A CELEBRATION of the sublime, ridiculous artistry of Mel Brooks gets underway Friday at the American Film Institute's Silver Theatre (8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring), which over the next few weeks will show some of Brooks's classic comedies on the big screen.
"Still Blazing: Mel Brooks" begins at 5 with a screening of "The Producers," Brooks's 1968 film that spawned the hit Broadway musical (a film version of the latter opens in December) and the very funny story line on HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm." The movie, starring Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel as the Broadway sharpies who try to bilk their way to fortune and get fame instead, will screen again Saturday at 1 and 8, Sunday at 3:30 and Monday at 8:30.
The retrospective continues through Oct. 31, with screenings of "Spaceballs" (1987), "Blazing Saddles" (1974) and "Young Frankenstein" (1974). Admission is $9.25 ($7.50 for seniors, students and AFI members). For more information, call 301-495-6700 or visit www.afi.com/silver.
A LITTLE ITALY
On Tuesday, the Washington, Italia 2005 festival kicks off its six-day series of Italian films -- some new, some old -- with the world premiere of "Forever Blues," actor and director Franco Nero's film about an autistic boy who forms an unlikely relationship with an elderly blues musician. Nero will introduce the film and answer questions after the screening, which will begin at 7.
Other notables who will be in town for the festival include Martin Scorsese's longtime art director, Dante Ferretti, who will introduce Scorsese's 1999 documentary "My Voyage to Italy" with set decorator Francesca Lo Schiavo on Oct. 15. Admission is free. Most screenings will be at Loews Cineplex (3111 K St. NW) in Georgetown. Call 202-237-2080 or visit www.washingtonitalia.com.
The first Amnesty International Film Festival to come to Washington continues this weekend, with a screening Friday of "State of Fear," Pamela Yates's documentary about the battle between security and democracy as it has been played out in Peru during the vicious civil war there.
The festival wraps up Saturday with a day-long program of films, including "Little Peace of Mine," about a children's peace movement in Israel; "War Games," about athletic competitions amid the blood and terror of Sudan's own conflict; "Mardi Gras: Made in China" about the supply chain of those funky beads hanging on your rearview mirror; and "Innocent Voices," Luis Mandoki's fictionalized version of the story of screenwriter Oscar Torres, who at a young age was forced to become the head of his household when his father left to join the civil war then raging in El Salvador.
Co-sponsored by National Geographic, the festival is at the National Geographic Society's Grosvenor Auditorium, 1600 M St. NW. Admission is $8 ($6 for students, children younger than 12, and Amnesty International and National Geographic members.) Call 202-857-7700 or visit www.nationalgeographic.com/nglive.
AT JAMMIN' JAVA
Does the world need another film festival? Some folks in Vienna think so. On Sunday at 5, indie music-and-coffee spot Jammin' Java (227 Maple Ave.) will play host to the first Mid-Atlantic Film Festival, specializing in short works by filmmakers from Washington, Maryland and Virginia. Admission is $10. Call 703-255-1566.
-- Ann Hornaday