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The Lookout: DC Shorts Film Festival

With the DC Shorts Film Festival beginning this week, the question isn’t whether to attend the event but which of the 102 competing films to see.

Celebrating its fifth anniversary, DC Shorts will screen each of a record 102 films—chosen from 650 submissions—during the eight-day festival at Landmark E Street Cinema (555 11th St., NW) starting September 11. The festival will also include readings from six screenplays and conclude with a Best of the Fest showcase.

If that’s not enough to excite your inner cinephile, you can check out one of the open-invitation parties to rub shoulders with some of the 180 visiting filmmakers, or attend a seminar led by filmmaker Kelley Baker. For those with children, DC Shorts is offering a free Family Films series as part of the Penn Quarter Arts on Foot celebration.

Festival founder and director Jon Gann—who started the event after tiring of what he saw as Hollywood’s casual treatment of filmmakers—recommends ordering tickets in advance because numerous shows are expected to sell out.

Asked which films he felt were most worthy of the $12 admission, Gann was at a loss but eventually decided on three sure to please a Washington audience. The first is Funniest Fed 2007, directed by local filmmaker Rob Raffety. The comic documentary, which Gann calls “very Washington,” follows numerous federal workers who enter a standup-comedy contest. His second pick, Irish Twins, is written and directed by Rider Strong of TV’s Boy Meets World, who also acts in it. The third, Bloom, is a dark 13-minute drama about lost love.

For the first time this year, moviegoers can vote for their favorite shorts via a phone-ballet system immediately following each show; DC Shorts is the nation’s first film festival to use such a method. Winners will be announced September 14, followed by encore presentations September 14 through 18.

Tickets are available online at or at the E Street Cinema box office. For more information and a schedule, visit

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