Capital Projections: Growing pains edition

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Capital Projections is The DC Line’s selective and subjective guide to some of the most interesting arthouse and repertory screenings in the coming week.


I AM NOT A WITCH

(Film Movement)

After raising suspicions in her village, 9-year old Shula (Maggie Mulubwa) is sent to a witch camp, where she’s fitted with a ribbon to prevent her from flying away. If she dares to cut the ribbon, she will turn into a goat. Fortunately, a government official takes the young witch under his wing — he’s married to one, after all. Director Rungano Nyoni, who was born in Zambia and raised in Wales, calls her feature debut a “fairy tale.” She was drawn to the contradiction in Zambia between the existence of witch camps and the nation’s matriarchal society. Set to excerpts from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons as well as village folk music, this satire is an exercise in fascinating contrasts.

Watch the trailer.

Opens today at the Avalon Theatre.


(IFC)

PICK OF THE LITTER

Think of it as Boyhood for seeing-eye dogs. This adorable documentary follows five puppies in training for the Guide Dogs for the Blind program from birth to “career assignment.” As I wrote in my Spectrum Culture review, do you need any more details? It’s big-eyed, faithful, obedient and practically immune to conventional critical faculties. It may be best for viewers to simply roll over and wait for their belly rub to turn their slight contentment into a big tail-wagging grin.

Watch the trailer.

Opens today at Landmark E Street Cinema.


(NBCFILM)

THE WILD PEAR TREE

The must-see arthouse screening this weekend takes place at the Freer Gallery of Art as part of the DC Turkish Film Festival. The U.S. premiere of the new film from Nuri Bilge Ceylan — whose Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is one of the great films of the 21st century — will feature a personal appearance by the director at Sunday’s screening.

The Wild Pear Tree is the epic tale of a young writer who’s eager to get published, but runs into problems with his father’s debt when he returns to his native village. Variety writes that the film, which was a hit at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is “another visually rich chamber piece … that builds elaborate rhetorical set pieces of astonishing density.” The movie runs for over three hours, but fans of the director’s work know that he weaves a mesmerizing spell.

Watch the trailer.

Sunday, Sept. 16, at 1 p.m. at the Freer Gallery of Art. Free.


(MUBI)

COSY DENS

This 1999 Czech comedy-drama of politics and bickering families begins at Christmas 1967 and unfolds in the months leading up to the Prague Spring. A teenage boy whose father is a Communist army officer has a crush on an upstairs neighbor whose father has been repeatedly imprisoned for speaking out against the regime. Variety wrote that the “bittersweet tale is one of the outstanding Czech films of recent times, deserving the kind of international attention Jiri Menzel and Milos Forman” attracted in the 1960s.

Watch the trailer.

Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. at Bistro Bohem. Free; reservations required by calling 202-735-5895 or emailing bistrobohem@gmail.com. Guests must arrive by 6:45 p.m. to keep their reservation.


(IMDb)

SHORT CIRCUIT

Like it or not, the day-glo colors, overproduced pop music and now regrettable hair-don’ts of the 1980s are part of our cultural history. So it practically behooves the National Museum of American History to celebrate the era — in film! And I do mean film. “The Totally 80’s Film Festival,” which runs through Sept. 30 at the Smithsonian’s Warner Bros. Theater, will screen some of its lineup in the format in which these movies are meant to be seen — no, not a worn-out VHS tape from Blockbuster, but on 35mm celluloid. As part of this weekend’s Sci-Fi-Sunday, the Smithsonian will screen this 1986 comedy about a lovable robot that thinks it’s human. The movie stars Ally Sheedy, Steve Guttenberg and Fisher Stevens, as well as character actors whom you may not have thought about in 30 years. This weekend’s screenings will kick off with Eddie Murphy Day on Saturday, Sept. 15, with Trading Places at 5:30 p.m.; Coming to America at 7:40 p.m.; and Beverly Hills Cop at 9:40 p.m. Sunday’s sci-fi program includes two more ’80s classics: The Terminator at 7:40 p.m. and RoboCop at 9:40 p.m. Note that separate admission is required for each film.

Watch the trailer for Short Circuit.

Short Circuit screens Sunday, Sept. 16, at 5:30 p.m. at the National Museum of American History’s Warner Bros. Theater. $15.


(Washington Psychotronic Film Society)

THE DRIVER’S SEAT

The Washington Psychotronic Film Society doesn’t just showcase obscure cult movies with forgotten character actors whose only magazine appearances were in horror movie publications. Sometimes its curators tap neglected titles starring legendary beauties. Such is this 1974 drama starring Elizabeth Taylor, adapted from a novel by Muriel Spark. The film society describes it as a “crazy flick about a disturbed woman running through Italy or some European countryside looking for a lover that she has never met before. Pop artist Andy Warhol pops up now and then to give Liz the willies.”

Watch the trailer.

Monday, Sept. 17, at 8 p.m. at Smoke and Barrel. Free.

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