- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 4, 2001

The Georgetown Independent Film Festival, which is in its first year, plans to serve up at least 50 new, mostly American indie films next week.
The festival kicks off with a party at 7 p.m. Thursday at Canal Square, 1054 31st St. Three days of movie screenings will follow, possibly around the clock, in the Blues Alley Annex, 3 Blues Alley, says organizer Eric Sommer.
An awards ceremony is set for next Sunday for films in five categories: documentary, feature, short, experimental, animated and black-and-white.
First prize is a "Georgie," to represent Georgetown, but Mr. Sommer declines to reveal what it will look like. Among films to be shown are "Gone With the Wieners," a feature by Marc Leland; "Strip Mall Trilogy," an experimental short by Roger Beebe; and "Duncan's Shadow," a short by Daria Sommers.
"Gone With the Wieners" is described as a comedy in the tradition of "Blazing Saddles," the 1974 spoof of Westerns directed by Mel Brooks and written with several others, including Richard Pryor.
"Strip Mall Trilogy" is labeled as a series of "three city symphonies" that attempts to liberate the color, sound and form from the sprawling consumerist landscape of postmodern America.
"Duncan's Shadow" is about a man with a serious handicap that he wants to keep a secret. But an interview to land his dream job tests his resolve.
Mr. Sommer, once a touring musician with bands such as the Byrds and the Cars and now chief executive officer of the District-based ICapture/Eric Sommer Partners, says the final schedule probably will be available tomorrow on the film festival's Web site (www.georgetownfilmfest.com). He says a special emphasis will be placed on films that feature Georgetown, whether by taking place there or having been created by local filmmakers.
The admission price is expected to be $10 a day and $25 for the opening-night party. The party will feature, among other film folk, Connie Brooks, an original cast member from Ed Wood's "Plan 9 From Outer Space," possibly the worst movie ever made, according to organizers. Also attending will be Jeff Passero, president of Passero Casting in Los Angeles.
Mr. Sommer calls the state of indie films in the Washington area an "abomination."
"In the last few years we've lost two or three theaters," he says. "Key Theatre has become Renovation Hardware Just look at McArthur Theater. It's a CVS."
Ralph Camilli, director of operations at Blues Alley, which is donating space, agrees. "For whatever reason, there are no more film houses in Georgetown that show indie films and this is a showcase for new and experimental films," he says.
Mr. Sommer says Georgetown, which celebrates its 250th anniversary this year, is losing its local flavor. It's full of high-priced national retail outlets, he says. He wants to be part of bringing back local businesses and projects to the area.
As for other film festivals in town, no one is showing as many American flicks as the Georgetown Film Festival is planning, Mr. Sommer says.
"We're looking at film with meaning," he says. "You'll walk out of this place thinking, 'I have changed, I have been affected,'" he says. "It's like reading a good O. Henry short story. We're leaving things to the imagination."

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