Magic Lantern, the alternative film theater which recently moved into the burgeoning downtown cultural neighborhood on 7th Street, is celebrating with a movie series of remarkable variety.

Tonight's film, at 7:30 and 9:45, is "Sambizanga," a story of the 1961 Angolan uprising. Coincidentally, Magic Lantern's co-director, Sarah Maldoror, is an Angolan whose husband has been a leader in the resistance to Portuguese rule.

"Sambizanga," named for the Luanda working-class district where the movement started, is a simple the movement started, is a simple story of a worker who is imprisoned, tortured and killed, and of his wife's search for him in government prisons.

It is a strong film. It never strays into rhetoric, concentrating instead on the human realities of the couple and their friends and enemies. The politics is there, all right, but it remains implicit, an underlying motif like the shots of a menacing sea which open and close the picture.

Other films in the series, held Wednesday nights at the theater, 443 7th St. NW, are "Bottle Babies," March 21; "The Devil and Miss Jones" (the Jean Arthur-Charles Coburn comedy), March 28, both at 7:30; "Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion," April 4 at 7:30 and 9:45; "The Popovich Brothers," a Chicago documentary, April 11 at 7:30 and 9; "Film as Art," shown free, April 18 at 7:30, and the Washington premiere of "Solzhenitsyn's Children," a humorous documentary about the new European Left, April 25 at 7:30. and 9:30.

Magic Lantern has been specializing in political, independent and Third World films in its three years here.