THE SMITHSONIAN Resident Associate Program begins a natural history film and lecture series Friday at noon with a double bill of two half-hour movies, Garden of Eden and The Sea: A Quest for Our Future.

August 23 at noon, the attraction will be Annapurna, a 60-minute documentary on Maurice Herzog's Himalayan expedition. The final film in the series, Do We Really Need the Rockies?, will be shown August 30 at noon; the hour-long movie explores the shale oil industry in the Rockies. All films are free, and will be shown in the Baird Auditorium, Museum of Natural History Building. Call 357- 2700.

Continuing RAP programs include "The Best of Charlie Chaplin," which will feature The Gold Rush Tuesday at 8 in Baird Auditorium; and the "Roman Holiday" festival, presenting Daniel Schmid's 1984 quasi-documentary Tosca's Kiss (a humorous look at a retirement home for opera singers), Wednesday at 8 in the Carmichael Auditorium, Museum of American History Building. Admission for each film is $4 for RAP members, $5.50 for non-members. Call 357-3030 for further information.

The Circle Theater organization will open six new screens in Bowie Friday, in an attached complex directly behind the Market Place Mall, 3208 Superior Lane. While the theaters are part of the renovated and newly enclosed mall, the construction of the Market Place Cinema Six marks the first time in recent years that an entirely new structure has been built to house theaters (the overwhelming majority of screens created today are wedged into existing spaces). The largest screen in the sixplex features the Dolby/Kintek stereo system, with room for 70mm installation if patrons make the complex a hit.

The big news in repertory offerings continues to be the "Films of Japan" program at the Biograph, which this weekend offers a double bill of Kihachi Okamoto's Kill (1968) and Sword of Doom (1966). Both are quintessential Okamoto, a director whose style is described by festival programmer Michael Jeck as "a skillful combination of violence and hilarity."

Tuesday through Thursday, the Washington premiere of Masahiro Shinoda's poetic 1977 drama The Ballad of Orin will share the bill with his 1979 fable Demon Pond. For showtimes, call the Biograph at 333-2696.

The American Film Institute Theater begins a four-film tribute to Great Britain's Ealing Studios this Saturday at 6. Screening then will be producer Michael Balcon's first comedy for the company, 1948's Passport to Pimlico, starring Stanley Holloway, Margaret Rutherford and Hermione Baddeley. The rarely seen Hue and Cry follows Monday at 7 and again Wednesday at 9. Another Stanley Holloway vehicle, The Titfield Thunderfoot, willbe shown Tuesday at 7 and Thursday at 8:45. The series concludes with Alexander MacKendrick's comedy classic Whiskey Galore (aka Tight Little Island) August 26 at 9 and again August 28 at 7. Call 785-4601.

Its always a pleasure to report on local folks who've hit the big time. Recent successes include actor Daniel Stern ("Diner," "Breaking Away" and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School), rocker Joan Jett (Wheaton High School) and actress Helen Slater ("Supergirl" and Potomac's Wayside Elementary School). Now add to the list Kent Beyda.

Who?

Kent Beyda, the editor of the current hit Fright Night.

A graduate of Bethesda's Walt Whitman High School (1971) and Boston University (1975), he struck out for the West Coast in the mid '70s with no job prospects, but managed to hook on as job as a production assistant on the John Cassavetes film "Opening Night." That job led to an assistant editor post, and then, he says, "when the money ran out and everyone else quit, I actually got to do some editing."

While making a delivery to MGM, he befriended a secretary who introduced him around at New World Pictures, which was at the time still run by Roger Corman. A low- budget indoctrination of the finest kind followed, with credits on, among other films, "Saturday the 14th," "The Howling," "Rock 'n' Roll High School" and "Get Crazy." As one of three editors responsible for editing 50 hours of 16mm footage into the 85 minutes of "This Is Spinal Tap," Beyda's stock soared, resulting in the main editor credit on "Fright Night."

How far back does Beyda's love of film go? "When we went to Europe," says his father, Joseph Beyda, a real estate agent here, "he was always the cameraman."