By Indiewire | Indiewire April 11, 2005 at 2:00AM
Filmfest DC to Focus on Chinese and Indian Cinema
by Ellen Keohane
The Washington D.C. International Film Festival, taking place April 13-24 in the capital, will feature 80 new films from around the world with a special focus on Chinese and Indian cinema -- this year's theme being "From Beijing to Bollywood," organizers announced recently. For the fist time in its 19-year history, Filmfest DC will screen some films in competition, with the winner receiving the inaugural "Capital Focus Award," which includes a cash prize. Opening the event is Rituparno Ghosh's drama "Raincoat." The film, starring Aishwarya Rai, is based on the O. Henry short story, "The Gift of the Magi," about two former lovers who reminisce about their past on a rainy afternoon. Ghosh, who will be attending the opening night gala, is best known for his film "Chokher Bali: A Passion Play," which is also slated during Filmfest DC.
The American premieres of "Letter from an Unknown Woman" and Xiaolian Peng's "Shanghai Story," recent winners of China's Golden Rooster Awards, will also be featured. Directed by Jinglei Xu and based in 1940s Peking, "Letter from an Unknown Woman" is about a dying woman who finally shares her unrequited, life-long love for a man in a letter. "Shanghai Story," meanwhile, explores the impact of the Cultural Revolution on one family as four siblings return home when they learn their mother has been hospitalized. The film's director, Xiaolian Peng, will also attend the festival.
Other American premieres include "Absolut" and "The Baghdad Blogger." Directed by Romed Wyder, the Swiss-made "Absolut" is a thriller about two political activists who release a computer virus in an attempt to disrupt a summit of world leaders, while "The Baghdad Blogger" is a collection of video-diary reports from Iraq complied by blogger Salam Pax, who will personally present two new segments at the festival.
Todd Solondz's controversial "Palindromes," starring Ellen Barkin, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Stephen Adly-Guirgis, will also be screened at Filmfest DC. The dark comedy about a 12-year-old girl's quest to get pregnant first premiered at Telluride, later traveling to Toronto, Venice and Sundance, and is opening theatrically in limited release next weekend in New York and Los Angeles. The feature "Me and You and Everyone We Know" will also be included at the festival. The film explores the connections between people in an increasingly isolating world. Miranda July stars as well as directs.
Filmfest DC. will close on April 24 with Charles Dance's "Ladies in Lavender," starring Maggie Smith and Judy Dench as two sisters who nurse a shipwrecked boy back to health.
[ For a complete list of the Filmfest DC program including screening times, visit the event's http://www.filmfestdc.org ]