Take 5 for Jan. 4 to 6

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Entertainment,Robert Fulton

Washington Jewish Film Festival, through Jan. 13

When it comes to the Washington Jewish Film Festival, director Ilya Tovbis stresses the universality of the Jewish experience. He cites love, the human condition and coming of age as just a few of the bigger ideas explored at the 23rd annual event.

"A lot of it is reinforcing this notion that the Jewish experience is an incredibly broad and encompassing one," Tovbis said.

This year's festival kicked off Thursday and runs through Jan. 13, with 55 films (33 features and 22 shorts) from 15 different countries at 10 different venues in the area. Tovbis said he curated from several hundred submissions.

Spotlights this year include French cinema, with four films in that category, and a focus on music. Tovbis highlighted "I Am Secretly an Important Man," about "The Godfather of Grunge," Jesse Bernstein; and "Orchestra of Exiles," which tackles the founding of the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra.

Tovbis, who is in his first year as the director of the festival, also noted the number of women filmmakers participating in this year's event.

In compiling this year's festival, Tovbis said his challenge was "to have a broad ranging set of stories that touch on different aspects of the Jewish experience" that appeal to different demographics. He also said he avoided having the same stories retold the same way.

"It's very important that these not be stories that are retread, they are bringing something new to a tale that is often told or a history that's often been repeated," Tovbis said.

When: Through Jan. 13

Info: Regular screenings start at $11, festival pass is $75 ($30 under 30); washingtondcjcc.org

Elvis' Birthday Fight Club at the H Street Playhouse, Friday and Saturday

This popular annual celebration of Elvis Presley's birthday is back again. The event features "fights," burlesque and Elvis-themed contests. Kittie Glitter is your host, and Candy Del Rio and the Rev. Valentine will perform.

When: 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in D.C.; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12 in Baltimore

Info: $16 in advance, $20 day of; fightclubshow.com

"Struck by Lightning" by Chris Colfer at AFI Silver Theatre, Sunday

Written by and starring Chris Colfer of "Glee" fame, "Struck By Lighting" screens for one night at AFI. Following the screening, Colfer will participate in a live, interactive Q&A.

When: 8 p.m. Sunday

Info: $12; afi.com/silver

SpeakeasyDC at the 9:30 Club, Sunday

Hear some of the best local storytelling at this "top shelf" seated SpeakeasyDC event.

When: 6 p.m. Sunday

Info: $20; 930.com

"Django" at E Street Cinema, Friday and Saturday

This is the original spaghetti western that inspired Quentin Tarantino's recent film "Django Unchained." In Italian, with English subtitles.

When: Midnight Friday and Saturday

Info: $11; landmarktheatres.com

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Author:

Robert Fulton

Examiner Correspondent
The Washington Examiner