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Pick of the Pack


Iranian Film Festival

Being a filmmaker is difficult in Iran, given the government's censorship (including restrictions on how men and women can interact) and punishment for those who break the rules. For the 18th year, the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art will provide a platform for some of Iran's groundbreaking filmmakers, many of whom have been banned from and imprisoned for making films that defy the Iranian regime. The festival opens Friday with Closed Curtain, a story about a man who must hide his dog when Iran bans dog walking - a work in which Jafar Panahi explores how he was affected by his house arrest and 20-year ban on filmmaking following accusations of making propaganda against the government. On Feb. 22, Jamsheed Akrami will attend a screening of his film A Cinema of Discontent, which explores movie censorship through historical clips and interviews with 12 acclaimed filmmakers. Through Feb. 22 at the Freer Gallery of Art, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. 202/633-1000. Web:

Book Signing

James Carville & Mary Matalin

They say opposites attract - and as we approach the sure-to-be-contentious midterm election season, it's a good idea to remember that political opposites need not be enemies. On Saturday, husband-and-wife pundits James Carville, a Democrat, and Mary Matalin, a Republican, will discuss their recently released memoir, Love and War: 20 Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters, and One Louisiana Home. Their second co-authored book tells the story of how their relationship and American politics have changed over the last two decades, beginning with the 1992 presidential campaign, in which Mr. Carville helped lead Bill Clinton to victory while Ms. Matalin served as deputy campaign manager on President George H.W. Bush's losing re-election campaign. Following a discussion, the duo will sign books. Proceeds will benefit the National Press Club's Journalism Institute. Saturday at 11 a.m. at the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW. 202/662-7500. Web:


Shen Yun

In 2006, a group of Chinese performers founded Shen Yun, a company devoted to reviving through music and dance the ancient culture they believe the Communist Party had destroyed. These performers, however, practiced Falun Gong, an ancient spiritual tradition based on Buddhist and Taoist teachings emphasizing morality, meditation and exercise, which the Chinese government banned. Fearing persecution, the Shen Yun performers fled to the United States and now boast more than 200 performers in three companies that travel the world to bring ancient Chinese dance, music, and storytelling to new generations. …