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Famed Guests Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Filmfest DC; Opening Night Features Gabriel Byrne

Other Festival Guests Include Sydney Pollack and Martha Reeves

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 30, 2006--(Grassroots Newswire) -- The Opening Night Gala of Filmfest DC, Washington's international film festival, will celebrate the festival's 20th anniversary with acclaimed actor Gabriel Byrne on Wednesday, April 19 at GW's Lisner Auditorium. Mr. Byrne will introduce the festival's opening night feature film, Wah-Wah, written and directed by Richard E. Grant, for which he was nominated Best Actor by the Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA).

This year's Filmfest DC features a blend of more than 70 features from countries representing nearly every continent. Participating films embody the culture, politics and music of nations as varied as Australia, Brazil, China, Ghana and India. The 12-day festival, running from April 19-30, includes opening and closing night events, discussions with directors and movie premieres.

"An Evening with Sydney Pollack" will feature the celebrated director of Tootsie, The Way We Were, Out of Africa, and The Firm, in conversation at the National Gallery of Art on Thursday, April 20. Mr. Pollack's other credits include producing Cold Mountain,The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Sliding Doors.

MOTOWN legend, Martha Reeves, will perform and talk to the audience at the screening of Dance Party: Teenarama Story. Teenarama was a groundbreaking TV show that allowed Washington's black teenagers the opportunity to dance together on UHF channel 14 from 1963 to 1970. It drew such top-tier talent as Ms. Reeves, James Brown and Marvin Gaye, and made stars of the teenagers who danced on it.

Film enthusiasts can enjoy features, documentaries and shorts from all over the globe, including the three-time award winner at Sundance, Iraq in Fragments; Three Needles and Hard Candy, both starring Sandra Oh; and Factotum, starring Matt Dillon.

The festival's "From Rio to Reel" section will showcase some of the hottest new Brazilian films, among them Romeo & Juliet Get Married and Pele Forever (Pele Eterno) about the world's best-known soccer star. This year's selection of "Hip-Hop 4 Reel" films, inspired by the growing hip-hop culture in the United States and around the world, features the Sundance hit, Beyond Beats and Rhymes; Jails, Hospitals and Hip-Hop, featuring performance artist Danny Hoch; East of Havana, the new festival hit; and Letter to the President, produced by Quincy Jones III.

Filmfest DC recognizes that diverse films cater to diverse audiences, and offers events for all ages. Filmfest DC for KIDS will screen Akeelah & the Bee, and the Cinema for Seniors is scheduled to present Only the Strong Survive, a documentary capturing the essence of soul music during the 1960s and 1970s.

Tickets for most screenings are $9 each and can be purchased in advance at www.tickets.com or by calling 1-800-955-5566, beginning April 7.
Major Filmfest DC sponsors include the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Mayor's Office of Motion Picture and Television Development, the National Endowment for the Arts, METRO, and Lexus. NBC 4 is the official television station, Delta is the official airline, WAMU 88.5 FM is the official radio station, Fogo de Chao is the official restaurant, the Hamilton Crowne Plaza is the official hotel, and Fleishman-Hillard is the official public relations firm. The Filmfest DC public information line is 202-628-FILM; its Web site is www.filmfestdc.org.
Take Metrobus or Metrorail to Filmfest DC

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For NewsWire One
Nicole Hayes, 202-828-6321

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