Washington has become a mecca for film festivals — environmental, documentary, Jewish, and, of course, independent.
The DC Independent Film Festival kicks off Wednesday with 47 indie film premieres — and a special award for documentarian Les Blank, who will join the festival as his life and work is honored.
Blank has documented American life with films that focus on topics that include music (“Hot Pepper,” about zydeco artist Clifton Chenier) and food (“Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers”). One of his first films in the late 1960s — “God Respects Us When We Work, but Loves Us When We Dance” — was about the “new” subculture of flower children. His “Burden of Dreams,” about the making of German filmmaker Werner Herzog’s “Fitzcarraldo,” won the British Academy Award for best documentary in 1982.
The event Les Blank: Living With Film runs from 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. Thursday and will include a screening of his latest film, “Butch Anthony,” which is about a self-taught artist, “Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe,” Blank’s short film about Herzog promising to eat his shoe if Errol Morris made a film (he kept good on his promise), and clips from other films. Blank will also speak about his life and films.
On March 3 from 12:30 to 2 p.m., the festival offers a chance to take a master class with Blank for a $15 fee. (Hurry to register; there are only 25 slots.)
Other festival highlights include:
●Wednesday’s opening-night festivities kick off with a free choral performance of composer Morten Lauridsen’s work at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church (619 10th St. NW) at 5:30 p.m., followed by a screening at 7 p.m. of “Shining Night: A Portrait of Morten Lauridsen” at Landmark’s E Street Cinema (555 11th St. NW). Lauridsen will attend both the performance and the screening, and he and director Michael Stillwater will speak after the film. Tickets for the screening are $14.
●The Iranian film “The Bright Side of the Moon” will screen March 2 at 7 p.m.
●Also on March 2, a wine tasting — “Blood Red and Zombie White” — will be at 8 p.m., followed by the zombie film “The Big Bad,” and shorts “Zombie Bohemia” and “Beneath.”
●March 3 highlights include “Defining Beauty: Ms. Wheelchair America,” which screens at noon Saturday, and a series of experimental and animated films and shorts run from 4:30 to 7 p.m. There will be another zombie wine tasting with, yes, more zombie films starting at 8 p.m.
●The closing-night film on March 4 at 5 p.m. is “ Who Bombed Judi Bari ,” which argues that the Earth First organizer was falsely accused of car bombing herself.
For a full list of films and features, go to www.dciff-indie.org.