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Local spotlight on Thursday

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MEXICAN FILMS

Celebrate the vitality of cross-cultural documentaries at American University (4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW) with the Ambulante Film Festival. Ambulante promotes the independent film culture in Mexico, exposing groundbreaking films to areas typically unexposed to media and film. This nonprofit organization was founded in 2005 by Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Pablo Cruz under the direction of Elena Fortes.

The festivities include a conversation between Fortes, AU communication studies professor Pat Aufderheide and Ambulante Beyond Director Carolina Coppel. They will discuss the importance of documentaries in Mexico and how it's impacted students at AU.

The panel will start at 6 p.m. followed by two documentaries that include "Interview with the Earth" and "Campo 9." A reception will follow.

ARABIAN SIGHTS

The Arab world has some poignant stories to tell, and many of the most innovative films out of today are from this culture. On through Sunday, the 17th annual Arabian Sights Film Festival features a diverse selection from various Arab countries including Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, plus European co-productions. The festival showcases films that demonstrate the range and commitment of directors who strive to tell moving stories while exploring issues facing their region.

Enjoy post-screening discussions by visiting directors, as well as other special festival events. Films in this series are Washington premieres, and two are American premieres. All films have English subtitles.

This year's festival will take place in collaboration with the National Geographic Museum, currently hosting "1001 Inventions: Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization," an award-winning exhibition showcasing the scientific and cultural achievements from Muslim civilization from the seventh century onward.

Tickets for the festival are sold through filmfestdc.org/arabiansights.

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