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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

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
an Australian movie starring Alex
as the WikiLeaks founder and Rachel
as his mother. Also on the roster: Stories We
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

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.