The “Twilight” saga continues to dominate theatres across the globe, but movie-goers in the District have the option of a rich international movie scene.
Landmark is the nation’s largest theatre chain that shows independent films, with 55 locations in major cities like Dallas, New York City, and San Diego.
The unique variety of films is not the only draw. Stadium-style seating and even plush sofas and love-seats are available in some of their more intimate venues. If comfy seats don’t lure you in, alcoholic beverages, organic snack options or just good old-fashioned fresh-popped popcorn are also on deck.
If you’re in the mood for an international feature on a Wednesday night, Avalon Theatre is your place. The independent movie house is located in the city’s Chevy Chase neighborhood and housed in a restored historic building. It’s open daily, presenting commercial and independent films.
Every Wednesday, a different foreign film is featured at 8 p.m.
“It’s part of our mission statement, to show diverse films,” Walt Irby, Avalon’s communications manager said of Worldwide Wednesday.
The first Wednesday of every month is the Panorama of Greek Cinema series, sponsored by the Greek Embassy, the Greek Film Center and the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The series includes both new and older films.
The Avalon presents films from the Czech Republic with the help of the Czech Embassy every second Wednesday of the month as part of the DC: Lions of Czech Film series.
For those who prefer films in the language of love, French Cinémathèque is every third Wednesday of the month displaying contemporary features presented by the French Embassy and La Maison Francaise.
On the last Wednesday of every month, the Embassy of Israel and the Washington Jewish Film Festival features Reel Israel DC.
Irby said Worldwide Wednesdays host both classic and more contemporary films such as this month’s Greek feature, “Riders of Pylos,” which was released earlier this year.
“We have a pretty good turnout for all of them,” Irby said, “I think we really reach out to people in those communities.
Zoe Kosmidou, a cultural counselor with the Greek Embassy, said “the Panorama of Greek Cinema will introduce Washington to extraordinary new and old films, talented and innovative filmmakers, fascinating stories, and interesting points of view from Greece,” in a post on the Avalon’s website.
Irby said the theatre has developed great relationships with different embassies and international organizations in the city and is always looking for new film partnerships.
As a non-profit venue, the Avalon is maintained by the members of the community. They claim to be the only non-profit independent movie house in the city. Memberships to help support the maintenance of the historic facility are available and include discounted movie admissions and discounts to other surrounding businesses.
Germany in Chinatown
If German films are more up your alley, the Goethe-Institut Washington has just what you’re looking for. Films from German filmmakers are usually shown on Monday night at 6:30 p.m..
Norma Broadwater, director of public relations at the Institut, said they have been hosting the event since they opened in their Chinatown location in 1996. In 2002, they installed a stadium seating area, which offers a more authentic movie experience.
Institut events include the added elements of guest presenters, group discussions following the film and experts on the featured topic.
Broadwater said the films are usually presented in a series, focusing on a topic like the environment, the economy or a specific individual such as the current series paying homage to the late director, Christoph Schlingensief, whom the Institut notes as “one of the most renowned and creative personalities on the German cultural scene.”
“We show a wide variety of films [from] some directors that people are more familiar with, and introduce people to new directors and other styles of work,” Broadwater said.
Tickets are $7 regular admission and $4 for seniors, students and Institut members. The films are accompanied by subtitles in English and other languages.
Just across the District’s border with Maryland in downtown Silver Spring you will find the treasured AFI Silver Theatre and Culture Center. The historic Silver Theatre was saved from demolition by Montgomery County residents, and the American Film Institute and reopened the theater’s doors in 2003. Its website touts the location as a source for “independent features, foreign films, documentaries and classic cinema — including tributes, retrospectives, themed programming, anniversaries and newly restored works.”
Aside from the daily offerings, each year the nation’s capital hosts Filmfest DC, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.
The festival brings an array of films from Iran to Senegal to South Korea and Argentina that are shown in theatres around the city. Films also compete for jury-voted awards and an audience’s choice award.
Next year’s film festival is scheduled for April 12-22.
AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center
8633 Colesville Road
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Recorded Program Information: 301-495-6700
812 Seventh Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
5612 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20015
E Street Cinema
555 11th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
Bethesda Row Cinema
7235 Woodmont Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814