Arts Desk

This Week in Repertory Film: Ventana Andina, The Last Command

The repertory film roundup is on a bit of a South American kick lately with the spotlight on Lucy Walker's Waste Land two weeks ago and the Brazilian Film Festival last month. Today is no exception, as the Artisphere plays host to Ventana Andina 2010. This mini-festival, curated by National Geographic Live editorial manager Rock Wheeler, puts the focus on films and filmmakers from the Andes that are rarely seen in the U.S.

A pair of environmentally themed documentaries lead the docket. La Oroya, a 28-minute short about the Peruvian city of the same name, depicts the hardships endured by a community impacted by reckless mining operations where lead poisoning and other effects of eight decades of mineral extraction with lax oversight led the Blacksmith Institute to declare the city one of the world's 10 most polluted. Choropampa, first released in 2003, looks at another Peruvian village devastated by mining-related accidents, but one in which anger over a mercury spill foments a civil uprising.

Among this year's selection is Airamppo, a 2008 experimental film by directors Alexander Muñoz Ramirez and Miguel Valverde Botello about the residents of a small mountain town including its invisible mayor, a young girl and a hippie drunk off of chicha de jora, a beverage made from fermented maize that typically carries a low ABV.

At the Artisphere. 1101 Wilson Blvd, Arlington. Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m. $10 per film, $25 for three film pass. (703-875-1100)

Dept. of Russian Folk Tales: The National Gallery of Art's series of early 20th century films accompanied by live music continues Saturday with The Last Command, Josef von Sternberg's 1928 tale of a Tsarist Russian general who runs afoul of the Bolsheviks only to end up a flat-broke movie extra. Emil Jannings, who before starring in many Nazi propaganda films and becoming Goebbel's favorite actor, enjoyed a solid Western career in the silent era, peaking with The Last Command, for which he was awarded the first Academy Award for Best Actor. His later career as a face of National Socialism aside, Jannings' turn as a broken man grasping at straws in Tinseltown is one of the film industry's first great self-satires.

At the National Gallery of Art East Wing. 4th Street NW. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Free.

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