Formerly known as Silverdocs, this festival sponsored by the American Film Institute puts socially conscious documentaries in front of policymakers who might even do something about the subjects. After-parties, which have drawn the likes of Spike Lee and Al Gore, don’t actually require a hipster beard or a PhD for admission; the only must-haves are the festival’s app and a good pair of walking shoes for venue-hopping. Insider perk: Become a film screener (or volunteer) and attend for free.
When: June 17 through 21.
Where: Six screens in Penn Quarter, three at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring.
Bragging rights: Taxi to the Dark Side, Man on Wire, Searching for Sugar Man.
Samantha Rios isn't your average 13-year-old. The Arlington native, an eighth-grader at Kenmore Middle School, is competing on La Voz Kids, Telemundo's version of The Voice--and is absolutely crushing it. Last week, she crooned the Jackson Five's "Who's Lovin' You" and finished the song with an air kiss like the tiny diva that she is. Now she's readying for her big performance at the semifinals on Sunday night. Her fame may have come suddenly, but one thing's for sure: This kid has been waiting for this moment her entire life.
When a reporter interviews her on the phone, she's got two other people on the line--publicist included. "I already feel like a winner for being on the show," she says, like a total pro.
Also, she's in with the right crowd. Her coach on the show is none other than Daddy Yankee, the Puerto Rican reggaeton star. "What has captivated me from Samantha is her vocal power and strength," he says. "She has everything to succeed in the music industry. You rarely see talents like her."
We'll help you decide whether you should see Taalib York perform Michael Jackson's hits from the '80s, or Frankie Moreno take on Frank Sinatra's swingin' songs.
"NSO Pops: Let's Be Frank: The Songs of Frank Sinatra," will be at the Kennedy Center on June 5-6.
"Who's Bad: The World's #1 Michael Jackson Tribute Band," will be at the 9:30 Club on June 12.
This quiz appears in our June 2015 issue of Washingtonian.
You may have already heard of the tunnels hidden beneath Dupont Circle, the 75,000-square-foot space built in 1949 as an underground streetcar station. It's been largely uninhabited for decades, but in July, Dupont Underground plans to change that. They're hoping to transform those dusty passages into a cultural destination, packed with gallery and concert space.
There's still time to explore the tunnels mostly as they are. On May 30, Atlas Obscura, a travel guide site dedicated to exploring unexpected places, celebrates the world's weird, hidden wonders with Obscura Day, a worldwide bash involving 150 events in 39 states and 25 countries. For the occasion, Dupont Underground leads three guided walking tours, giving visitors a sense of the space's history and future.
THURSDAY, MAY 28
Dance: Watch A Streetcar Named Desire at The Kennedy Center where the Scottish Ballet offers its rendition of Tennessee Williams’ famed play, which is celebrating its 65th anniversary. The performance, recommended for those 16 and older, marks the dance company’s first visit to the Washington venue. $30 to $108, 7:30 PM.
TALK: Fight Club fans, get ready to learn more about Tyler Durden, the character played by Brad Pitt in the 1999 film. (Which is based on a 1996 novel by the same name.) The book's author Chuck Palahniuk comes to Sixth & I for an evening including a Q&A, games, and more. The $35 admission fee includes one signed copy of his latest, Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread. 7 PM.
Twenty years ago, C. Brian Williams merged two art forms that were created thousands of miles apart--stepping and the South African Gumboot dance. Though the origins of stepping trace back to African-American fraternities and sororities, Williams—an Alpha Phi Alpha member—discovered similar moves when he traveled to Africa. So he decided to combine the two.
“When I saw the South African Gumboot dance... I was amazed at how similar that was to stepping,” Williams says. “Normally you put on a great song, and your body will tell you what to do. In stepping, you have to be both the dancing and the music. That’s the major difference [between stepping and dancing]. In stepping, you move to the music that you create."
Tommy Caldwell made history this January when he and Kevin Jorgeson successfully free-climbed the Dawn Wall--a treacherous, 3,000-foot section of the rock called El Capitan at Yosemite National Park. They only used their hands and feet, with ropes as their safety. Previously considered impossible, the feat made national headlines; President Obama even sent his congratulations.
Caldwell comes to National Geographic Live on June 3 and 4 to talk about his experience, using videos and pictures captured during the ascent. Both shows are sold out, so Washingtonian got ahold of him to talk the Dawn Wall, the climbing life, and the death of Dean Potter.
1. AFI Docs
Multiple Venues, June 17-21
After a year with no full-time director, AFI Docs hired Michael Lumpkin, who arrives at a key time: The festival recently shifted most screenings from Silver Spring to DC, with more documentaries chosen for their potential impact on policymakers. But it’s not just about targeting wonks. “You have to know your audience,” he says. —Benjamin Freed
TUESDAY, MAY 26
PLAY: There’s fun for the whole family at the Capital Fair at RFK. Enjoy rides, games, food, and more. The event, ending on May 31, opens at 5 PM on weeknights and noon on Saturday and Sunday. $3 entrance fee, plus additional for rides.
COMEDY: Don’t settle for tuning in to Comedy Central for your dose of Amy Schumer. Head to DAR Constitution Hall where the former Last Comic Standing contestant will offer up her unique brand of risqué humor. The Inside Amy Schumer star visits DC for one night only. Tickets are running low and are available on StubHub. 7:30 PM.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 27
DRINK: Thirsty? RFD is ready to remedy that with a beer-tasting that includes at least 12 breweries--DC Brau, 3 Stars Brewing Company, and others. The so-called "Strong Ale Tasting" takes place in the bar's back room on 7th Street, NW. Not into those beers? Order one of more than 300 bottles offered there. 6 PM, $40.
THEATER: Atlas Theater premieres a new, dark comedy about a woman who prematurely fulfills her role in a suicide pact, leaving her friends to rummage through her belongings. The Welders: happiness (and other reasons to die) stars Melissa Flaim, Elan Zafir, Carlos Saldana, Miyuki Williams, and Graham Pilato. The production runs through June 13. 8 PM, $20.
At the National Portrait Gallery’s new exhibit “Eye Pop: The Celebrity Gaze,” opening May 22, portraiture is presented as an intimate experience, both for the artist and the subject. The show's 54 portraits examine the relationship between the celebrity, the artist, and the audience. “There’s always something you can learn about who’s looking at who, how they are looking, and how we as an audience feel about that looking,” says Kim Sajet, director of the museum.
Museum-goers get to see celebrities--like Serena Williams, Brad Pitt, and Oprah Winfrey--in unexpected ways: Athletes outside of the arena, dancers standing still, and actors stripped of their costumes, revealing their vulnerabilities, as well as a glimpse into their personal lives. Here’s what you can expect to see at the show.