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Foreign Flicks with Friends

Cinema Arts Bethesda launches its 15th screening series.

Are you one of those people who stay in their seat after a movie all the way through the credits, while fellow viewers trip over you and spill bits of their leftover popcorn on you in their haste to exit? 

Are you still talking about the film all the way up the escalator, out the door, at the dinner table?

Here’s your tribe: Cinema Arts Bethesda meets early Sunday morning once a month to watch foreign and independent films and discuss them. The group is screening its 15th anniversary series beginning Sept. 25. 

Patch talked to board member Beverly Zeidenberg, a Bethesda resident who founded the group in 1996 after going to a similar group in downtown Washington. 

“I had to pay $12 for parking, the movies were not that great, and they were not announced in advance," Zeidenberg said. "I said to my girlfriend, ‘I think we can do this in Bethesda.’”  

The all-volunteer group first met in the Bethesda Theatre café, then moved to NIH, then Mazza Gallerie, and finally landed at

Zeidenberg picks the films in consultation with five fellow board members, Joshua Fried, Dona Patrick, Jameela Khan, Stan Levin (a film expert who facilitates the group’s discussions) and Sydney-Chanele Dawkins. 

“I follow all the film festivals and reviews and when our season ends in May, I spend a good part of June, July and August watching films. For every one I pick, I watch three,” said Zeidenberg. “I look for something that has some geographic content, and I’m a therapist, so I look for something with psychological depth, and something that just holds your attention. They often end up being political, but that ‘s because so many movies these days are.”

About 75 people usually attend each screening; a mix of those who’ve been involved for years and a few newbies. According to Zeidenberg, there are a lot of people in their 60s, “because we can’t get younger people to get up early in the morning.” 

“I usually try to introduce the season with something really quite notable, exceptional," Zeidenberg said. "This year it’s Poetry, from Korea. I try to end with an upbeat film, though it’s hard to find foreign films with that quality."

The closing film next May will be Belgian film Moscow, Belgium.

“This year’s all seem to have lot of psychological depth. And there’s more diversity this year in countries represented.”

The screenings will feature the work of filmmakers hailing from Denmark to Chad to Australia. However, “they’re all quite personalized," Zeidenberg said. "They don’t present global problems but stories that are intimate and personal, regardless of culture.” 

“The one word I would use to describe our films—provocative,” said Zeidenberg. “Everybody gets a chance to talk. It’s very interactive.”

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Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema, 7235 Woodmont Ave. Theater doors open at 9:30 a.m. and films start promptly at 10:00 a.m. (doors will close then). Series tickets are available 8 for $110 or 10 for $125, or individual tickets are available at the door for $15. 

Lana Halpern September 21, 2011 at 12:05 PM
When is the first film?
Karen Kullgren September 21, 2011 at 03:17 PM
The first film is Sept. 25, Lana. Full schedule is on the website, www.cineamartbethesda.org
Dona September 21, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Karen -- thanks for writing this article. It is great!

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