By Walter Nicholls Posted April 14, 2009, 12:16 PM EDT
WASHINGTON Showcasing more than 80 films from around the world at nine venues across the city, the 23rd annual Washington, D.C. International Film Festival’s Filmfest DC, opens Thursday at the Harman Center for the Arts. Departures, an entry from Japan and winner of this year’s Academy Award for best foreign film, will be the first film screened; it follows a young musician and his unexpected new gig working as a mortician. Also along a musical path, a highlight of this year’s festival is the Global Rhythms series of films that celebrate artists famous in their own countries but relatively unknown in the U.S. From Singapore, 12 Lotus takes a look at getai, the Singaporean style of stage performance. Tango is the focus of Café de los Maestros, an Argentine entry that brings together 22 singers, musicians, and composers for a performance and recording session. A winner at the Tribeca Film Festival in the documentary category, Spain's entry, Old Man Bebo, recounts the life of noted Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes. General admission tickets are $10, and for groups, there are discounted Director’s and Weekday Pass packages. The festival closes April 26.