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Indoor Summer Film Festivals at D.C.’s Atlas Performing Arts Center

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Indoor Summer Film Festivals
Judy Garland & Charles Bickford in A Star is Born (Warner Brothers)

For those of you who would love to attend a festival of classic movies but have no desire to bear the heat and humidity, the Atlas Performing Arts Center in D.C. has just the thing for you. Not one but three separate themed film festivals will be presented at their Spenger Theatre. (Rather appropriate since the Atlas was originally a movie theater before being gutted and renovated as a multi-space arts center.

The first series (to be presented Saturday afternoons at 4:30 pm) is the 70’s Family Film Festival, a collection of family oriented movies from guess-which-decade including feature length cartoons like Charlotte’s Web and Snoopy Come Home, adaptations of classic literature like Tom Sawyer (the musical version with an adolescent Jody Foster as Becky Thatcher), The Call of the Wild (with Charlton Heston) and The Black Stallion. (Young Foster also turns up in another of the scheduled films, Bugsy Malone.) There’s even some musicals like 1776 and The Wiz. The best bets in this collection are The Muppet Movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and the original version of The Bad News Bears (with Walter Matthau).

The second series (Saturdays at 8 pm) is titled Cinema al Fresco (a.k.a. Staycation Saturdays), a collection of classic Italian films combined with American movies set and filmed in Italy. The former category includes Cinema Paradiso, La Dolce Vita, Stanno Tutti Bene (Everybody’s Fine), Seven Beauties and Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. The latter includes It Started in Naples (with Clark Gable and Sophia Loren), Three Coins in the Fountain and Nine. The highlights of this group are The Godfather II, The Talented Mr. Ripley and Roman Holiday (Audrey Hepburn’s Oscar-winning Hollywood debut).

By far, the most eclectic series is the third one, Gay 101 (Thursdays at 8 pm) which is described as “a series of films one must see to be a card-carrying Gay man.  While most are not gay-themed, all are embraced by a segment of the GLBT community.” This festival begins with a benefit showing (for One in Ten) of the recently remastered 1954 version of A Star is Born starring Judy Garland. Also included are The Women, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Auntie Mame, Suddenly Last Summer and Where the Boys Are as well as camp classics like Valley of the Dolls and Mommie Dearest. Best bets here (in addition to A Star is Born) are All About Eve and Cabaret.