THE "WAR FILM" series at the National Archives continues Friday at noon with a single screening of Know Your Ally: Britain, the fourth documentary Frank Capra made during his stint in the U.S. War Department during World War II. The 43-minute film, narrated by Walter Huston and scored by Dimitri Tiomkin, will be shown once at the Archives, Pennsylvania Avenue and Eighth Street NW. There is no admission charge. For information and a complete schedule, call 523- 3000.

ASIFA-Washington, the local chapter of the International Animation Conference, begins a two-day event Friday night when area film and video scholar Eric Kulberg presents a Rocky and Bullwinkle Festival at 7:30 and 9:30 in American University's Mark Wechsler Theater. Promised for the show is a complete saga "vit moose und sqvirrel" (as Natasha would say), as well as examples of "Fractured Fairy Tales," "The Poetry Corner," "Mr. Know-It- All" and, of course, Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman traveling to and fro in the Way-Back Machine. Admission for this event only is $2 for ASIFA members and AU students, and $4 for the public, Included in the cost is the opportunity to browse through and purchase authentic animated drawings, or cels, from these and other animated shows and movies.

The conference continues Saturday with a 10:30 a.m. registration and orientation period. Seminars throughout the day include "Protecting Your Animated Work" with lawyer Len Pojunas; ASIFA-Washington president Larry Lauria on "Animation on TV"; Kulberg again on music videos; and Bonnie Willette on an animation technique called pixilation. General admission to all daytime events is $10 for ASIFA Washington members and AU students, and $18 for the public.

The climax of this two-day event is a program featuring animator and historian John Canemaker introducing and discussing his work at 7:30 and 9:30 in the Wechsler Theater. Tickets are $2.50 for members and students, $5 for the public. For a complete schedule, information and reservations, call 885- 2040.

Friday night's attraction at the Hirshhorn Museum is the second and final screening of the Giancarlo Giannini comedy Where's Picone? at 8. (Giannini and his leading lady, Lina Sastri, both won the Italian Oscar equivalent last year for their performances.)

Saturday at 1, there'll be a second show of New Spirit in Painting, Michael Blackwood's hour-long survey of recent works by David Salle, George Baselitz, Francesco Clemente, Julian Schnabel and others.

Thursday at noon, David Sylvester's filmic birthday card to artist Francis Bacon, Francis Bacon and the Brutality of Fact, will be shown. Thursday at 8 p.m., the Hirshhorn will screen Daniel Schmid's pseudo-documentary Tosca's Kiss (about a retirement home for opera singers). All films are free. Call 357- 2700.

Fans of post-apocalyptic cinema will want to take a look at Geoff Murphy's highly touted end-of-the-world saga The Quiet Earth, screening Friday night at 7 as part of the American Film Institute Theater's ongoing festival of films from New Zealand. Murphy's two most prominent films, Utu and Goodbye Pork Pie, will screen later in the series, which runs through October 29.

Other attractions in the festival this weekend include the melodramatic Constance (Saturday at 6), Vincent Ward's Vigil (showing Sunday at 7:45), and the high-tech horror romp Death Warmed Up (Monday at 9). All 29 films in the festival will be shown just once. For further information and a schedule of all AFI events (which include a Garbo festival still in progress), call 785-4601.

The Biograph Theater has yet another regional premiere this weekend in its ongong Soviet film program -- Nikita Mikhalkov's 1984 chamber drama Without Witness, which will play with his 1978 art-house hit A Slave of Love Friday through Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday, the seminal work of Sergei Eisenstein will be showcased with a triple bill of Strike, Potemkin, and Alexander Nevsky. Call 333-2696 for details.

The Georgetown University Center for Contemporary Arab Studies will conclude the first American film retrospective of Egyptian director Youssef Chahine with a pair of double bills at the Biograph Theater Saturday and Sunday at noon. Saturday, the bill will be his 1979 Berlin Film Festival winner Alexandria .. . Why? and its sequel, the 1982 drama An Egyptian Story. Sunday's pairing is his 1969 drama The Land (recently voted the best Egyptian film ever made, by that country's critics) and the Algerian co-production The Return of the Prodigal Son. Both programs are free, but be forewarned: Each film runs a bit over two hours, so the days will be full ones. For information, call 625-3128.

Ann Hui's striking Chinese film Boat People will be shown Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Reston Community Center Theater, 2310 Colts Neck Road in Reston. The screening is free and open to the public. Call 476-4500 or 450- 2571.

For the 22nd straight year, the Department of Adult Education for the Montgomery County Public Schools will present a series of lectures featuring travel adventure films from all over the world, introduced by the hearty travelers who made them. The series begins Monday at 8 when Ralph Gerstle will host Sri Lanka -- Resplendent Ceylon at Bethesda- Chevy Chase High School, 4301 East West Highway in Bethesda. The following night Gerstle will screen Bermuda Is Another World and speak on the colony's history, at Paint Branch High School, 14121 Old Columbia Pike in Burtonsville. The first round concludes Wednesday at Richard Montgomery High School, 250 Richard Montgomery Avenue in Bethesda, when Gerstle will present Guatemala and the Yucatan.

Future lectures will touch on such locations as Alaska, Sweden, Japan and the Falkland Islands. Each show will be held at one of the three schools mentioned above. Tickets are $2.50 for adults and $1 for Montgomery County Public School students; season tickets, good for seven shows at any of the locations, are $12 for adults and $5 for children. All programs start at 8, and will last approximately two hours. For further information and the complete schedule, call 301/942-8304.

Gallery, a new short film by local filmmaker Suzanne Curran, will have its first public showings Tuesday through next Friday at 3 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art's East Building Auditorium. The location is fitting, since the film is about the architectural marvel that I.M. Pei designed. The free screening will follow the main feature, A Place to Be, which commences at 2 on eachof those days.

Doreen Burnett, associate producer of "Gallery," will be curating a series of art films at the gallery. To be called "Innovative Visions," the series will feature newly produced work with art-related subject matter and/or innovative technique. Filmmakers interested in having their work screened should contact Burnett or Jack Shainman at 462-3497.

Local film and videomaker Darrell Landrum will present "The Landrum Multi-Image Video Show" at the AFI Theater on Thursday at 7:30. Presented in cooperation with Sony, the show will feature video projections of open-heart surgery, Ronald Reagan, Pearl Bailey and sports highlights shown simultaneously on nine screens. Also shown will be selections from Landrum's works, which have won awards in New York, San Francisco and Texas. The show is free. For more information, call 342-0330.

According to the Washington-based Motion Picture Information Service, the area's 10 top- grossing pictures for the week ending September 26 were, in descending order, Back to the Future (still on 18 screens in three full months of release); Creator (debuting strongly at 13 houses); Plenty (bowing in its exclusive area engagement); Compromising Positions (continuing on 13 screens in its first month); Rambo (fighting back on the list by expanding from 4 to 21 houses in week 18); Silverado (gaining two screens to 10 in its 11th week); The Mutilator (a one-week wonder at 19 houses); Pee-wee's Big Adventure (down from 16 to 12 screens in week 7); Kiss of the Spider Woman (staying at two houses in its sixth week); and Cocoon (dropping five screens to nine houses in week 14).

PAGES OF FILM HISTORY -- Those in the film business celebrating birthdays this date include Charlton Heston, Roger Moore and Susan Sarandon. Two popular television programs debuted on October 4: "Ted Mack's Amateur Hour" (1949) and "Leave It to Beaver" (1957).

Donald Pleasence, Glynis Johns and producer-director Joshua Logan celebrate birthdays Saturday, which is also the 38th anniversary of the first telecast of a presidential speech (by Harry Truman).

Janet Gaynor, Shana Alexander and Britt Ekland are all celebrating on Sunday. On that date in 1889, Thomas Edison projected film in his labs for the first time.