decades of reviewing more than 300 submissions annually, founder Tony Gittens has a definite idea of what makes a good film: “Ultimately, it comes down to the story. The stories seem to be pretty much about the same thing—people understanding their place in the world, trying to have connections with other people, and finding themselves with obstacles to overcome.”
This year’s roster encompasses 81 features, documentaries, and shorts from around the world. Films are grouped thematically, including an espionage-and-thriller category called Trust No One. Among the festival’s highlights are the US premiere of Underground: The Julian Assange Story, an Australian movie starring Alex Williams as the WikiLeaks founder and Rachel Griffiths as his mother. Also on the roster: Stories We Tell, an autobiographical documentary by Canadian actress turned director Sarah Polley (Away From Her, Take This Waltz); Kon-Tiki, the Oscar-nominated Norwegian drama about Thor Heyerdahl’s groundbreaking voyage across the Pacific Ocean; and The Attack, a Lebanese film about a middle-class man who learns his wife is a suicide bomber. “A number of things have changed in 27 years,” Gittens says. “We’re seeing a lot more variety and more diverse voices. But we have a loyal audience and they’re very knowledgeable. To know we’re making a contribution to the city’s cultural scene is a good feeling.”
Filmfest DC. April 11 through 21. For schedule, venues, tickets, and other details at the festival’s website.
This article appears in the April 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.
Know your Arthur Elgort from your Ansel Adams? Your X-Pro filter from your 1977? FotoWeek DC, the annual weeklong festival dedicated to showcasing photography, kicks off today with exhibitions, competitions, seminars, portfolio reviews, parties, and more. Here’s our guide to five things you shouldn’t miss.
Each year, the festival bounces around among different home bases. In 2011 it was mainly located in the empty Borders space at 18th and L, with exhibitions on two different levels. This year FotoWeek takes over the Warner Theatre at 1299 Pennsylvania Avenue, where there’ll be ten different exhibitions on display, from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting’s “Global Goods/Local Costs” show to the Instagram exhibit. A $7 admission fee ($5 in advance) gets you access to all of the shows and most of the additional lectures and programming.
Corcoran Gallery of Art
To coincide with the festival, the Corcoran has two major photography exhibits on display this weekend. “Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII” is a vast, thought-provoking look at heritage and humanity, in which Simon photographs members of different family trees to explore their bloodlines and legacies. “Ivan Sigal: White Road” reveals black-and-white photos taken of former Soviet Union towns from 1998 through 2005 by Sigal, a Washington resident and nonprofit director.
Playing Friday, June 22, at 5 PM and Saturday, June 23, at 10:15 PM
Plenty of filmmakers have turned their cameras on New Orleans in recent years, realizing that a unique American city was almost lost to nature. Given the forecast of less optimistic climate change models, it could well be lost for good should the waters rise up and take it back for the sea. Whether it’s Spike Lee’s incisive documentary When the Levees Break or David Simon and Eric Overmyer’s blend of drama and cultural history in the HBO series Treme, there’s something special about the city—in its food, its music, its nonstop party vibe—that filmmakers are desperate to communicate. But for a city so sensuous, the two senses that film reaches probably aren’t enough; for some things, you just have to be there.
Tchoupitoulas, the new documentary from directors Bill and Turner Ross, may come as close as is possible to replicating the experience of a night spent walking the streets of New Orleans. That’s because that’s essentially all that the film does. The Rosses take three adolescent brothers who live just a ferry ride away from the French Quarter and follow them as they go on a nighttime trip through the city after they miss their ferry home.