Wondering how to spend precious cinema/television/couch potato time? The American Film Institute is there for you, having announced its official selections of AFI Awards 2013, the 10 movies and 10 television programs it thinks everyone should check out.
For Washington viewers, the television list shows a significant interest in capital doings, with four of the 10 taking place, fictionally at least, in D.C.: “The Americans,” “House of Cards,” “Scandal” and “Veep.”
The movie list doesn’t have a Washington flick per se, although it’s certainly one that contains its fair share of issues of interest to the political set, particularly “12 Years a Slave,” “Captain Phillips” “Fruitvale Station” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Eat, read, drink and watch movies. Sounds like a pretty good week.
Eat for a Cause
A quartet of deliciousness is teaming up on Monday to feed not just D.C.’s discriminating palates, but the needy as well. Toki Underground, Maketto, Buffalo & Bergen and Rappahannock DC have put together a nice four-course meal at Rappahannock Oyster Bar at Union Market, with proceeds going to benefit Miriam’s Kitchen. Full story
The years have not been kind to the early Hollywood films of the silent era, but if a congressionally mandated report has any sway, the public might get to see more of these cultural treasures.
From 1912 to 1929, American studios produced nearly 11,000 silent feature films, but only 14 percent of those movies have survived in their original 35mm format. About 11 percent of those films survive in complete form as either foreign versions or in lower-quality formats, such as 28mm or 16mm. Another 5 percent are incomplete, either surviving in an abridged form or with portions missing. And of the 3,311 films that survived in any form or format, 886 of those were found in foreign countries.
Those findings are part of a report released Wednesday by the Library of Congress and commissioned by the National Film Preservation Board, “The Survival of American Silent Feature Films: 1912-1929.” The report’s author, David Pierce, exhaustively details how the surviving silent-era films survived neglect and mismanagement, sometimes through painstaking efforts and sometimes through pure dumb luck. One short feature, Mary Pickford’s 1911 short “Their First Misunderstanding,” was found in a barn, for instance.
Washingtonians and Polandphiles will get not one but at least two chances to see the new film “Walesa, Man of Hope,” the story of how Lech Walesa went from working-class hero to chairman of the National Committee of Solidarity to Nobel laureate to president of a democratic Poland.
The Embassy of Poland is hosting a screening of the film on Wednesday in the Capitol Visitor Center, featuring Walesa, the film’s director Andrzej Wajda and Sens. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., and Jim Risch, R-Idaho. Then the film will get top billing at the American Film Institute’s European Union Film Showcase at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Md., on Thursday. That screening and reception will feature Robert Wieckiewicz, who plays Walesa in the film. The Silver will show the film again on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The movie is Poland’s official selection for the 2013 Academy Awards foreign film competition.
The movie awards season is upon us. And while it’s not exactly the Academy Awards, there will certainly be a red carpet at the National Archives this week when Steven Spielberg is honored for his contribution to American culture. And that’s not all for a week that has every aspect of cinema represented.
From Private Ryan to Abe Lincoln
The Foundation for the National Archives is giving Spielberg its Records of Achievement Award on Tuesday for the film icon’s cinematic legacy. Leading up to the Tuesday award reception, the Archives has been showing some of Spielberg’s classic work, starting with “Saving Private Ryan” last week and culminating with a screening Monday of 2012′s “Lincoln,” a movie that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., arranged for senators to see on the Capitol grounds earlier this year. “Lincoln,” which scored Daniel Day-Lewis another best actor Oscar for his titular role, starts at 7 p.m. Free (first come, first served) at the William G. McGowan Theater at 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
For something completely different, the folks over at Atlantic Exchange are showing the new documentary “Narco Cultura” at the West End Cinema at 2301 M St. NW on Tuesday. This film, about the musical subculture of the drug trade in North America’s borderlands, looks kind of harrowing. Director Shaul Schwarz will be there to discuss the film with Atlantic Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the show starting at 7 p.m. Discussion to follow. RSVP at email@example.com.
The Printed Word Strikes Back
If you find the need to break from the moving image, Politics and Prose and the National Press Club are sponsoring the 36th annual Book Fair and Author Night at the Press Club (529 14th St. NW) on Tuesday night from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. More than 90 scribes will be on hand to hobnob and talk about their books, including Alice McDermott, David Wiesner, Mark Leibovich, Joe Yonan and even a public official or two — Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, we’re looking at you. All books need to be purchased at the fair. The event helps support the NPC’s journalism institute. Tickets are $10 for the public, $5 for members of Politics and Prose or the Press Club.
A Virtuous End to the Week
To round out the week, how about stopping by Hill Center at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE on Friday for the latest in its Pre-Code Film Screenings series. For this week’s journey into the land of giddily wicked flicks, Hill Center will show “Virtue,” a gritty 1932 urban thriller starring Carole Lombard as a street-smart gal in New York City who befriends a cabbie and gets involved in a murder.
That chill in the air this month is even more reason to stock up on stuff to do around Capitol Hill. Dwindling light doesn’t mean dwindling cool things to do.
Hill Center’s Pre-Code Cinema Series
Hill Center debuts its series looking at the racier side of early Hollywood on Friday night with the 1933 Barbara Stanwyck flick “Baby Face.” Critic Nell Minnow and writer Margaret Talbot will lead discussions of the movies, which represent a tone and time in cinema when the Hays Code guidelines for themes and behavior the movies could portray was for the most part disregarded. Free, but register online at hillcenterdc.org. 7 p.m. at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.
The Hillys Are Here
The 2013 Hillys Award Gala, which honors the Capitol Hill area’s favorite businesses, including restaurants, health and beauty services, home and garden services, retailers, nonprofits and art venues, among many categories, are Saturday night at Nationals Park’s Stars and Stripes Club, from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. A production of CHAMPS, Capitol Hill’s Chamber of Commerce, tickets start at $125 for members. For information about attending or to buy tickets, go to champ.memberclicks.net.
Days of D.C. Dining Past
Sure things are hopping in Washington’s restaurant scene right now, a remarkable turn of events for a city that felt somewhat culinarily stagnant in the recent past. But the current boom taking hold in places like 14th Street and Barracks Row is not the first one to take hold in D.C. John DeFerrari is talking about his latest book, “Historic Restaurants of Washington D.C.” at 2 p.m. Sunday at Hill Center. In addition to a fascinating sociological look at Washington’s development, dating back to the 19th century, DeFerrari’s book is a nicely put together document that should be of interest to any dining buff or local historian. Free.
It’s hard to believe but at one point, the movie theater in Union Station, which has been closed since 2009, represented a refined experience.
The movie theater at Union Station, closed since 2009, opened to great fanfare. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Twenty-five years ago, Washington braced for the Nov. 18 grand opening of the AMC Union Station 9, at the time a state-of-the-art facility with TXH Dolby stereo, “large curved screens” and “exclusive cupholder armrests,” according to an advertisement in the Nov. 13, 1988, edition of Roll Call.
A special preview weekend featured screenings on Nov. 11 of “Shanghai Express” and “Twentieth Century” with a “dessert and cognac reception” to follow the Marlene Dietrich and Carole Lombard vehicles from the 1930s. To sync the theater with its railroad and Metro roots, the Nov. 12 and 13 special screenings included ”train classics” such as “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Silver Streak,” and “Strangers on a Train.”
Ah, how times have changed. As anyone familiar with the Union Station theater knows now, the real entertainment would eventually be provided by the audiences. People liked to talk back to the screen, sort of the way baseball fans cheer on Jayson Werth or boo Justin Upton. One Christmas season a few years back, during a screening of “Syriana,” a fellow patron spread out his gifts and proceeded to wrap them during the show. It was all good fun, unless, of course, you were there to see a movie.
You’ve heard of food deserts, where neighborhoods are cut off from fresh food and groceries. A lesser-known cousin is the movie-desert, which could accurately describe the Capitol Hill area since the Union Station theaters closed in October of 2009. But just wait, we’re about to be awash in screens.
The movie theater at Union Station closed in October 2009. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
First came last week’s news that Landmark Theatres is going to build a 10-screen theater, part of a larger retail and residential development, in NoMa at New York Avenue and N Street Northeast. Then this week, the Angelika Film Center announced it would open an eight-screener next to Union Market. These would go along with a planned development by Showplace Icon of a 16-screen theater near Nationals Park. Thanks to The Washington Post’s Capital Business for pointing all this screen madness out, as well as for its nifty graphic showing theaters of Washington’s past and present.
Whew. None of these screens will start digitally projecting for a few years now, but it looks like one won’t have to wait for summer and fall outdoor series to check out a movie near Capitol Hill soon. Now if we could just get someone to reopen the Penn Theater to movies …
The Penn Theater on Capitol Hill is an architectural icon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
It’s a long weekend, but there’s plenty to do around Capitol Hill, starting tonight with the Roll Call Book Club and continuing through the weekend, when visitors to the Library of Congress can see a copy of the Gettysburg Address.
Winston Groom’s ‘Aviators’
“Forrest Gump” author Winston Groom’s latest book, “The Aviators,” came out Nov. 5, and the author himself is dropping by the Roll Call Book Club on Friday to discuss it and sign his books at CQ Roll Call, 77 K St. NE at 6 p.m. For this nonfiction book, he tells the story of the early years of aviation, focusing on how Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle and Charles Lindbergh helped shape things. The event is sold out, but keep checking Eventbrite’s listing, as some folks have had to beg off, leaving a couple spots here and there for the taking.
Mothers, Lock Up Your Sons
The Union Market Drive-In wraps up its fall Encore Series season Friday night with a screening of “Bridesmaids,” which was chosen by patrons via social media. And what does that say that the popular choice is rated R? That we love comedies about Gen X slackers who are afraid of commitment and drink too much! As Union Market says on its website, the film is “not recommended for children.” Hey, they might as well know what life has in store, no? Free. Gates open at 6 p.m., show starts at 7:30 p.m.
Four Score and …
The Nicolay copy of the Gettysburg Address, which many historians presume to be the first draft, will be displayed at the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building’s Great Hall, starting Friday through Nov. 19, the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s delivery of the address in Gettysburg, Pa. On Nov. 20, the Nicolay copy will head to the LOC’s Civil War in America exhibit on the second floor of the Jefferson Building. First Street and Independence Avenue SE. Free.
Jury Notice for an Art Show
The first annual EMULSION: East City Art regional juried show opens on Nov. 9 at Gallery O on H, at 1354 H St. NE. The opening reception is at the gallery from 7 to 10 p.m. the same day. The exhibition runs through Jan. 18. With so many neighborhoods opening up for artists in the eastern part of the District, this could be a landmark event.
Union Market continues to proceed with what can only be regarded as a plan to take over the world. Need evidence? How about its plans to be open six days a week and having The Walkmen play at the buzzy food and food-stuffs market.
(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Starting Nov. 12, the market will expand from being open five days a week to six. Currently, the market is open Wednesday through Sunday with current hours from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. On Nov. 12, the market will open on Tuesdays from here on out.
But the new hours are just the latest expansion into the D.C. consciousness. They pick people up for lunch with their Roadie shuttle, host a pop-up Toki Underground stall, project drive-in movies, provide a landing zone for Crafty Bastards and are even clearing some space for The Walkmen to help inaugurate the new second-floor performance space, Dock 5, on Nov. 30.
The indie-rock faves, all of whom are D.C. natives, will perform with Sunwolf and DJ Will Eastman.
Tickets start at $25 for the gig and can be purchased at Ticketfly. Doors open at 7 p.m., tunes at 8 p.m.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Washington has long been an epicenter for bluegrass and jazz. If you’re interested in checking out both proud genres on Capitol Hill, Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital is hosting some fine performers in its Abraham Lincoln Hall this week.
Bluegrass on Pennsylvania Avenue
First up is Jim Hurst, a performer who has been shortlisted for the 2013 International Bluegrass Music Association’s Guitarist of the Year, who will play at Hill Center on Monday at 7 p.m. To prime the pump, Hurst will be on local station WAMU’s bluegrass program at 9 a.m. with Katy Daley (which can be found at 105.5 FM in D.C.) It’s $15 in advance and $20 at the door at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. To get tickets, go to Hill Center’s website.
Jazz Things Up
On Wednesday, bassist Eric Wheeler will perform a variety of jazz styles at Hill Center that show the range of the form — particularly how it relates to jazz musicians in the District, such as Duke Ellington, Billy Taylor and many more. Wheeler is a District native who leads the Hill Center Jazz Ensemble and is a fixture at such jazz venues at Bohemian Caverns on U Street.
Winston Groom Stops By
Winston Groom is set to helm the latest installment of the Roll Call Book Club on Friday at 6 p.m. The author of “Forrest Gump” has a new book out this week, “The Aviators,” which takes a look at the early years of aviation and three men who helped define it: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle and Charles Lindbergh. The event, at the CQ Roll Call offices at 77 K St. NE, is sold out and bulging at the seams, so if you’ve RSVP’d “yes” but know you won’t be able to make it, please let the folks at Eventbrite know so that others can come see Groom and get their book signed.
The Last Picture Show
Friday is the last show of the season for Union Market’s fall drive-in movie series. The summer series was so popular that the folks at 1309 Fifth St. NE arranged an autumn go-round, and gave us free outdoor showings of “Caddyshack,” “Julie and Julia,” “Good Will Hunting” and “Evan Almighty.” So what’s on tap for Friday? That’s up to you. Union Market is hosting a people’s choice vote for the flick — you can cast your ballot via their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the show, whichever it is, begins at 7:30 p.m.
Happy Day of the Dead! There’s no way around it now: We’re firmly in the grip of fall, hurtling toward winter. Before we get to the really cold stuff, there’s time to do some autumn-appropriate stuff right here on Capitol Hill.
An Almighty Drive-In Experience
Union Market continues its fall season drive-in series on Friday with an All Saints Day showing of “Evan Almighty” at the Union Market Drive-In encore series. God, played by Morgan Freeman (no one else is allowed to play the big guy), asks Rep. Evan Baxter (Steve Carell) to build an ark in anticipation of a flood. The congressman obliges. In 2007, when the movie came out, this seemed far-fetched. In 2013, after observing the last few collections of freshman who have been elected, it seems feasible.
Gates open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30. Free, at 1309 Fifth St. NE.
Pottery on the Hill
Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital is hosting Pottery on the Hill this weekend, starting with a reception on Friday and extending into the weekend. The exhibit will showcase 16 artists, and folks will have the opportunity to both view and buy. Among the potters is former Washington Redskin fan favorite and renaissance man Chris Cooley, who seems to be holding up just fine in his post-NFL life.
Tickets to Friday’s reception are $25 and available here. That shindig starts at 6:30 p.m. at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Cooley will also be giving talks at noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday about his life as a sportsman and artist.
Street Level View
If you’d like your art in a different medium, check out the new exhibit Above the Radar III at The Fridge on Barracks Row. The exhibit shows off 25 artists from Los Angeles, New York and abroad, starting on Saturday. Curator Luna George brings many facets of the urban art experience, from street art to surrealism and more, for a month-long show. Among the artists showing are Cat Cult, Peeta, Robots Will Kill and XIST. Saturday’s opening reception is from 7 to 11 p.m. and is free; Sunday’s neighborhood reception is from noon to 4 p.m. and is also free, all at 516 1/2 Eighth St. SE.
New Columbia Distillers, the team behind the District’s Green Hat Gin, releases its new gin for the season, “Ginavit,” at the Ivy City distillery at 1832 Fenwick St. NE on Saturday. The portmanteau of two excellent spirits, gin and aquavit, suggests an interesting flavor. “This is a hardy and savory cool weather gin,” John Uselton, the co-owner and distiller said in a release, promising a mix of “Scandinavian aquavit botanicals” and gin botanicals. They’re only making 100 cases, so drink it while you can. Suggested retail is $40, and your first chance to get it is on Saturday. Whatever’s left over heads to restaurants and retailers the next week.
Halloween isn’t technically until Oct. 31, but it’s always a good idea to get a head start. Lucky for us, Capitol Hill obliges a-plenty. Here are a few choice options to get ready for All Hallow’s Eve.
The Fridge, the multipurpose gallery/performance space on Barracks Row at 516 1/2 Eighth St. SE is hosting a little Halloween carnival: Alley Cats Halloween/Dia de Muertos Artists Market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Fridge bills it as a place to pick up “some inexpensive, but artsy, party favors for your Halloween shindig” and a place to meet folks from “D.C.’s unique art community.”
What better place to hang out this time of year than Congressional Cemetery? Last week, the cemetery hosted its annual Dead Man’s Run 5K. This Saturday, they’ve got their Ghosts and Goblets Soiree. A general admission ticket for $60 gets you four drinks, live entertainment, a heated tent and “visits from some of the 65,000 local ‘residents.’” At 1801 E St. SE. Purchase tickets at eventbrite.
Belga Café’s Halloween plans coincide with their ninth anniversary celebration. Saturday brings their Pajama Brunch, which will provide those who dress in their jammies some free bubbly, while Sunday brings their Early Halloween Brunch. Come in a costume and the restaurant says they’ll have a surprise. Trick or treat, or moules frites? At 514 Eighth St. SE.
Political journalist Jeff Greenfield gets a nice one-two punch for his most recent creative ventures today, with the release of his book “If Kennedy Lived: The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy: An Alternate History” and the world premiere of “What If …? Armageddon 1962″ on the Military Channel.
President John F. Kennedy, left, Speaker Sam Rayburn, center and Vice President Lyndon Johnson in 1961. (CQ Roll Call File Photo.)
“In the case of John Kennedy, there were so many possible turning points that would have ended either his life or his political life before Dallas,” Greenfield said, ticking off the multiple times JFK almost bought it, whether by scarlet fever as a youth or his near miss in World War II in the Solomon Islands.
Heck, “maybe [Richard Nixon] has a better make-up man” during the 1960 presidential debates, Greenfield said. That sentiment of “what if?” infuses both the new book and the documentary, which is based on a chapter from Greenfield’s previous book of alternate history, “Then Everything Changed.” Full story
Now that the shutdown is behind us, the full parking lots around the Capitol complex show clearly that Hill staffers have come back to work in full force this week. Because the next shutdown and debt crisis won’t start developing for a couple more months hence, there’s plenty of time to settle back in to regular life on Capitol Hill.
Karaoke in the Capital
The American Association of Political Consultants’ Mid-Atlantic chapter is putting on its third annual Karaoke in the Capital at the Rock & Roll Hotel on Wednesday. Hacks, flacks, lobbyists, pros, Democrats and Republicans are all welcome to belt out a few tunes at 1353 H St. NE. Proceeds go to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, a charity that donates instruments to schools and helps bring musical education to kids who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to it. It’s $15 in advance or at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the alleged entertainment begins at 8 p.m.
Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital will be a hothouse for documentary films this week. “The Graduates/Los Graduados,” the story of several Latino students in the United States, screens Tuesday at 7 p.m. On Wednesday, “Herman’s House” screens at 7 p.m. The movie is about Herman Wallace, a prisoner who spent more than 40 years in solitary confinement in Louisiana and worked with artist Jackie Sumell on a “dream house,” as well as the human rights issue his case has brought to the fore. And on Friday, the Smithsonian Channel’s “Incredible Flying Cars” series will touch down for a showing of “Vertical Take-Off.” All screenings are free, but registration ahead of time on Hill Center’s website is appreciated.
Middleburg Film Festival
The maiden voyage of the Middleburg Film Festival gets under way Thursday, and the intimate venues and vibe in horse country provide a full slate of great looking movies for the capital’s cinematic set. Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” kicks things off on Thursday, and Friday, Saturday and Sunday are packed with fare such as Alex Gibney’s documentary “The Armstrong Lie” about Lance Armstrong’s doping, “Capital,” the latest political thriller from legendary director Costa-Gavras, and “August: Osage County” by John Wells.
Roll Call After Dark is about what Washington does when it's not at work.
The District of Columbia is a cultural capital where you can you get your kicks from movies projected on the National Mall, lectures on vermouth or Russian avant-garde art. There's always something to do.
Jason Dick is the Hill Life editor for Roll Call and has also worked at Greenwire, CongressDaily and National Journal Daily during his time in Washington. @jasonjdick