Washington West Film Festival Tells Great Stories

Second annual film fest continues through Sunday; all proceeds go to Hurricane Sandy relief.

The Washington West Film Festival has come once again to its home in Northern Virginia, playing new documentaries, shorts and feature films through Sunday. With the tag line "Story Can Change the World," WWFF is unique in all the festival circuit by donating 100 percent of all profits every year to a charity.  This year they will aid in Hurricane Sandy relief.  

This year's showings are in Reston Town Center, Reston's Center Stage and at the Angelika Mosaic Film Center in Merrifield.  

Cinema Siren is on the jury to vote for the best documentary feature, so I won't say yet what I think of those I've been poring over the last few days.  I can tell you the selection includes a new doc about the long-gone yet beloved club in Georgetown The Bayou, one called Fambul Tok about a grass-roots reconciliation charity in Sierra Leone, and I AM, which was created by director Tom Shadyac (director of Ace Ventura), who grew up in Northern Virginia (Siren Spouse's band played at his 16th birthday party 30-plus years ago). 

Friday night we enjoyed an entertaining post-screening Q&A with the energetic and inspiring director. Most screenings during the festival feature directors or special guests who are interviewed or field questions from the audience. This year, as with last year, there is a great collection of short films shown in two screenings. They are diverse and well selected, from funny or intense or dramatic live action to great animation.  

If you're missing this year, fear not. It will return next year. Founder Brad Russell, a native Northern Virginian, hopes to make Washington West one of the premier festivals in the country, while at the same time raising money for worthy causes around the world. 

With his tag line, not only does he want to inspire viewers to consider their own stories, he believes the audience becomes part of the story of the festival by attending, as all ticket sales contribute to their goal of aiding the charity chosen.  

It's great to see such a vibrant film scene developing in Northern Virginia. With such opportunities, hopefully we movie lovers will be inspired to support independent filmmakers as they release new and exciting work. Cinema Siren promises to keep you up to date with all the film-related special events happening in and around the area!

Meanwhile, good luck to all the documentary feature directors. Just finishing your films and screening them for fans makes you all winners. Cinema Siren says so. 

For a lineup of Saturday's films and more information about Washington West, visit their Web site at http://washingtonwestfilmfestival.com/.

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