Alexandria Film Festival: Ready for a close-up


Sure, Clint Eastwood used the Masonic temple to film “J. Edgar,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Dermot Mulroney, who grew up in Alexandria. And “Remember the Titans” put Alexandria on the big screen and on the map. But the city is better known for its art galleries and antique landmarks than a penchant for the silver screen. It’s a long way from Hollywood.

For the fifth year in a row, though, the ever-expanding Alexandria Film Festival is challenging that notion. With five venues and 47 films from 25 countries — ranging from astute documentaries to heart-pumping thrillers to odd shorts — the local celebration of film has dug a foothold as one of the city’s premiere cultural events. Here are some of the highlights.

Des Indiens Comme Nous 

Winner of the festival jury prize

A group of French people share an obsession for everything American Indian. But their big dream is to travel to the United States and meet some real American Indians. When they finally arrange for a drive across the West in an RV, they discover the reality is quite different from their idealized vision.

Documentary • 55 minutes • France • Directed by Sylvie Jacquemin

Sunday, November 6 • 6:15 p.m. • George Washington Masonic Memorial

Ed Hardy Tattoo the World 

Opening night kickoff party

About an artist’s journey, his unexpected rise to cult status and his phenomenal influence on pop culture. With one foot in the world of tattooing and the other planted in the fine arts, each informed the other.

Documentary • 86 minutes • USA • Directed by Emiko Omori (in attendance)

Thursday, November 3 • 9 p.m. • Old Town Theater

One Punch at a Time 

World premiere

Asia Stevenson had a difficult childhood. But the 18-year old found love, friendship and family at the Headbangers Boxing Club in Washington, D.C. Follow Asia on her quest to qualify for the first women’s U.S. Olympic boxing team in the 2012 London games.

Documentary • 8 minutes • USA • Directed by Lawrence Dortch (in attendance with Asia)

Saturday, November 5 • 4 p.m. • Alexandria Black History Museum


World premiere

A fast-paced action-adventure about falling in love at the end of the world. When all the air on the planet instantly becomes unbreathable, two people find each other as they struggle to survive.

Drama • 14 minutes • UK • Directed by Keir Burrows

Friday, November 4 • 7:25 p.m. • The Athenaeum

Checkers at 9th & S

On Saturday afternoons, The Capitol Pool Checkers Club members gather for camaraderie, trash-talking and competitive checkers. Meet The Shark, Chicago, The Stealer, Boy Wonder, The Weasel, Johnnie Cool, The Hawk and The Master of Disaster, among others.

Documentary • 10 minutes • USA • Directed by Kaveh Rezaei (in attendance)

Saturday, November 5 • 5:10 p.m. • Alexandria Black History Museum

Joueuse (Queen to Play)

Sandrine Bonnaire and Kevin Kline shine in this sophisticated drama set in idyllic Corsica. Middle-aged chambermaid Hélène’s newfound obsession with the game of chess leads her to seek the tutelage of a reclusive American expat, transforming both of their lives in the process.

Drama • 97 minutes • France • Directed by Caroline Bottaro

Friday, November 4 • 7 p.m. • George Washington Masonic Memorial

For Aaron: The Documentary

A heart and soul film about coping with the death of a best friend by honoring life, not loss. Follow two lifelong friends embarking on the greatest journey of their young lives as they cycle across America discovering just how far friendship, faith and family will carry them.

Documentary • 111 minutes • USA • Directed and written by Justin Jarrett (in attendance)

Friday, November 4 • 7 p.m. • George Washington Masonic Memorial


A young married couple finds themselves placed on opposite sides after the Nazi occupiers learn the wife, a film actress, is of Jewish descent. Her husband, a conflicted Czechoslovak Radio journalist, believes he can protect her by becoming the voice of Nazi propaganda in the occupied country.

Drama • 98 minutes • Czech Republic • Directed by Marek Najbrt

Friday, November 4 • 7 p.m. • George Washington Masonic Memorial

A Love Story … In Milk

The path of true love is never smooth … especially if you’re a bottle of milk. No use crying over it, though. Instead, follow these star-crossed lovers from factory to fridge and beyond.

Romance • 2 minutes • UK • Written and directed by Danann Breathnach

Friday, November 4 • 7:40 p.m. • The Athenaeum

Secret Club

The film tells the story of Kyle, who is bored with high school and its equally boring clubs. But while listening to the morning announcements, he hears about the mysterious Secret Club. Writer and director Ben Kadie, 16, is the festival’s youngest featured filmmaker.

Comedy • 3 minutes • USA • Directed and written by Ben Kadi

Friday, November 4 • 8:15 p.m. • The Athenaeum

God and Vodka

A lyrical drama about a writer’s final attempt to capture the words and moments, touching and comedic, of a relationship that ended all too soon.

Romance • 28 minutes • USA • Directed and written by Daniel Stine

Friday, November 4 • 8:45 p.m. The Athenaeum

Latzuf (Floating) 

World premiere

Reut’s parents don’t know how to make her lose weight, so they send her for therapy at a children’s ward for eating disorders. In the hospital, Reut meets Lilach, who is the complete opposite of her, a skinny and pale anorexic.

Drama • 30 minutes • Israel • Directed and written by Inbal Gibrolter

Saturday, November 5 • 3 p.m. • George Washington Masonic Memorial

The Fairy

The latest lark from the semi-absurdist comedians who brought you the 2009 Alexandria Film Festival hit “Rumba.” A hotel night clerk in the French city of Le Havre meets a shoeless woman who claims to be a fairy. The fairy grants him three wishes. The clerk asks for a scooter and an endless supply of gas, but what he really wants is the love of the fairy herself.

Comedy • 93 minutes • Belgium • Directed and written by Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy

Saturday, November 4 • 7 p.m. • George Washington Masonic Memorial


A rich industrialist is brutally kidnapped. As he physically and mentally degenerates in captivity, his double life threatens to emerge while the kidnappers, police and the board of his company negotiate the ransom of €50 million euro.

Thriller • 125 minutes • France • Directed by Lucas Belvaux

Saturday, November 5 • 8:45 p.m. • George Washington Masonic Memorial

Close Ties: Tying on a New Tradition

An intimate look at a rite of passage ceremony connecting teenage boys with male role models. The ceremony at this New Orleans barbershop was created as a way to strengthen communities struggling with crime, poverty and alarming high school dropout rates.

Documentary • 30 minutes • USA • Directed by Gemal Woods (in attendance)

Saturday, November 5 • 4:25 p.m. • Alexandria Black History Museum

Festival Venues

George Washington Masonic Memorial, 101 Callahan Drive

Old Town Theater, 815 ½ King St.

The Athenaeum, 201 Prince St.

Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe St.

Four Mile Run Community Center, 4901 Mount Vernon Ave.

Tickets are $10 per film or showcase, $75 for an all-access pass.

For more information, including a full schedule, previews and ticket discounts, visit