THIS SATURDAY Liberty Productions winds up a month of shooting in Baltimore and then heads for Paris to finish filming Liberty, the movie about the Statue of Liberty. The company has been shooting on location in the Maryland port town since late October because "Baltimore is just perfect for the skyline -- it's just like New York was in the 1880s," says Tracy Seifert, manager for Central Casting in Baltimore.
At least 75 percent of the three-hour docudrama will be Baltimore footage and the rest will have a Parisian setting. The film is expected to air on NBC in April in conjunction with the statue's 100th anniversary celebration. Joining George Kennedy, Carrie Fisher, LeVar Burton and Christopher Sarandon in the cast are about 1,500 Baltimoreans hired as non-union extras, and another 25 day players with short speaking parts.
The cameras have been rolling from sunrise to sunset at Fells Point, Mount Vernon Square and at a location near Harborplace. Shooting on Friday is at Fort Smallwood just outside Baltimore, and wraps up on Saturday at Pier 5 near Harborplace.
The American Film Institute's Zany Comedy series continues on Friday evening with Mae West's Belle of the Nineties and She Done Him Wrong beginning at 9. Saturday's features begin at 8:30 p.m. with the Marx Brothers' Horse Feathers and A Day at the Races; and Sunday's 8:30 program includes Harry Langdon's 1926 comedy The Strong Man and Long Pants, both directed by Frank Capra. On Thursday, Jack Benny's Buck Benny Rides Again screens at 7 followed at 8:45 by a double billing of Harold Lloyd's famous Safety Last and The Freshman. Two separate admissions will be charged for the Benny and Lloyd films. AFI members' rates are $3; non-members $4; students, seniors and members' guests, $3.50. Call 785- 4600 or 785-4601 for details.
The Biograph's tribute to Francois Truffaut continues through Christmas Eve. The Green Room and The Last Metro are scheduled for Friday through Monday. For showtimes, call 333-2696.
On Saturday afternoon the theater will host the Fourth Asian American Film Festival with separate programs beginning at 12:10 and 3 p.m. Call 946-9313 for a line-up.
The Checkerboard Foundation, Inc., a New York-based non-profit company that produces film and video on the American arts, just wound up three days of interviews and shooting at the Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW. Checkerboard, with the cooperation of the gallery, is in the midst of completing a 30- minute historical documentary about the gallery and its founders, Duncan and Majorie Phillips, who opened the gallery in 1921.
"The production is a historical perspective on this unique couple," says producer and director Ed Howard. "The gallery was the first to show contemporary art in the U.S."
Howard's fascination with the Phillips Collection began in the late '50s when he was a student at the University of Virginia and made frequent trips to Washington to visit the Phillips Collection.
The documentary will include clips from a January 1984 interview with Marjorie Phillips recalling the Collection's early days. She died last June at the age of 90.
Among those interviewed in Washington last weekend were columnist Joe Alsop, Washington Post Chairman of the Board Katharine Graham and artist Sam Gilliam, who brought along half a dozen kids from the Children's Studio School.
The production is expected to be ready in time for the Phillips Collection's celebration of Duncan Phillips' 100th birthday anniversary in June. Checkerboard will also make the film available to other galleries, museums and universities.
When Capital Film Laboratories closed is doors in Southwest Washington in mid- 1981 after 31 years of processing motion pictures, nearly a thousand reels of industrial and commercial footage were left behind. But before the building was leveled, a longtime company employee managed to rescue miles of film ranging from government documentaries and trade association films to television commercials.
Doug Smith, a technician when he joined Capital in 1956 and later a sales representative, hired four men and loaded a rented truck with "literally hundreds and hundreds of cans of film," which he's since kept in storage. Though many agencies have already retrieved their film, Smith says, he still has plenty of 16mm and 35mm original and printing negatives waiting to be returned to their rightful owners.
"He saved us. We can't put a value on it but we're very glad to have the originals," says Will Dooley, a public affairs officer with the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, after the agency recovered several reels of aerial photography interpretations of soil, forests and water locations. "They're fairly old but they're still the only films on the market about these subjects," says Dooley. "Without him those shows would have been wiped out of existence."
But after nearly 41/2 years of being responsible for the film, Smith is now fielding fewer than one claim a month, he says; he's now making a "last-ditch effort to return the film elements to their owners."
Smith is charging a total of $70 to cover storage expenses. He can be reached in Oakton at 938-3311.
American University is sponsoring its annual Hungarian Film Festival this weekend. "Exciting Voices from Eastern Europe -- An Examination of Contemporary Hungarian Cinema" features subtitled films from two of Hungary's top directors. One of them is Janos Rozsa, who taught several film courses at the university last winter.
We're Getting Along, directed by Laszlo Lugossy, kicks off the festival on Saturday evening at 7. At 9, Rozsa's Mascot will be shown. Two other Rozsa titles, Sunday Daughters and Grimaces will be screened Sunday starting at 7 p.m. Nightly admission for both flicks is $2.50 for AU students, $4 for all others. Call 885-2040.
Rozsa isn't the only big-name filmmaker to teach in town. Washingtonian independent filmmaker Paul Wagner who, with Smithsonian Institution folklorist Marjorie Hunt, captured a Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar last spring for The Stone Carvers, will teach classes for the Open University in December and January.
"How to Start a Career in Independent Film Making" is a 21/2-hour seminar about the step- by-step process of film production. The classes are $24 each, limited to 60 per class, and are scheduled for Wednesday, December 18 and Tuesday, January 21 at 7 p.m. each night. To register call 966-9606.
SHORT SUBJECTS -- The National Archives' (Pennsylvania Avenue at Eighth Street NW) War Film series continues Friday at noon with the 1983 movie The Story of Chaim Rumkowski and the Jews of Lodz. It's free . . . Also free is the National Museum of American History's noon series in Carmichael Auditorium. On Wednesday, MGM's 1951 production of Kim, starring Errol Flynn, will be shown.