Tonight, the Maryland Film Festival presents Life After War, a moving documentary about what "nation-building" means on the ground in Afghanistan. It's part of an extraordinary fund-raising event: a benefit for Afghans for Civil Society (ACS) at the Maryland Institute College of Art's Hall at Brown Center, 1301 Mount Royal Ave.
Before the 7 p.m. screening, Afghan ambassador Said Tayab Jawad will present a recorded introduction from Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai. Afterward, WYPR's Marc Steiner will moderate a discussion with Karzai's brother, Qayum Karzai, founder and president of ACS, and the film's director, Brian Knappenberger.
The film centers on National Public Radio reporter Sarah Chayes. TV and book critic John Leonard summed up its power both as a frontline document and a counterpoint to cautionary tales of journalism such as Shattered Glass: " ... in order to choose Life After War, Sarah Chayes quit her job as a correspondent for NPR, after Algeria, Lebanon, Israel, Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo. There she was in Afghanistan. She stopped writing and started doing something about the craters around her, as field director of the Kandahar office of Afghans for Civil Society, building villages instead of bombing. This is how we save our souls, the exact opposite of slitting throats."
Qayum Karzai's Tapas Teatro restaurant has donated food for a 6 p.m. reception where Afghan crafts and clothing will be on sale. General admission is $25 (patrons' tickets are sold out). All proceeds go to ACS. To reserve tickets, call 410-752-8083 or go online to www.mdfilmfest .com.
Bernardo Bertolucci's controversial tale of a brother, sister and friend - cinephiles all - caught up in a steamy menage amid the political tumult of Paris in May 1968 is this week's entry in Cinema Sundays at the Charles. In The New York Times, the movie's most eloquent defender, critic Terrence Rafferty, called the characters "hothouse flower children, grown in the dark, smoky screening room of the Paris Cinematheque."
Loren Glass of Towson University will introduce the film and lead the discussion afterward.
Coffee and bagels: 9:45 a.m. Screening: 10:30 a.m. Admission: $15. Call 410-727-FILM or go to www.cinemasundays.com.