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Alexandria Prepares for Annual Film Festival

Four-day event runs Thursday through Sunday, and it's bigger than ever.

Thousands of film fanatics and local and international filmmakers are preparing to descend on Alexandria beginning Thursday for the Fifth Annual Alexandria Film Festival, the city’s largest to date.

The festival’s 2011 schedule includes 47 short and feature-length films and documentaries representing 14 countries. Washington-area and student filmmakers are also represented.

“Alexandria has this amazing crop of filmmakers right in our backyard, and because we have such an international presence here, this is a great opportunity to celebrate local, national and international films,” said festival spokesman Pete Hyde. “And we’ve got the perfect setting for it. So, we’re a little unusual in that we have literally communities from all over the world with some presence, so we’ve worked very hard to reach out to many international filmmakers as we can.”

Also, ambassadors from El Salvador and Costa Rica to the United States, Francisco Altschul and Muni Fueres, respectively, are scheduled to attend film showings from their respective countries.

Festival tickets are $10 per film or $75 for a four-day pass. To view a complete schedule and purchase tickets online, click here. Tickets are also available at the doors.

The festival begins Thursday with the local premiere of “Ed Hardy: Tattoo the World,” which chronicles pop icon Hardy’s unconventional rise to cult status and influence on pop culture. The opening event will feature a kick-off party at 7:30 p.m. at , located at 808 King St. A ticket for “Ed Hardy” or a film festival pass is required for entry.

“Ed Hardy” will be screened at 9 p.m. at the , 815 ½ King St. and followed by a discussion with director Emiko Omori. An after-party will follow at , 904 King St.

Two new locations will be added to this year’s festival; the and the Four Mile Run Community Center. The Four Mile Run location will feature a free, outdoor celebration of Latino films at 7 p.m. Friday.

On Friday, Altschul will attend the Latino festival and speak on devastating flooding that has affected thousands of Salvadorans. A silent auction will be held to benefit displaced individuals and families.

Friday night will feature two films from El Salvador, “Ausentes” by director Tomas Guevara and “Cinema Libertad” by director Arturo Menendez. On Saturday, Fueres will introduce the Alexandria premiere of “Gestación,” a story of two teenagers dealing with an unexpected pregnancy in today’s Costa Rica. The screening will take place at the .

Another film being presented Friday is the short drama “God and Vodka,” which explores the feelings of a writer trying to capture a relationship with a childhood friend that ended too soon. Daniel Stine, who wears multiple hats as screenwriter, director and actor, said the film was shot last year in Virginia and Maryland.

“It’s great to have it shown in the same state we shot it in,” he said.

The festival’s films range in length from several minutes to two hours and include documentaries, dramas, romances, comedies and biopics. Films included in the line-up come from regions including Western Europe, the United Kingdom and Latin America, as well as films from Israel and Afghanistan, and many filmmakers will be on hand to talk with audience members.

The festival will end Sunday with a celebration of this year’s Festival Jury Prize Winner, “Des Indiens Comme Nous” (Indians Like Us), a French documentary.

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