Editors' pick

Film Forward


Editorial Review

On Thursday, film buffs will face a difficult choice as 10 independent films inundate the Mall, screening between 6 and 6:30 p.m.

The films — presented by “Film Forward,” an international yearlong educational program sponsored by the Sundance Institute and a consortia of federal arts agencies — include five selections from the United States and five international films. The program has traveled around the world, screening a few films at a time, to promote cross-cultural understanding and acceptance.

Each of the filmmakers and several famous actors such as Alfre Woodard, Kerry Washington and Forest Whitaker are expected to make appearances in conjunction with the screenings, making “Film Forward” more than worthy of your Thursday night.

Though you may want to be in 10 places at once, the schedule forces a decision. Will it be Oscar-nominated “Winter’s Bone” or the buzzed-about Iraqi film “Son of Babylon”? The San Francisco, Latino-focused “La Mission” or the wildly popular coming-of-age New Zealand film “Boy”? Many of these could be difficult to find elsewhere on the big screen, so pick wisely and get your tickets soon — tickets to the free screening of “Freedom Riders” have already been snatched up.

Here are your choices:

- “La Mission,” in which a Latino father living in San Francisco’s Mission District comes face to face with his teenage son’s homosexuality.

<- “Winter’s Bone,” the story of a courageous 17-year-old girl trying to get to the bottom of her father’s role in the local drug trade.

- “Son of Babylon,” about a young Kurdish boy and his grandmother who search for their missing father/son in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s fall from power.

- “Udaan,” an Indian film and official selection at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival about a boy who, after eight years of boarding school, returns to his small industrial home town.

- “Boy,” a New Zealand film that follows a young boy whose hoodlum father returns home after many years away.

- “Last Train Home,” a film by Chinese-Canadian director Lixin Fan about a migrant worker family in China trying to reunite with distant family.

- “A Small Act,” the story of a Kenyan man who repays the kindness a Swedish stranger once showed him by setting up a scholarship fund.

- “Afghan Star,” which chronicles the lives of four competitors in the Afghan pop-singing competition.

- “Amreeka,” in which a divorced Palestinian woman moves to rural Illinois with her son.

The program takes place at various venues, including most of the Smithsonian museums, the National Gallery of Art and the National Archives. All shows cost $10, except the sold-out “Freedom Riders” and the “Son of Babylon” screening at the National Gallery of Art, both of which are free.