The 11th annual Bethesda Film Festival kicks off this evening in downtown Bethesda. Seven short documentaries by local filmmakers highlight stories about history, nature, and social justice. Screenings of all seven films will take place on both Friday and Saturday evening at 7 PM at the Imagination Stage (4908 Auburn Ave, Bethesda), and will be followed by a discussion with the filmmakers. Here’s a preview:
Amor, directed by David Rochkind
Formerly a photojournalist for the New York Times and Time magazine, Rochkind moved into filmmaking in 2016. Amor follows a single mother working to raise her daughter after her husband was murdered. The 13-minute film tells the story of a woman’s journey through grief and towards building a new life for herself and her daughter.
East of the River, directed by Amin El Siwi & Phillip Bouknight
Before it was Kenilworth Park, the Northeast DC property was a garbage-burning dump. From 1942 to 1968, the District used the space, located in a predominantly Black area, for waste disposal. The film’s directors tell the story of how the park came to be and the injustices the Black community endured in the process.
The Legacy of Lee’s Flower Shop, directed by Kamilah Thurmon
Lee’s Flower shop is the oldest family-owned flower store still operating in the District. Thurmon, formerly a television producer, created a 22-minute film that races the Lee family back to 1945, when the shop opened. Explore how history has changed through the lineage of one family, which has provided flowers to the city for generations.
Never Again Para Nadie, directed by Justin Reifert and Dan Frank
The title translates to “never again for anybody,” and the film follows the dramatic events surrounding a protest at a for-profit Rhode Island detention center where ICE was imprisioning migrants. The film’s directors each have histories in documentary filmmaking and producing for a variety of outlets.
Portrait of MasVusi, directed by Lindsey Aranson
MasVusi is a DC-based drag queen, and a dedicated one at that. She’s determined to share drag with her community despite the adversities she faces—including harassment and beatings.
Rooted Wisdom: Nature’s Role in the Underground Railroad, directed by George Burroughs, Lauren Giordano, and Anthony Cohen
This film details the knowledge of nature that enslaved people fleeing to freedom must have had in order to survive in Maryland’s wilderness on the Underground Railroad. Giordano and Burroughs run Schoolhouse Farmhouse, a media company dedicated to producing films that explore people’s relationships with nature. Cohen is an American historian who has traversed 1200 miles of the Maryland historical site by foot, train, and boat.
What if it isn’t a joke, directed by Grace Sutherland
A Maryland high school student, Sutherland has made a short film that grapples with sexual assault.
Tickets for the show are $15, available here.