During awards season, the short-film nominees are never given the same attention as the best picture contenders or the gossip about who's wearing whom. Yet, brevity is an art and deserves a look. This week, catch screenings of the Academy Award nominees for the best live action, animated and documentary shorts at area movie theaters, where screenings will group the five nominees in each category together. The live action nominees include stories about coming of age in Somalia -- performed by a cast of Somali refugees -- and Afghanistan, while the animated nominees range from the story of man and his best friend dog to Maggie Simpson's experience at the Ayn Rand Daycare Center. If documentaries are more your speed, you'll learn about life at Florida's King's Point retirement resort, the many faces of homelessness in America, and the meaning of hair and modern womanhood through the lens of a Long Island hair salon that provides free services to women undergoing chemotherapy.
Live Action & Animation Shorts through Feb. 7 at the Landmark E Street Cinema, 555 11th Street NW. 202/783-9494. Web: landmarktheatres.com. Documentary Shorts through Feb. 7 at the West End Cinema, 2301 M Street NW. 202/419-3456. Web: westendcinema.com.
Bound for Freedom's Light: African Americans and the Civil War
This year marks the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which formally freed the slaves in the Confederacy in 1863 and led to the eventual outlaw of slavery via the 13th Amendment two years later. To commemorate the event, the National Portrait Gallery's newest exhibit will highlight the roles that individual blacks played in the Civil War and surrounding events. Opening Friday, the exhibit will showcase vintage photos and prints of Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth, as well as some lesser-known but equally important players like Gordon, the slave who escaped a Louisiana plantation to join the Union Army, and Robert Smalls, an enslaved shipman who took control of his ship and steered it to the Union, where he then served as a free man in the Union Navy.
Through March 2 at the National Portrait Gallery, Eighth & F streets NW. 202/633-8300. Web: npg.si.edu.
On Feb. 2, Catholics celebrate the Feast of Candlemas, when Mary and Joseph presented Baby Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice for his redemption and complete Mary's ritual purification. The holiday also has roots in pagan traditions marking the end of winter. While the holiday has been largely supplanted by Groundhog Day in the United States, the French still celebrate with a feast of crepes. It's said that Pope Gelasius I fed crepes to pilgrims in Rome for the feast day in 492 A.D. — and those golden pancakes look remarkably like the sun, which revelers hope will soon appear after a long, cold winter. On Saturday, the Hillwood Museum — the former estate of cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post in Upper Northwest — will celebrate La Chandeleur (Crepe Day) with a festival featuring arts and crafts, games and, of course, crepes. While feasting, hear the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable and other stories from the Brittany region, and enjoy the sounds of Moch Pryderi, a local Welsh-American band that plays traditional Celtic tunes.
Saturday at the Hillwood Estate, Museum, & Gardens, 4155 Linnean Ave. NW. 202/686-5807. Web: hillwoodmuseum.org.
Mid-Winter Family Festival
The Ottoman Empire reigned over three continents and seven centuries, yet the handicrafts from the era, particularly the rugs and other textile works, are some of the most distinct in world history. Almost all of the textile works attributed to the empire are embellished with characteristic florals, including tulips, roses, carnations, hyacinths and honeysuckles. The Textile Museum's current exhibit, "The Sultan's Garden: The Blossoming of Ottoman Art," highlights selections of Ottoman textiles from the Kalorama museum's collection of thousands of pieces, and tells the story of how these florals developed along with the empire. On Saturday, get a last look at the exhibit, which closes March 10, during the museum's fourth-annual Mid-Winter Family Festival. Throughout the day, enjoy performances fit for a sultan by the Crescent Moon Karagoz Shadow Puppet Theater and try your hand at traditional Turkish arts and crafts.
Saturday at the Textile Museum, 2320 S St. NW. 202/667-0441. Web: textilemuseum.org.
Glengarry Glen Ross
As the aftermath of the real estate crisis continues to affect the United States, David Mamet's real estate drama "Glengarry Glen Ross" is all the more relevant. The 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning play follows four greedy, desperate real estate salesmen in Chicago over two days as they use everything from lies and bribery to threats and even burglary to sell properties, including the Glengarry Highlands and the Glen Ross Farms developments. The play, which Mr. Mamet based on his brief experience working in a real estate office in Chicago in the 1960s, premiered in London in 1983 and opened on Broadway the following year, where it was nominated for four Tony Awards. You can download the 1992 film version starring Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino and Kevin Spacey — or you can head to Bethesda's Round House Theatre for the live production, which opens Wednesday.
Through March 3 at the Round House Theatre, 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda. 240/644-1100. Web: roundhousetheatre.org.