Things to Do

First Lady Portraits, Film Festivals, and Outdoor Comedy: Things to Do in Washington, November 9-11

Plus: What hobbies will you take up this winter?

Illustration by Hannah Good.

Hi folks!

We’ve got new exhibits, classical music, and film festivals.

See a new exhibit of First Ladies throughout history at the National Portrait Gallery.

Here’s what you should check out this weekend:

Fest: The DC Environmental Film Festival is hosting a virtual Fall Showcase which will share screenings of award-winning nature and environmental works that they were unable to show earlier this year due to the pandemic. See films like Okavango: River of Dreams, about wildlife along this river in southern Africa, and Flint: Who Can You Trust?, an Alec Baldwin-narrated documentary about the “worst man-made disaster in U.S. history.” Thursday 11/12 through Wednesday 11/18; $35 for a full showcase pass, find out more here.

Herstory: Explore the rich and varied lives of First Ladies in the National Portrait Gallery’s new exhibit, “Every Eye Is Upon Me: First Ladies of the United States,” which is the biggest show of First Lady portraits ever displayed outside the White House. See more than 60 works highlighting big names like Martha Washington and Mary Lincoln as well as lesser-known names like Jane Pierce and Harriet Johnston, who was actually bachelor President James Buchanan’s niece. There are a few other First Lady-related artifacts, too, including the sketches of the legendary gown Michelle Obama wore when Amy Sherald painted her. You can explore the portraits and each First Lady’s story online here and at the gallery in person. Friday 11/13 through May 23, 2021; Free, reserve a timed-entry pass to the museum here.

Listen: Experience music from Latin American composers performed by the 22-person Ensemble Dal Niente as part of the Library of Congress’s online concert series. Friday 11/13 at 8 PM; Free, register here.

For your watch list: The Immigration Film Fest starts this weekend with 11 shorts and documentaries focusing on the immigrant experience, including the stories of a DACA-protected boxer in Pennsylvania, an Iraqi refugee and gay activist who was falsely accused of being a spy, and garment workers in LA. You can also catch panels and conversations with directors and artists throughout the weekend. Friday 11/13 through Sunday 11/15; Free; register here.

Laugh outside: Head to Logan Circle Saturday afternoon to hear stand-up from comics who are veterans. Bring a picnic blanket and a mask to join the event from the Armed Services Arts Partnership and DC Writers’ Salon. Saturday 11/14 at 4 PM; Free, register here.

Another virtual concert: Violinist Cho-Liang Lin will perform in the Chamber Music Society’s “Front Row” music series. Hear Foss, Tchaikovsky, and Dvořák in this online performance from Wolf Trap and stay afterwards for a Q&A with Lin. Sunday 11/15 at 3 PM; Free, watch it here.

Food, family, justice: The opening exhibit “RECLAMATION: Recipes, Remedies, and Rituals” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts digs into the relationship women have with food and art. Nine artists have created works that illustrate their kitchen tables and what that space means to them. Additionally, the NMWA is inviting people to participate in the show to share recipes, stories, and photos by submitting them to the museum’s digital ingredient archive. To kick off the exhibit, join food historians, activists, and artists in the NMWA’s “Fresh Talk: Power and Place” who will chat about how food processes shape our identities. Exhibit: Sunday 11/15 through January 3, 2021; $10 admission, buy timed-entry passes here. Food talk: Sunday 11/15 at 4:30 PM; $10 (Pay What You Can available), register here.

Masters of disguise: Learn about the French lesbian couple who resisted the Nazis by penning Hilter insults under pseudonyms to convince soldiers to desert him in a book talk with Jeffrey Jackson, who wrote Paper Bullets: Two Artists Who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis. Jackson will chat about the gender-bending spies in a virtual event from the Spy Museum. Monday 11/16 at noon; Free, registration required.

Watch (and cringe?): Conservative venture capitalist J.D. Vance’s 2016 book Hillbilly Elegy was largely considered a key work to understanding white working class Americans and Trumpism. As such, it became an unlikely Washington must-read after the last election. Now, just in time for the fallout from another election, the work has been adapted into a Netflix film starring Gabriel Basso, Amy Adams, and Glenn Close. It’s not necessarily likely that it’ll be a similar sensation: Critics have panned the movie—the Post’s Michael O’Sullivan called it “almost laughably bad”—and many have dismissed it as bad Oscars fodder.

Something fun: 

Me, trying to understand The Queen’s Gambit.
As days get shorter and winds get colder, how are you prepping for the upcoming winter hibernation months? I’m currently trying to brainstorm what new hobbies I should try. I think first up is getting better at cooking. I can make some good food but for some reason it’s always a really daunting task to think about dinner. It feels like there’s way too many possibilities, which makes me think all recipes are at my fingertips…so I freeze up, conclude that it’s too hard to decide, and settle on a bowl of cereal and miscellaneous snacks. But I do really enjoy being in the kitchen and mixing flavors to create something delicious. Food is my love language, so any self-love and care journey I take will involve lots of curry. And chocolate. Do you have any favorite starter cookbooks that inspire you? 

Other hobbies on the potential list: knitting, scrapbooking, playing more video games—and maybe I should master a new board game, like chess. Have you seen The Queen’s Gambit yet? It truly succeeded in making what I long thought to be a rather boring game really entertaining to watch. British-Argentinian star Anya Taylor-Joy really perfected her doe-eyed stare and hard-to-read facial expressions as a glamorous and mysterious young chess prodigy who grows up struggling with addiction. It was a fun watch—plus, her outfits are amazing.

Thanks for reading! Tell me what you’re up to at home by dropping me a line at

Web Producer/Writer

Rosa joined Washingtonian in 2016 after graduating from Mount Holyoke College. She covers arts and culture for the magazine. She’s written about anti-racism efforts at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, dinosaurs in the revamped fossil hall at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, and the horrors of taking a digital detox. When she can, she performs with her family’s Puerto Rican folkloric music ensemble based in Jersey City. She lives in Adams Morgan.