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Stories We Tell: Founder Tony Gittens Talks Upcoming Filmfest DC

This year’s festival will showcase 81 features, documentaries, and short films from around the world.

Among the offerings at FilmFest DC is Norway’s Kon-Tiki, nominated for an Oscar this year. Photograph courtesy of Filmfest DC.
Photograph of Tony Gittens courtesy of Filmfest DC.

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.

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