- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2005

The management of the Avalon Theatre (5612 Connecticut Ave. NW) is reviving a series of weekly showcases devoted to local filmmakers that had been a popular feature at Visions Cinema before its demise in 2004. Set for Wednesday evenings, the “Local Filmmaker/Community Night” program begins June 1 with “Full Moon Fables,” a three-part comedy written and directed by Ed Sherman, who will introduce and discuss his work.

Starting time for the screenings is 9:15 p.m. Admission is $8.50. Publicist Connie Poole and theater programmer Andrew Mencher, who collaborated on the prototype series at Visions, are behind the renewal Filmmakers interested in submitting their work and participating in the Avalon feedback should contact Miss Poole at Conduit Productions, 703/521-9888.

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Tom Davenport of Delaplane, Va. created a distinctive and beguiling set of movie fables by updating fairy tales to American settings, typically Appalachian, during the 1970s and 1980s. The 11 titles, mostly featurettes running from about 30 to 50 minutes, have been collected in a DVD anthology, “From the Brothers Grimm: American Versions of Folktale Classics,” that will be released next month. To celebrate this consummation, Mr. Davenport also will host a selection of his movies during two days of screenings at the American Film Institute Silver Theatre.

“Ashpet,” which transposed Cinderella to a World War II time frame, and “Jack and the Dentist’s Daughter” begin the retrospective on June 4 at 1 p.m. “Willa: An American Snow White,” which envisioned the heroine taking refuge in a traveling medicine show, screens at 5:30 p.m. the same day. The Davenport mini-festival concludes June 5 with a double bill of “Mutzmag” and “Soldier Jack, beginning at 3:30 p.m. The AFI Silver is at 8633 Colesville Road in Silver Spring. Note to parents: Since the adaptations retain certain ominous and grotesque aspects from the Grimm tradition, Mr. Davenport recommends that spectators be at least 8 years old.

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The AFI Silver and its neighboring institution, the Discovery Channel, also announced final selections for the third annual Silverdocs Festival, a showcase for documentary features and shorts. It begins a six-day run at the three Silver auditoriums June 14. The magnitude of it all — about 90 titles from 40 countries — will cause some overflow to the Round House Theatre next door. Several of the documentary seminars and conferences, in fact, will be held at the Round House from June 15 through 17.

Movies about the movies will play a prominent role. The festival begins with Stuart Samuels’ “Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream,” a possibly irresistible treasure trove of nostalgia for spectators who began trolling for offbeat or even depraved fare in the 1970s. A trailer shown at an AFI-Discovery Channel press luncheon earlier this week even had one of Mr. Samuels’ subjects making the remarkable, and historic claim that midnight movie programs were responsible for the birth of irony. Of a specialized kind, perhaps.

The concluding attraction (scheduled for June 18 at 7 p.m.) is “James Dean: Forever Young,” a new career assessment compiled by Michael J. Sheridan. Please note that the opening and closing programs are fundraisers that elevate admission prices — to $45 in the case of the June 14 screening of “Midnight Movies” at 7 p.m., and to $25 for “Forever Young” on June 18 at the same time. As a rule, single admissions are $9. AFI members, students, seniors and military personnel are eligible for discounts of $1.50.

There are also festival passes that cover myriad considerations from frequent to total attendance, ranging from $250 to $600. Those interested in the conferences, which customarily take place mornings and afternoons, will need a special pass that goes for $130. The management reminds patrons that same-day ticket sales are cash only and commence 30 minutes before showtimes.

Further information is available by calling 301/495-6720, or visiting online at SILVERDOCS.com.

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The AFI Silver will oblige “Star Wars” fans who feel the release of “Revenge of the Sith” calls for fresh looks at the previous films of the George Lucas science fiction epic. The original trilogy, consisting of “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” will be screened July 1 through 4. “Star Wars” also gets a fifth showing July 7, while the immediate predecessors to “Sith” — “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones” are set for July 1, 3 and 6.

The calendar looks flexible enough to accommodate moviegoers who desire a chronological immersion that begins with either “Star Wars” or “Menace.”

Mr. Lucas will receive the AFI’s Life Achievement Award later this year. The AFI series continues through July 14 and includes revivals of the Indiana Jones films plus Mr. Lucas’ early features, “THX-1138” and “American Graffiti.”

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