We've got a classic black-and-white feature for the traditionalists. There's a riveting documentary about a young actress battling cancer for the wellness-oriented. And, since it's D.C., there are loads of options with international appeal. Take it from us: These picks are the ideal palate cleanser after months of cheesy blockbusters and even cheesier romcoms. Oh, and did we mention they're free?
To get a double dose of music and movies, head to the National Gallery of Art for the Ciné-Concert on January 12. Enjoy a live orchestra as you watch two shorts and one feature length, The General, starring legendary actor Buster Keaton. Maybe you’ve never heard of this silent flick (get it?), but it repeatedly tops lists of the greatest films ever made.
National Gallery of Art, 6th and Constitution Avenue NW; 202-737-4215.
Picasso once said, “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge" — and the two-part "Indestructible" series at the Hirshhorn aims to prove him right. On January 13, Cologne-based filmmaker Christiane Büchner will introduce a series of shorts based around the theme of destruction. The second night of the series takes place on January 27.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 700 Independence Avenue SW; 202-633-4674.
On January 16, head to Restorative Health's Center for Integrated Medicine for a screening of Crazy Sexy Cancer. The buzzy 2007 documentary chronicles how actress/lifestyle guru Kris Carr coped with a cancer diagnosis at 31. While it may sound like a downer, Carr’s story of recovery will leave you inspired to take charge of your health in 2014.
Restorative Health, 4801 Wisconsin Avenue NW; 202-244-6661.
If you cherish TV above all other art forms, you'll want to mark your calendars to see The Network on January 13. Set in Afghanistan, the documentary provides a behind-the-scenes look at the country’s largest and most successful television station. That might not sound like the most riveting subject, but 10 years ago, TV was illegal in Afghanistan. Now, it's become the country's primary form of entertainment and social change.
Mortara Center for International Studies, 3600 N Street Northwest; 202-687-6514.
Jafar Panahi, the director/producer of Closed Curtain, has one crazy backstory. In 2010, Panahi was sentenced to six years of house arrest and banned from filmmaking for 20 years after being accused of engaging in propaganda against the Iranian government. Closed Curtain delves deeper into the effects of his punishment and focuses on art that springs out of frustration. Catch the screening at the Freer and Sackler Galleries on January 12.
Freer and Sackler Galleries, 1050 Independence Ave SW; 202-633-1000.
Socially conscious film fans will want to visit the Goethe-Institut come February. For those interested in African history, there's the Afrofuturism series and discussion on February 3. Expect movies that address themes and concerns of African diaspora, using elements of science fiction and magic realism to examine the past, present, and future for Africans. From February 10 through 12, you can see flicks that highlight nuclear and radioactive issues during the first-ever Uranium Film Festival.
Goethe-Institut, 812 7th Street NW; 202-289-1200.