The oldest independent film festival in Washington, D.C. adds another chapter to its previous 15 fests when it arrives Wednesday, February 19th, with most screenings and events at the US Navy Heritage Center. Opening night begins with the U.S. premiere of Ed Kucerak’s Canadian documentary “Partners for Peace,” about women in Israel and Palestine working together to solve the problems in the region, and concludes with the East Coast premiere of the Spanish/USA co-production “Toastmaster,” from first-time feature director Eric Bodadella, a Spanish filmmaker who spins a poetic narrative about the lost art of the Armenian toast. A post-screening toasting party follows.

As in previous years, the festival organizers (including Executive Director and Programmer Deirdre Evans-Pritchard) will be showcasing cutting edge features (9), shorts (23 live and 16 animated), and documentaries (7 features, 7 shorts) from around the world, representing a diverse creative spirit. Covering five days (February 19-23), there will be two world premieres (Tim Gordan’s “Blood and Circumstance” and Marcus Richardson’s “Sons of the City”) and a couple of U.S. ones (Matthew Kowalchuk’s Canadian feature “Lawrence & Holloman” and Amir Toodehroosta’s Iranian entry “Paat”). Saturday afternoon, at the Gala Hispanic Theater, will be the competition for the 2014 High School Student Finalists entries of nine short entries.

Among the non-film events are numerous panels, seminars, and masterclasses to be held on the weekend afternoons. Topics range from analyzing a music score (with composer Brian Wilbur Grundstrom), to the ins-and-outs of acting with Manny Pérez, to trying to start your own web series (with Rob Rafferty, the creator of the locally grown “Cap South” show).

This being the nation’s capital, there’s also a free “On the Hill Summit” starting Thursday morning at the Rayburn Building, sponsored by the Honorable Congressman Brad Sherman and the Congressional Entertainment Caucus. This will examine legislating crowd-funding and the impacts on indie film and the arts.

Some of the screenings will be held at the Goethe-Institut, as will a live experimental cinema and sound event presented by Sonic Circuits and billed as “Expanded Experimental Cinema and Music at the DCIFF.”

The festival closes with the DC premiere of “This Ain’t No Mouse Music!”, the U.S. documentary (world premiered at last year’s SXSW) by Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling (both in attendance, as are many of the festival filmmakers during their respective screenings), which follows Chris Strachwitz, a genuine music anthropologist (similar to Alan Lomax, one the great American field collectors of folk music during the last century). An Awards Night Party follows with music by the Wild Anacostias.

For more information, visit the festival website at http://dciff-indie.org/.

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