DC is a good place to be for fans of the movies, and not just because it provides a marble-laden backdrop for the occasional political thriller.
What other town lets adventurous cineasts catch every film nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards, one night at a time leading up to the ceremony, for the low, low price of nothing?
Sure, you still have to pay to see the nominees for Best Picture, but just for good measure this week, you can watch last year’s Best Picture winner for free on an outdoor big screen surrounded by some dazzling works of art.
Or if the Oscar race isn’t your speed, you can catch a silent film that may still ring true nearly a century later, a fish-out-of-water documentary about an American basketball player in Iran, or a couple of Star Trek episodes that don’t feature Capt. Kirk.
Here’s the list of free movies for the week starting Feb. 16:
- 2pm: One a Minute (1919). A silent film that asks what happens when a mom-and-pop drug store is threatened by a new, big chain pharmacy? Produced by Thomas Ince, who’s credited with setting the stage for the Hollywood studio system. Preceded by a Thomas Ince-produced short, O Mimi San. With live music by pianist Andrew Simpson. At the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Concourse, 4th St. and Constitution Ave. NW.
- 4:30pm: Nothing but a Man (1964). Starring Ivan Dixon and Abbey Lincoln as an African-American couple who face down an unsupportive preacher father and a racist small town int the early 1960s. At the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Concourse, 4th St. and Constitution Ave. NW.
- 10:30am: A quadruple-feature of films by and about dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. It begins with the Ai-directed Sichuan earthquake documentary So Sorry (2011), followed by the British career retrospective Without Fear or Favor (2010), then it’s Fairytale (2007), a two-and-a-half hour documentary about Ai’s piece in which he invited 1,001 Chinese citizens to Germany. The program concludes with Disturbing the Peace (2009), which shows Ai directly confronting police over the jailing of a civil rights advocate. Part of the Ai Weiwei exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum, 700 Independence Ave. SW.
- 2pm: No Men Allowed (2011). An Iranian romantic comedy about students at an all-girl’s school who try to set their strict headmistress up with the school’s first male teacher. Part of the Iranian Film Festival at the Freer Gallery’s Meyer Auditorium, 1050 Independence Ave. SW.
- 4:30pm: (2010), a documentary about screen legend Ava Gardner’s love affair with Spain and her love-hate relationship with the films she made there. Part of the series “Isaki Lacuesta: The Artist’s Ruse” at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Concourse, 4th St. and Constitution Ave. NW.
- 8pm: Dolemite (1975). The blaxploitation classic starring Rudy Ray Moore as a pimp who’s set up for a crime he didn’t commit, and enlists his call girls to go after the rival who framed him. Part of the Washington Psychotropic Film Society’s salute to Black History Month at McFadden’s, 2401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
- 7pm: Out of Respect: A Story of Five (2010), a documentary about five homeless gay young people searching for jobs on the streets of Milwaukee. Includes a post-screening Q&A via Skype with filmmaker Tess Gallun. A $10 donation is suggested, benefiting the “Out of Respect” educational outreach program, and Bloombars, where the film will be screened. 3222 11st St. NW.
- 7pm: The Artist (2011). Winner of five Academy Awards , including Best Picture, this silent film tells the story of a silent film star who struggles with the transition to talkies. At the Kogod Courtyard between the American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F Streets, NW.
- 7pm: Searching for Sugar Man (2012). The National Archives begins its ninth annual screening of the five nominees for Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards with this South African film about two men who wonder whatever happened to their favorite rock star, 1970s folk rocker Rodriguez. At the Archives’ William G. McGowan Theater, 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
- 7pm: The Gatekeepers (2012). The National Archives’ Best Documentary Feature nominee screenings continues with this film, featuring interviews with all the surviving heads of Israel’s highly secretive security agency Shin Bet. At the William G. McGowan Theater, 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
- 7:30pm: a double-feature of Star Trek episodes, including the unaired pilot for the original series, “The Cage,” and the pilot for the late 90s spinoff Deep Space Nine, “Emissary.” Part of the series “Star Trek: Where No Shatner Has Gone Before” at the Library of Congress Packard Campus Theater, 19053 Mount Pony Rd., Culpeper, Va.
- 7pm: How to Survive a Plague (2012). The third Best Documentary Feature nominee to be screened at the National Archives, this film tells how the efforts of two advocacy groups, ACT UP and TAG, helped to make AIDS a treatable disease and no longer a death sentence. At the William G. McGowan Theater, 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.
- 7pm: The Iran Job (2012). A documentary about Kevin Sheppard, an African-American who agrees to play pro basketball in Iran, at the height of US tensions with Tehran. Part of the Iranian Film Festival at the Freer Gallery’s Meyer Auditorium, 1050 Independence Ave. SW.
- 7:30pm: It’s a Date (1940), starring Deanna Durbin as an aspiring actress who has to compete with her mother for the lead in a major new play. At the Library of Congress Packard Campus Theater, 19053 Mount Pony Rd., Culpeper, Va.