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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 05/23/2008

Interns' Guide: Free Movies

By Fritz Hahn

Screen on the Green shows classic movies in a picturesque setting. (Tyler Mallory)

In search of a little mindless entertainment this summer? You could always go see the latest Hollywood blockbuster ($10.50) with some popcorn and a soda ($8). Or, if you're on an intern's budget, you grab a picnic and head for one of these free film series.

See more in our Interns' Guide.

Outdoor Movies | Indoor Movies

Outdoor Movies

Once Is Never Enough: The James Bond Film Festival
Thursdays through Aug. 28 at Florida and New York avenues NE
Fridays through Aug. 22 in Rosslyn
The Georgetown Film Festival sponsors these screenings, which are showing the James Bond oeuvre from "Dr. No" through "Die Another Day." Before the evening's feature, there are two audience participation contests: The Oddjob Challenge, which requires dressing as Goldfinger's valet and tossing a bowler hat Frisbee-style to knock the head off a statue, and the James Bond Challenge, a costume contest where participants can dress as any character from any Bond film. (Bonus points if you do an impersonation.) Movies begin at dusk, and the contests start around 7.

Cox Movies Under the Moon
Nightly, June 18-22 in Fairfax, Va.
A family-friendly festival in Van Dyck Park offers recent hits like "Shrek 3," "Transformers" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." Movies begin at 8:30 p.m.; arrive up to two hours earlier to stake out your spot.

Screen on the Green
Mondays, July 14-August 11 on the National Mall
While the list of films hasn't been announced yet, the 10-year-old Screen on the Green has become a Washington summertime tradition. It's all so simple: Set up a giant movie screen steps from the Washington Monument, Smithsonian museums and U.S. Capitol, then show classic films like "Rocky," "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and "Casablanca." Thousands of fans turn out every week, so plan to arrive as early as possible to get the best patch of grass.

Comcast Outdoor Film Festival (Alexandria)
July 18-19 in Alexandria
While there's no charge to watch the movies in Ben Brenman Park, local charities benefit from sales of concessions. In the name of karma, this is one of the few times we'd suggest buying food on site rather than bringing it yourself. Films begin at 8:30.

Bethesda Outdoor Movies
Nightly, July 29-Aug.2
The intersection of Auburn and Norfolk avenues is the location for Bethesda's annual movie fest, which mixes recent hits with Hollywood classics. It's very neighborly, too -- a limited number of chairs are provided for viewers on a first-come, first-sit basis. You're also welcome to bring your own lawn chair. Films begin at 9.

Comcast Outdoor Film Festival at Strathmore
Nightly, Aug. 15-23
There's something for everyone at this 10-night festival, held on the grounds of the Mansion at Strathmore. Adults can watch "The Bourne Ultimatum," "Spiderman 3" or "The Kite Runner," kids can see "Bee Movie" or "Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix," and film buffs will enjoy vintage flicks like "Airplane." Movies begin at 8:30, and the grounds open two hours earlier. Local restaurants set up booths to sell concessions, with a portion of the proceeds going to NIH Children's Charities.

Indoor Movies

In a city where most of the museums are free, it should come as no surprise that many movies are, too. The Hirshhorn, National Gallery of Art and Library of Congress all show films on a regular basis. Sometimes they're tied to specific exhibits, but that's not always the case. You won't find "Spider-Man" or "Transformers" on any of their screens, but that can only be a good thing.

The Library of Congress
In addition to ongoing series like Tudors on Film ("Anne of 1,000 Days," "The Prince and the Pauper") and Japan at War ("The Battle of Okinawa," "The Eternal Monument"), the Library mines its vast holdings for oddball -- but no less worthy -- productions like 1946's black-and-white feature "The Queen of Burlesque" or pairings of Andy Warhol's short films. Screenings are held in the small Mary Pickford Theater, which only has 60 seats, so reservations are a must; Call 202-707-5677 during business hours no more than a week in advance. Any empty seats become available 10 minutes before the movie begins.

The Hirshhorn Museum
The ever-popular Summer Camp film series focuses on B-movies and retro "classics." This year's three-part event examines the work of producer and special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen, whose mid-'50s films used pioneering stop-motion animation techniques to portray giant monsters and attacking aliens. "It Came From Beneath the Sea" kicks things off on June 5, "20 Million Miles to Earth" follows on June 12 and there's a special Sunday afternoon timeslot for "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers." All screenings feature an introduction by film scholar David Wilt. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

The National Gallery of Art
Most of the National Gallery's movie series are tied to exhibits or other cultural events. One that's not is "Envisioning Russia: Mosfilm Studio," which runs from May through July. Highlighting the great films from Russia's largest movie studio, the lineup includes everything from the legendary "Battleship Potemkin" to a 1939 musical about poor Ukrainian tractor drivers. Throughout June, the gallery also highlights the work of Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa -- later this year, an exhibit at the Mexican Cultural Institute will feature Figueroa's photographs and posters -- and dedicates a weekend to the 1953 "Julius Caesar" starring James Mason, John Gielgud and Marlon Brando. Admission is on a first-come, first-served basis.

-- Fritz Hahn

By Fritz Hahn  | May 23, 2008; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Interns' Guide, Movies  
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There are also free concerts on Capitol Hill by the military bands. Check it out after work on the west side of the Capitol. Nice place to bring some vino and a date.

Posted by: Derek | June 9, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

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