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Posted at 10:55 AM ET, 04/19/2006

A Filmfest Preview

By Jen Chaney

During the summer movie season that's about to crank into full, sequel-producing gear, we rarely catch any flick without having viewed the trailer online, watched the commercials on TV, seen the stars interviewed on "Good Morning, America" and read the early reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. We usually know what we're getting into before we even get into it.

That's why film festivals provide a refreshing change of pace. You can walk into a screening of, say, a random indie film from Brazil and possibly discover a hidden gem.

The potential for such discoveries is endless at this year's Filmfest DC, which kicks off tonight with a screening of "Wah-Wah" -- and an appearance by star Gabriel Byrne -- at Lisner Auditorium. More than 70 films of various genres -- foreign language, feature-length indies, documentaries -- will screen during the 12-day event. For cinema buffs, the most fun part about the festival may be the buffet-style set-up. Try whatever you want. Sometimes it will be delicious. Other times you may want to spit out what you just ate. But the joy is in the sampling.

I had the opportunity to taste a few Filmfest selections in advance. Without giving away too many details, I can recommend "Beyond Beats and Rhymes," a short documentary that is part of the Hip-Hop 4 Reel series and examines the misogynstic and homophobic lyrics that dominate much of mainstream rap music. While the issue hardly gets resolved, the responses filmmaker Byron Hurt receives from fans of the music, artists (Busta Rhymes, Mos Def and Chuck D are among those interviewed) and social scholars provide plenty of fodder for post-movie chatter. That film screens Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 8:45 p.m. at the Regal Gallery Place.

And that Brazilian gem I mentioned? I uncovered it last night when I watched, "Romeo and Juliet Get Married," a charming romantic comedy about a couple torn apart by their families' respective allegiances to rival soccer teams. It gets a little corny at times, but it still makes for a better date movie than the usual Matthew McConaughey vehicle. Catch it Sunday and Monday at 6 p.m. at the AMC Loews Wisconsin Avenue.

-- Jen

By Jen Chaney  | April 19, 2006; 10:55 AM ET
Categories:  Movies  
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