July 2014


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Cover Story

Long-Suffering Spain Stumbles
Forward in Road to Recovery

a5.cover.spain.homeSpanish Ambassador Ramón Gil-Casares says his country can finally see the light at the end of a long tunnel littered with economic malaise, crippling unemployment and toxic debt. Read More 

People of World Influence

Ex-Envoy Sounded Alarm on Nigeria
Long Before #BringBackOurGirls

a1.powi.campbell.homeThe abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls woke the world up to the savagery of Boko Haram but it probably came as little surprise to John Campbell, one of America's foremost experts on Nigeria. Read More 


Peter Selfridge, New Protocol Chief,
Meets Diplomats at Mount Vernon

a2.selfridge.vernon.homePeter Selfridge made his debut as protocol chief at a reception at Mount Vernon attended by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and diplomats from 60 countries ranging from Benin to Papua New Guinea to El Salvador. Read More

The Benghazi Conspiracy

Benghazi Tragedy: Vast Conspiracy
Or Conspiracy Theorists' Dream?

a3.benghazi.obama.homeThe deaths of four Americans in Benghazi has spawned more than dozen congressional hearings, 25,000 pages of documents, 50 briefings and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of conspiracy theories. Read More

Inundated with Apathy

Balkan States Cast Aside Hostilities
In Aftermath of Disastrous Flooding

a4.balkan.flooding.homeEnvoys from three former Yugoslav republics that once waged war against each other are banding together to raise money — and awareness — after the worst flooding to hit the Balkans in more than a century. Read More

Deciphering Diplospeak

Bland State Department Statements
Say A Lot About U.S. Foreign Policy

a6.state.department.homeParsing the generic press releases and statements that the State Department regularly cranks out can reveal surprising tidbits about America's relations with other countries. Read More

Diego Garcia Battle

Mauritius Lobbies to Regain Control
Of Diego Garcia, Site of U.S. Base

a7.diego.garcia.homeDiego Garcia, a remote speck of land in the middle of the Indian Ocean, is at the heart of a brewing battle between two world powers and Mauritius. Read More

Book Review

Into the Fire: Academic Emerges
From Political Plunge Enlightened

a8.book.fire.ashes.homeIn his memoir "Fire and Ashes," Michael Ignatieff does something few politicians ever do: He talks openly about losing. Read More


Better Bedside Manner:
Worth the Investment?

a9.medical.manner.homeDoes a doctor's bedside manner really matter? According to research, yes it does. In fact, good patient communication can improve outcomes for some chronic conditions as much as well-established medical treatments can. Read More


Ex-Envoy Sounded Alarm on Nigeria Long Before #BringBackOurGirls

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By Michael Coleman

This spring, as news of the abduction of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by the radical Islamic group Boko Haram spread throughout the world, many Americans were riveted by the sensational story and finally woke up to the carnage that has bedeviled Africa’s most populous country for years.

Photo: Council on Foreign Relations

Eventually, every major U.S. news network covered the brazenly frightening kidnapping and a new hashtag, #BringBackOurGirls, exploded across social media, attracting the attention of celebrities, members of Congress and even first lady Michelle Obama.

Fast forward three months.

The Nigerian schoolgirls — abducted in protest of their “Western” education and threatened to be sold off for as little as $12 — are still missing. Nigerian officials have issued conflicting accounts on efforts to rescue the girls, only reinforcing impressions of the government’s impotence and incompetence.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram, in its ongoing campaign to impose strict Islamic Sharia law on the country, has escalated its murderous rampages, slaughtering hundreds in early June after its members posed as a Nigerian military unit sent to protect villagers. Reports have also surfaced of at least two other mass kidnappings of girls (and boys) since April. Other spectacular attacks have reached deep into the capital of Abuja, far from the group’s stomping ground in the northeast. In all, Boko Haram has killed at least 4,000 people in the last four years, Christians and Muslims alike, and driven over half a million more from their homes.

Boko Haram’s reign of terror no longer dominates global newscasts, but American officials and African experts continue to pay close attention to the Islamic group that threatens the stability of Africa’s largest economy.

John Campbell, who served as U.S. ambassador to Nigeria from 2004 to 2007, is among the world’s foremost experts on Nigeria and has been sounding the alarm about its problems for years. Campbell’s 2010 book “Nigeria: Dancing on the Brink,” reprinted last year, explores the country’s precarious political state, as well as the radical Islamic violence plaguing the country’s northern sections. Now a senior fellow for Africa policy studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Campbell told The Diplomat in an interview at CFR’s downtown office that Boko Haram wants to create a breakaway Islamic state in the religiously mixed country of 170 million people where Muslims make up the majority in the north while Christians dominate the south.

Although Boko Haram — whose name, loosely translated from the Hausa dialect, means “Western education is forbidden” — is comprised of Islamic radicals, its agenda is different than other anti-Western jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda or the Taliban. In fact, some experts say the highly splintered group is inspired as much by opportunistic banditry and local grievances as it is by religious ideology.

“Boko Haram is a product of uniquely Nigerian factors and its focus is on the destruction of the Nigerian government,” Campbell explained. “It doesn’t have an international focus and it is not part of an international jihad. But its rhetoric is becoming increasingly anti-American, particularly as we are more and more associated with the Jonathan government.”

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has drawn intense criticism for his handling of the crisis. He refused to acknowledge the schoolgirl kidnappings for weeks (while his wife ordered the arrest of protesters pleading for the girls’ return) — a symptom of the president’s longstanding reluctance to forcefully confront Boko Haram.

Photo: UN Photo
A rally in Lagos calls for the return of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted in April by the extremist group Boko Haram, which has terrorized northern Nigeria in its campaign to impose strict Islamic Sharia law on the country.

That reticence stems in part from the country’s delicate, ethnically dictated political balance. The presidency traditionally alternates between a Christian and a Muslim to keep religious rivalries in check. Jonathan, a Christian southerner, took power in 2010 after the death of his Muslim predecessor. Some say he’s breaking this informal gentleman’s agreement by running for re-election in 2015.

As a result, even though he declared a state of emergency in the north, Jonathan has seemed hesitant to wage open war against Boko Haram, perhaps for fear of alienating the region’s Muslim majority. Some segments of Nigeria’s security forces, whose political loyalties are dubious, may even want to see Jonathan fail.

Whatever the case, the military’s reputation is not much better than the president’s. After the schoolgirl kidnappings, reports surfaced that the military knew about the attack in advance but did nothing to stop it. Other news reports indicate that some members have provided arms and information to Boko Haram. The Nigerian armed forces have long been criticized for being too disorganized, disinterested, ill equipped and corrupt to confront the extremist group. Some blame the military’s heavy-handed campaign of retribution, including arbitrary detentions and “disappearances,” for fueling the insurgency in the north.

This record of human rights abuses has kept the United States from cooperating with Nigeria’s army more closely in the past. But the recent violence seems to have changed the calculus. President Obama has deployed a group of U.S. officials to aid in the search for the missing schoolgirls, along with drones to patrol northeastern Nigeria, a move Campbell likened to searching for a needle in a haystack.

“Don’t hold your breath on what surveillance cameras can actually find,” he warned of the heavily forested terrain. “The territory involved is larger than all the New England states combined.”

And despite the global outrage, Campbell said the world’s last remaining superpower is highly unlikely to send American troops to Nigeria.

“Can you imagine the level of support for that after Afghanistan or Iraq?” he asked, instead suggesting that the United States engage in intelligence sharing and military training.

“What I would like to do is try to build [support] for targeted humanitarian assistance in the north. The number of internally displaced citizens is very large. A governor of a northern state told me he had 2 million of them in his state. Now that would be an extremely soft number but clearly there are a lot of displaced citizens,” Campbell said.

“We are quite good at humanitarian assistance through medicine, and in terms of countering the narrative that the United States is at war with Islam, those bags of beans that say, ‘These are a gift from the U.S.,’ that helps and we’re good at it.”

Nigeria could use the help. Even though it recently overtook South Africa as the continent’s largest economy after a statistical re-evaluation, Nigeria has been chronically mismanaged since its independence in 1960. It has failed to spread its oil windfall to the bulk of its people, notably in the undeveloped north. In fact, poverty has actually increased despite steady GDP growth, with more than 60 percent of the population living on less than $1 dollar a day as of 2010. Boko Haram gained a foothold by denouncing the rampant corruption that has fueled resentment in the north, where male unemployment exceeds 50 percent.

The Obama administration has no intention of sending boots into this cauldron of economic disparity and ethnic strife. Likewise, President Jonathan refuses to consider foreign troops on his soil.

But some very influential Americans contend more should be done.

“If they knew where they were, I certainly would send in U.S. troops to rescue them, in a New York minute, without permission of the host country,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said shortly after the girls were abducted.

That prompted a sharp rebuke from Nigeria’s ambassador in Washington, Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye, who advised McCain’s “well-paid staff to brief him properly on Nigeria and accord our country as well as the office of the president the respect they deserve.”

UN Photo / Mark Garten
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan holds a press conference at U.N. headquarters in New York in 2011. Some Nigerians have criticized Jonathan for what they say is a weak response to the barrage of terrorist attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram in recent years.

Hillary Clinton has also come under fire because as secretary of state, she refused to place Boko Haram on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations after the group bombed the U.N. headquarters in Abuja in 2011.

But Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary for African affairs at the time, defended the decision, saying such a listing would’ve conferred legitimacy on Boko Haram, possibly sparked retaliation against Western interests, and diverted attention from the homegrown nature of the group’s complaints.

The State Department did eventually list Boko Haram and an offshoot group as terrorist organizations under John Kerry. The listing allows Washington to freeze members’ assets, impose travel bans and prohibit Americans from offering them material support.

Campbell said the criticism of Clinton was unwarranted and that he still opposes the listing, which has done little to quell the violence thus far.

“It was not remotely justified,” Campbell said. “I along with some 20 others who watch Nigeria quite closely sent a letter to Secretary Clinton that Boko Haram not be so designated. The reasons we advanced are still every bit as relevant now as they were then. It’s water over the dam … but I continue to think the designation is a mistake and in the future what it may do is deprive us of a diplomatic instrument.

“The ability of Americans out of government to enter into any kind of dialogue with some part of Boko Haram is depriving us of a potential tool,” Campbell said. “Officially that [listing] made sense, but there are times when it is useful for private American citizens to be able to talk to these people.”

Campbell said there are other reasons why the designation is counterproductive.

“Its primary provisions are almost entirely irrelevant,” he argued. “It denies visas to members of the group. Boko Haramites are hardly lining up at embassies to get visas to come to the United States. It also blocks the transfer of assets from the U.S. to the designated organization. Boko Haram doesn’t have any assets in the United States. The Nigerian-American community in the U.S. is overwhelmingly southern and Christian, so it’s not going to be sending remittances to Boko Haram. It’s irrelevant, but it makes people feel good.

“It is extremely limited in scope,” Campbell added. “It was originally designed for Middle Eastern groups like Hamas and that just doesn’t fit.”

The former diplomat said it’s important to distinguish between Boko Haram and other Islamic terrorist groups.

“They use the same rhetoric and they have essentially the same abstract goal, which is the achievement of God’s kingdom on earth through justice for the poor by means of Sharia,” Campbell said. “The difference is al-Qaeda in its various iterations is part of an international movement with an international focus and the U.S. is the great Satan.

“Boko Haram’s focus is on Nigeria but that could change the more we are associated with the Jonathan government’s struggle against them,” Campbell added.

The group has long viewed American values as corrupting influences, in particular education but also democracy, which it considers un-Islamic.

“The syllogism works this way,” Campbell explained. “Western education promotes secularism. Secularism is a foundation of the Nigerian state. The Nigerian state is utterly corrupt and exploits the poor, therefore the Nigerian state is anti-Islamic and so the destruction of Western education is an Islamic goal for which any means is justified, including slitting the throats of 59 adolescent boys or kidnapping 200 girls,” he said, referring to a February ambush on a boarding school in which the male students were massacred. In that attack, the girls were spared and told to leave school and get husbands. A few months later, another set of girls was not so lucky.

“It’s perfectly logical — the girls were brought together to take high school exams,” Campbell said of the April kidnappings. “That’s Western education.”

Some observers say the source of Boko Haram’s rage — education — could also be its downfall, if the government addressed the marginalization that has made the north fertile recruiting ground for the group. Isobel Coleman and Sigrid von Wendel, writing in Foreign Affairs, point out that despite its oil wealth, Nigeria has the “ignominious distinction of spending less on education as a percentage of [gross national income] than every other nation on earth, except Myanmar.”

“Abuja has long relied on indiscriminate force to fight Boko Haram, which has only resulted in massive civilian casualties, fueled popular distrust of government forces, and left vulnerable villagers feeling trapped between radical extremists who favor no-holds-barred violence and an ineffective, even disinterested government that is also willing to resort to brutality,” they wrote, urging the government to tackle underlying socio-economic issues such as unemployment, illiteracy and insecurity. 

Campbell said the brazen kidnapping is a testament to Boko Haram’s support in northern Nigeria — a popularity that is often downplayed by the government — as well as its relative sophistication.

“You’re talking about more than 200 girls all dressed uniformly,” he pointed out. “That means Boko Haram has the ability to move around more than 200 girls, dress them, feed them and provide some kind of shelter. This implies a logistical and support train, which is more than a bunch of thugs running around,” he said, noting that they had access to military uniforms and transport for the girls.

Boko Haram’s ability to blend into the population may also be hampering efforts to rescue the girls, who may have been broken up into smaller groups.

Campbell said that Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s leader, has shown signs of political savvy, despite his out-of-touch rants and doubts over how much control he exerts over Boko Haram’s disparate cells.

“Shekau knows how to push buttons. What he is now saying is, ‘You can have your girls back if you release all of our operatives that are in jail,’” Campbell said. “No government can really do that, but suddenly he seems, if not reasonable, then he is at least opening up an avenue of hope. It’s quite clever. He knows exactly what he is doing.”

But while Shekau may know how to push political buttons, there is no indication Boko Haram is prepared to govern.

“They seek the destruction of the Nigerian state and its replacement by a purely Islamic state,” Campbell said. “They are a movement; they are not a political group. Their goal is not a political program; it’s a kind of religious aspiration.

“They don’t have 12-point program to address poverty in the north,” Campbell continued. “It’s all about God. That is one of the reasons they are so very difficult to deal with. You can’t buy them off, which is the traditional way of doing things.”

About the Author

Michael Coleman is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.


Peter Selfridge, New Protocol Chief, Meets Diplomats at Mount Vernon

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By Larry Luxner

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Benghazi Tragedy: Vast Conspiracy Or Conspiracy Theorists’ Dream?

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By Karin Zeitvogel

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Balkan States Cast Aside Hostilities In Aftermath of Disastrous Flooding

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By Larry Luxner

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Long-Suffering Spain Stumbles Forward in Road to Recovery

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By Larry Luxner

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Bland State Department Statements Say A Lot About U.S. Foreign Policy

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By Dave Seminara

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Mauritius Lobbies to Regain Control Of Diego Garcia, Site of U.S. Base

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By Larry Luxner

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Into the Fire: Academic Emerges From Political Plunge Enlightened

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By John Shaw

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Better Bedside Manner: Worth the Investment?

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By Gina Shaw

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In Spirited Evolution, Mixologists Shake Things Up at Hotel Bars

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By Martin Austermuhle

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National Tourism Strategy Aims To Make Visiting U.S. Easier

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By Stephanie Kanowitz

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Ritz Program Brings Cousteau’s Underwater Mission to Local Students

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By Miranda Katz

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National Geographic Strikes Gold with Ancient Peruvian Artifacts

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By Gail Scott

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Pakistani Couple Returns to D.C. to Offer ‘Right’ Image of Homeland

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By Gail Scott

Shaista Jilani was barely 20 and newly married. Their first posting was Saudi Arabia. Shortly after arriving in Riyadh, she and her husband were out for a ride in a country that does not allow women to drive, even if they are diplomats or married to one.

Photos: Gail Scott
Pakistani Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani and his wife Shaista Jilani pose in front of a portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.

“A policeman stopped our car, told me that my wife would have to put on her scarf,” recalled Pakistani Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani. “The policeman demanded that she put it on immediately. ‘You are right,’ I told the policeman. ‘I already told her to do that but she doesn’t listen.’ The policeman just laughed.”

Throughout all their postings and 30 years together, the Jilanis have always found a way to share a laugh and enjoy time with their three sons while representing Pakistan around the world, from Saudi Arabia to Australia to Belgium.

Ambassador Jilani, who took up his Washington posting earlier this year, joined us for tea at the residence while waiting for a Pakistani delegation to arrive at Dulles Airport. Shaista said that he was the talkative one while she was “the quiet one.” He denied that and proceeded to tell us story after story about their life together and their homeland. “We have good laughs,” she told us, “but you can see who’s ‘the quiet one.’”

The couple feels at home here. Their first posting to Washington was from 1995 to 1999. They lived in McLean, Va., with their two oldest boys, who at the time attended Franklin Sherman Elementary School. When they moved back to D.C. into the country’s handsome residence on S Street just off Embassy Row, the family hosted a luncheon for their sons’ former teacher, Patricia Brownley.

“The boys hugged her and looked at their teacher with great affection. They were all thrilled to see each other again,” Shaista said.

“Their school was wonderful. Our kids had friends here they haven’t had in any other posts,” she added. “There was such respect and love in this elementary school.”

Ahmed is now 27 years old and working for the United Nations in Rome. Amir, two years younger, is in Australia and works with the Centre for International Economics but is returning to Washington to get his master’s degree at Georgetown University. Their youngest son, Talha, is 16 and a rising junior at the School Without Walls.

Along with taking care of three boys wherever they lived in the world, Shaista has always devoted her time to various charity programs, particularly those related to education and women.

From left, Muslim Women's Association President Sultana Hakimi, wife of the Afghan ambassador, and hostess Gouri Mirpuri, wife of the Singaporean ambassador, welcome Shaista Jilani, wife of the Pakistani ambassador to the Muslim Women's Association, a 50-year-old organization founded by Shereen Aziz Ahmed, the wife of Aziz Ahmed, who was Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. from 1959 to 1963. Besides promoting a better understanding of Muslim women, the group offers scholarships to deserving students.

In Islamabad, she was the education secretary of the Pakistan Foreign Office Women’s Association for seven years. The group arranges scholarships for deserving Pakistani students, raises funds for members of the Foreign Office, and supports those with physical and mental disabilities. While her husband was posted to Brussels, she served as president of the Asia Pacific Women’s Association, organizing excursions, fundraising events and cultural and education programs.

When her husband returned to Pakistan to become foreign secretary, Shaista rejoined the Foreign Office Women’s Association as its president. The group’s annual fall bazaar was so important to Shaista that she agreed to come to Washington only after the early December event was over.

“Due to all this charity work, when we were here before and wherever we have been posted, she has always been my introduction to every important section in society,” the ambassador said. “She has been my invitation to many homes…. By meeting the spouse, you learn about the country and the ambassador.”

After becoming Pakistan’s foreign secretary, Jilani, a former ambassador to the European Union, did not expect to be sent abroad again. But Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decided to appoint the veteran envoy to Washington after his political party won an election that marked the first successful completion of a democratically elected government’s term in Pakistan’s tumultuous 66-year history.

The Jilanis had almost no notice about the appointment. He was called to a high-level meeting and she was at the market. Her cell phone rang and it was her sister who told her the news. “It’s all over television,” she told her flabbergasted sister. Shaista spent the rest of the day and evening fielding phone calls and watching the breaking coverage on the air. They only had a few weeks before they had to leave.

In a sense it was a trial by fire for the career diplomat, who was sent into a cauldron of mutual mistrust and acrimony. Both Washington and Islamabad have deep grievances against the other. Many Pakistanis are angered by American drone strikes that they say are a violation of the country’s sovereignty while complaining about Washington’s historical fickleness toward the region — and its lack of recognition for the large number of Pakistani troops who’ve died in the “war on terror.” On the flip side, the United States often views Pakistan as playing a double game, coddling the very terrorist groups it’s supposedly targeting while gladly taking U.S. military assistance.

Ahmed Jilani, left, and his brother Amir reunite with their former teacher at Franklin Sherman Elementary School, Patricia Brownley, at the Pakistani Residence.

It seems every few months there’s another bump in the rocky relationship — at the time of Jilani’s appointment, a U.S. drone attack killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in North Waziristan. But Jilani does his best to put a positive spin on the prickly alliance, saying there is a “degree of maturity in the relationship between the two democracies, Pakistan and America — more so than when I was here before.”

He added: “We have good cooperation, especially on security, fighting terrorism and extremism.”

Indeed, despite the constant friction, Washington can’t exactly turn its back on the nuclear-armed nation, which since its independence in 1947 has been racked by military coups, political assassinations and ethnic, sectarian and religious violence. Today, rising Islamist extremism in the Muslim-majority nation of 180 million has made it one of the most dangerous in the world. Most recently, Islamic terrorism has reached into the commercial capital of Karachi, where the country’s largest airport was stormed by 10 militants last month. The Pakistani Taliban claimed credit for the attack, which killed 36 people, saying it was in retaliation for the death of their former chief, Mehsud.

“I want to express our gratitude to the U.S. for helping us,” the ambassador said of the airport assault. “Trust and cooperation is paramount. We want Americans to remember how we helped defeat the Soviet Union…. And we helped the U.S. become the sole superpower. Some of the credit lies with Pakistan, who served as a frontline state.”

“He has a lot on his plate,” Shaista said. “Besides working within the Congress, the administration and business, he has people-to-people work, getting together with local Pakistanis, many of whom have been very successful in the United States.

“We have divided our role,” she said, “but we both build bridges between the two countries.”

Both will also have a critical role to play in countering the perception that Pakistan is becoming an intolerant state. In addition to having harsh blasphemy laws that have cowered religious minorities, women still face barbaric repression, especially in deeply conservative rural areas. In May, a pregnant woman was stoned to death by her own relatives in front of a Pakistani courthouse for marrying a man in defiance of her family’s wishes. That man, incidentally, admits to killing his first wife in order to be with the second.

The Jilanis will be working to show Americans a different side of Pakistan — one that encourages its women and isn’t usually portrayed in news headlines. “We have women who are fighter pilots, corporate CEOs, cabinet members, speaker of the parliament and 30 percent of parliament’s members,” said the ambassador, whose predecessor was a woman. “We have more and more women professionals, including 60 to 70 percent women students in medical, engineering, chemical engineering and automotive engineering schools.”

The ambassador thought it was an opportune moment to praise the woman who has been in the public eye with him for decades.

“She has been a great support. She is open, frank and makes friends with ease,” he said. “I always had great satisfaction knowing that she was taking care of our children and that peace of mind is of paramount importance,” he added.

“For dinners and receptions, she always adds her personal touch. She makes our guests feel at home, comfortable. You can’t leave that to other people,” he said. “She is projecting the right image of our country.”

About the Author

Gail Scott is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat and Diplomatic Pouch.


‘Degas/Cassatt’ Depicts Mutual Respect Between Famed Impressionists

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By Michael Coleman

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Caribbean Artists Critique Image-Driven Culture

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By Miranda Katz

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Noël Coward’s Love-Hate Comedy Bursts With Giddy Madness

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By Lisa Troshinsky

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National Gallery Offers Nuanced Look at American Painter

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By Gary Tischler

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Soi 38 Serves Up Authentic Bangkok Street Food Classics

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By Rachel G. Hunt

 All over town, chefs are taking it to the streets in brightly colored food trucks to ply their wares to hungry officers workers and tourists, but Nat Ongsangkoon and Dia Khanthongthip reversed the trend when they brought classic Thai street food to Soi 38, the elegant new restaurant they opened in April.

There is a long tradition of excellent street food in Thailand, and Sukhumvit Soi 38 — a side street in Bangkok after which the restaurant is named — is one of the city’s most renowned late-night market and street food districts. There, locals and visitors alike gather around rickety tables after conventional restaurants close to sample authentic Thai dishes until the wee hours of the morning.

Photo: Dakota Fine Multimedia
Nat Ongsangkoon and Dia Khanthongthip offer Washingtonians a taste of the classic Thai street food they eat when they visit their native Bangkok at their new restaurant, Soi 38.

Though they have been operating the successful Thai Place a few blocks from Soi 38 for the last decade, the husband-and-wife team wanted to offer American diners the type of foods they eat when they visit their native Bangkok — “real Thai,” in other words. They saw Soi 38 as an opportunity to move away from the American approach to Thai cooking, which is sweeter and less complex than the spicier, intricately seasoned versions back home.

The partners teamed up with a friend, chef Mitchai Pankham, who brings to the mix a passion for the cuisine of his native northern Thailand, and they put together a menu that offers a combination of recognizable dishes along with brand new ones. But even the seemingly familiar staples emerge from the kitchen with new dimensions under Pankham’s expert ministrations.

The menu is divided into large and small dish categories and diners can choose among appetizers, soups, salads, rolls, main courses, curries, and noodle and rice dishes.

The “warm up” plates are primarily simple meat dishes. The Kor Moo Yang, grilled pork neck served in small slices with fresh lime and chili sauce, is tender and well seasoned. Gai Hor Bai Toey — small bites of chicken individually wrapped in pandanus leaves, fried and then served with sesame sauce — must be labor intensive to make but the subtle flavor imparted by the pandanus leaves makes it worth the effort. Meanwhile, the excellent Prik Tod — battered and fried green chili stuffed with chicken and shrimp and served with a creamy Sriracha — is dense but isn’t heavy, despite the frying. Nor is it very spicy, despite the three-chili rating (the highest the restaurant gives).

Even some of the more conventional offerings such as the Tom Ka Gai soup (chicken, coconut milk, lemon grass soup, roasted chili paste) stand out from the pack. A less common soup, the Tom Yum Kradook Moo (spicy lemongrass soup made with bone-in pork spare rib) was equally well done.

Among the more unusual ingredients making an appearance on the menu is fish maw, or swim bladder, a gas-filled organ that helps a fish control its buoyancy. At Soi 38, it is baked and served in the Yum Sam Krob salad with fried squid, roasted cashews and spicy lime sauce. A delicacy in some Asian cultures, prior to latex, the bladders were used as condoms. For the less adventurous, the Yum Goong Fu salad — finely chopped, with heavily battered deep-fried shrimp, roasted cashews, red onions, lime, chili and fresh julienned mango — is an uncommon but approachable choice.

For sheer visual appeal, the Khao Pad Sapparod pineapple-fried rice served in a vertically split pineapple shell takes the prize. Made with shrimp, cashews and carrots, it is as tasty as it is attractive.

The flavors of chef Pankham’s northern Thailand pop up in the noodle category with the Khao Soi, a curry sauce-based dish made with both crispy and soft egg noodles, with a chicken leg thrown in. The dish arrives with small side bowls of chopped onion, sour cabbage and hot chili sauce, which adds punch to the otherwise mild noodles.

Photo: Soi 38

Another traditional northern Thai dish, the Gaeng Hang Lay served with sticky rice, combines pork belly and ginger with the thick hang lay curry paste of chili, coriander root, cloves, lemon grass and salt for a classic Thai flavor profile.

Seafood appears throughout the menu in various guises. One of the most interesting is Pad Cha Talay, a combination of mussels, squid and shrimp sautéed with green and orange peppers, young peppercorns still on the stalk, rhizome and red chili sauce. This is a three-chili-rated dish and this time they aren’t kidding.

The heat-rating index at Soi 38, which goes from zero to three chilies, does not seem entirely consistent, which may be a reflection of individual tolerances to different spices more than anything else. The restaurant is accommodating and any dish can be made more or less spicy as requested. Soi 38 is accommodating in general about the way they cater to their guests. The chef will convert almost any dish into vegetarian or vegan options. The menu also includes many gluten-free options, a nod to one of the owners’ children who is gluten intolerant.

Per Thai tradition, the desserts at Soi 38 are more of an extension of the main meal than a sweet ending. In addition to a superior mango and sticky rice, the menu offers a rich Thai custard, a fried banana roll, Thai gelatin wrapped in pandanus leaves, and a warm coconut milk with three flavors of tiny sticky rice flour dumplings. There is also a dairy-free and gluten-free coconut milk ice cream. The texture of this not-too-sweet confection is unlike milk-based ice cream but is satisfying nonetheless.

Under a watchful reptilian eye above the bar, popular mixologist JP Caceres shakes up original cocktails and some power-packed versions of old standards. The potent Emperor’s Punch — a blend of whiskey, fresh lemon, tamarind syrup, Thai herbal tea and chili aromatic bitters — is elegantly served up in a teapot for two. The much overdone piña colada get a new lease in life in the Menehune’s Painkiller, featuring two kinds of rum for added dimension, house-made coconut orgeat syrup, orange juice and yuzu. Caceres also offers a unique Singapore Sling — a tropical dream of gin, Luxardo cherry, Benedictine liqueur, clarified lime, chili aromatic bitters, sloe gin and pineapple juice. For those not imbibing, Caceres has developed refreshing house sodas such as lime-ginger and lemon-lemongrass fizz.

Photo: Soi 38

At Soi 38, the partners did not try to recreate the atmosphere of the Sukhumvit district, but they did hint at its essence by tapping noted Baltimore street artist Gaia, whose striking murals are normally seen outdoors. His golden creatures, both real and mythic, command Soi 38’s interior, which is punctuated by richly understated browns of wood and leather. An Asian dragon snakes its way across the ceiling to confront a peacock and a tuk-tuk (an auto rickshaw taxi common in Asia) while an elephant with a decorative ax stands guard by a cranky-looking rooster (you get the feeling there is a wonderful story here, if only you could decipher it). Interesting lamps over the bar look as if they’re made of scales, and some say they are dragon eggs. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the space with light and give diners a prime perch to watch the busy D.C. street life outside.

While Bangkok’s street life is the inspiration behind Soi 38, it does not mimic the frenetic pace of its eponymous nighttime food market, never staying open past 10:30 p.m. But the seats are a lot more comfortable, and with the heat of summer bearing down on us, the air conditioning is a nice break from the outdoors. The owners do, however, plan to add a large outside seating area for the summer.

The food may also not be the bargain you’d get in Bangkok (it is slightly more expensive than Thai Palace), but it’s well worth the price to sample an authentic taste of a cuisine that’s become increasingly Americanized and, some say, sanitized. Soi 38 definitely veers off the beaten path of mainstream Thai food in D.C., venturing into welcome territory.

Soi 38

2101 L. St., NW
(202) 558-9215

Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Starters: $5.50 to $15

Entrées: $12 to $18

Desserts: $5 to $7

Reservations: Accepted

Dress: Casual

Rachel G. Hunt is the restaurant reviewer for The Washington Diplomat.


‘Ai Weiwei The Fake Case’ Is Real Story About China’s Abuses

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By Ky N. Nguyen

Read more: ‘Ai Weiwei The Fake Case’ Is Real Story About China’s Abuses

Tribeca Film Festival 2014 Awards

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By Ky N. Nguyen

Read more: Tribeca Film Festival 2014 Awards

Films - July 2014

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By Cari













Directed by Pang Ho-cheung
(Hong Kong, 2014, 96 min.)
In the town of Aberdeen, a family mourns the loss of its matriarch, with each member struggling to accept the truths of his or her own life.
Freer Gallery of Art
Fri., July 18, 7 p.m.

Mr. Vampire
(Goeng Si Sin Sang)
Directed by Ricky Lau
(Hong Kong, 1985, 96 min.)
A feng shui expert and his bungling assistant make the mistake of agreeing to rebury a rich man's corpse and find themselves under assault by hordes of hopping vampires (screens with "Rigor Mortis").
Freer Gallery of Art
Sun., July 27, 1 p.m.

Rigor Mortis
(Goeng Si)
Directed by Juno Mak
(Hong Kong, 2013, 105 min.)
A depressed former movie star moves into a cheap apartment building with the intention of committing suicide but soon discovers that the building and its inhabitants are in thrall to supernatural forces (screens with "Mr. Vampire").
Freer Gallery of Art
Sun., July 27, 3:30 p.m.

The White Storm
Directed by Benny Chan
(Hong Kong, 2013, 134 min.)
Two cops on the narcotics beat work with their longtime friend whose years of undercover assignments are starting to fray his nerves. When the team's attempt to bust a drug kingpin in Thailand goes horribly wrong, the consequences are dire, and their bond becomes a rivalry.
Freer Gallery of Art
Sun., July 20, 2 p.m.


 The African Queen
Directed by John Huston
(U.K./U.S., 1951, 105 min.)
Fate, in the form of World War I and an invading German army, throws Katharine Hepburn's starched and stiff-backed British missionary aboard seedy Canadian Humphrey Bogart's decrepit, titular riverboat.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 4 to 10

Code Black
Directed by Ryan McGarry
(U.S., 2013, 82 min.)
Amidst real life-and-death situations, physician Ryan McGarry follows a dedicated team of charismatic, young doctors-in-training at an inner-city ER as they wrestle openly with both their ideals and the realities of saving lives in a complex and overburdened system.
Angelika Pop-Up
Opens Fri., July 11

The Fall of the Roman Empire
Directed by Anthony Mann
(U.S., 1964, 203 min.)
Alec Guinness gives noble bearing to his performance as Marcus Aurelius in Anthony Mann's epic account of Rome's twilight.
AFI Silver Theatre
Sun., July 20, 1 p.m.

A Farewell to Arms
Directed by Frank Borzage
(U.S., 1932, 80 min.)
Visionary romanticist Frank Borzage directed the screen adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's classic novel, chronicling the love affair between a wounded volunteer ambulance driver and the nurse attending him.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 6 to 10

Father Brown aka The Detective
Directed by Robert Hamer
(U.K., 1954, 91 min.)
After being robbed en route from London to Rome, Father Brown sets to solving the crime, hoping to save not only the Church's precious relic but a soul to boot.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 13 to 17

Great Expectations
Directed by David Lean
(U.K., 1946, 118 min.)
Orphan lad Pip struggles to get by until an unknown benefactor provides him a generous allowance in David Lean's beloved Charles Dickens adaptation.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 3 to 9

A Hard Day's Night
Directed by Richard Lester
(U.K., 1964, 87 min.)
This film, in which John, Paul, George, and Ringo play wily, exuberant versions of themselves, captures the astonishing moment when the Beatles officially became the singular, irreverent idols of their generation.
West End Cinema
Opens Fri., July 4

Henry IV Part II - Royal Shakespeare Company
Directed by Gregory Doran
(U.K., 2014, 170 min.)
King Henry's health is failing as a second rebellion threatens to surface, but he is uncertain that Hal is a worthy heir, believing him more concerned with earthly pleasures than the responsibility of rule.
West End Cinema
Mon., July 14, 7 p.m.,
Sat., July 19, 11 a.m.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Directed by Steven Spielberg
(U.S., 1084, 118 min.)
After jumping out of a plane over the Himalayas without the aid of parachutes, the famed archeologist adventurer sets out to rescue Indian village children enslaved by a death cult.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 4 to 10

Ivory Tower
Directed by Andrew Rossi
(U.S., 2014, 90 min.)
As tuition rates spiral beyond reach and student loan debt passes $1 trillion (more than credit card debt), the documentary "Ivory Tower" asks: Is college worth the cost?
Landmark's E Street Cinema

Journey's End
Directed by James Whale
(U.S./U.K., 1930, 120 min.)
James Whale's adaptation of fellow British World War I vet R.C. Sherriff's hit play delivers an authoritative account of life in the trenches — long stretches of boredom and claustrophobia punctuated by cataclysmic violence, with camaraderie as the best defense against soul-destroying fear.
AFI Silver Theatre
Fri., July 25, 11:30 a.m.,
Mon., July 28, 7 p.m.

Kind Hearts and Coronets
Directed by Robert Hamer
(U.K., 1949, 106 min.)
There are eight D'Ascoyne heirs ahead of Louis Mazzini in the line of succession to the Chalfont Dukedom, and Mazzini's methodical murderousness makes Shakespeare's Richard III look like a lazybones.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 11 to 16

Directed by Sebastian Junger
(U.S./Italy/Afghanistan, 2014, 85 min.)
"Korengal" picks up where the Academy Award-nominated documentary "Restrepo" left off: the same men, the same valley in Afghanistan, the same commanders, but a very different look at the experience of war.
Landmark's E Street Cinema

The Ladykillers
Directed by Alexander Mackendrick
(U.K., 1955, 91 min.)
Alec Guinness poses as a mild-mannered music professor to rent a room from a sweet old lady, whose home is the perfect hideout for his eccentric gang of thieves.
AFI Silver Theatre
Sun., July 27, 11:10 a.m.,
Tue., July 29, 9 p.m.

Last Holiday
Directed by Henry Cass
(U.K., 1950, 88 min.)
Newly diagnosed with a terminal disease, a quiet, unassuming man opts to go out on a high note, withdrawing all his savings and booking himself into a posh hotel and takes risks for the first time in his life.
AFI Silver Theatre
Sat., July 19, 2 p.m.,
Tue., July 22, 7 p.m.

The Lavender Hill Mob
Directed by Charles Crichton
(U.K., 1951, 81 min.)
With no promotion in sight, a deliveryman is fed up after 20 years of faithful service to his gold-trading firm and hatches a plan to boost £1 million in gold bullion, which will be melted and molded into Eiffel Tower souvenirs.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 25 to 31

Lawrence of Arabia
Directed by David Lean
(U.K., 1962, 231 min.)
An inordinately complex man who has been labeled everything from hero to charlatan, Thomas Edward Lawrence blazed his way to glory in the Arabian desert, then sought anonymity as a common soldier.
AFI Silver Theatre
Fri., July 4, 1:15 p.m.,
Sat., July 5, 1:15 p.m.

The Man in the White Suit
Directed by Alexander Mackendrick
(U.K., 1951, 85 min.)
Garment industry workers try to discredit an amateur inventor who's come up with a wondrous fabric that can't wear out or stain.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 26 to 31

A Most Wanted Man
Directed by Anton Corbijn
(U.K./U.S./Germany, 2014, 121 min.)
When a half-Chechen, half-Russian, brutally tortured immigrant turns up in Hamburg's Islamic community, laying claim to his father's ill-gotten fortune, both German and US security agencies take a close interest in him.
Angelika Mosaic
Opens Fri., July 25

The Mudlark
Directed by Jean Negulesco
(U.K./U.S., 1950, 99 min.)
Enchanted by a cameo of Queen Victoria, a street urchin or "mudlark" sneaks into Windsor Castle and helps the sequestered queen reconnect with the world.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 18 to 24

Oliver Twist
Directed by David Lean
(U.K., 1948, 116 min.)
Orphan Oliver Twist runs away from workhouse drudgery for life on the London streets and falls in with a gang of young pickpockets.
AFI Silver Theatre
Thu., July 3, 12 p.m.,
Tue., July 8, 4:30 p.m.,
Thu., July 10, 4:30 p.m.

Paths of Glory
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
(U.S., 1957, 88 min.)
Ordered to storm a German stronghold that holds little strategic value, French colonel Kirk Douglas's troops take heavy losses and retreat under fire, while the top brass demand blood, covering up their own misdeeds and vainglorious motives.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 12 to 17

Directed by Andrzej Żuławski
(France/Germany, 1981, 127 min.)
Quite at home in the divided Berlin of the early 1980s, a well-to-do couple plays out their union's disintegration across the borders of sanity all the way into the supernatural.
AFI Silver Theatre
Sat., July 12, 9 p.m.,
Sun., July 13, 9:15 p.m.,
Mon., July 14, 9 p.m.

Red Dawn
Directed by John Milius
(U.S., 1984, 114 min.)
A Soviet-Cuban sneak attack cripples the U.S., but the invasion is repelled by freedom-loving teens, relying on a combination of hunting skills and lessons learned on the football field.
AFI Silver Theatre
Sun., July 6, 6 p.m.,
Mon., July 7, 9 p.m.

The Road Back
Directed by James Whale
(U.S., 1937, 97 min.)
A group of German World War I veterans tries to adjust to life after the war.
AFI Silver Theatre
Sun., July 27, 11 a.m.,
Tue., July 29, 7 p.m.

The Rover
Directed by David Michod
(Australia/U.S., 2014, 102 min.)
Ten years after a global economic collapse, a hardened ex-soldier tracks down the men who stole his only possession: his car. As he travels through the lawless Australian outback, he takes a damaged young man as his unwitting accomplice.
Landmark's E Street Cinema

A Run for Your Money
Directed by Charles Frend
(U.K., 1949, 85 min.)
Singing Welsh miners win a trip to London, where the two plan to live it up, causing much consternation for their minder, a newspaper gardening columnist.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 19 to 23

The Scapegoat
Directed by Robert Hamer
(U.K./U.S., 1959, 92 min.)
On holiday in France, British schoolteacher John Barratt (Alec Guinness) is stunned to meet his spitting image in Count Jacques De Gué (Guinness again), who, for reasons of his own, wishes Barratt to take his place.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 12 to 16

Directed by Bong Joon-ho
(South Korea/U.S., 2013, 126 min.)
When a failed attempt at reversing climate change leads to an ice age, the last human survivors are left circling the earth in a nonstop express train. The rich are in the front carriages and the poor — from whose perspective the story is told — at the back.
AFI Silver Theatre
Angelika Mosaic
Opens Wed., July 2

Spirited Away
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
(Japan, 2002, 125 min.)
While out exploring, a young girl stumbles into the spirit world and is conscripted into working in a fabulous bathhouse where all manner of magical creatures come to relax.
AFI Silver Theatre
Tue., July 1, 2:30 p.m.,
Wed., July 2, 2:30 p.m.

Third Person
Directed by Paul Haggis
(U.K./U.S./Germany/Belgium, 2013, 137 min.)
Three interlocking love stories involving three couples take place in Rome, Paris and New York (English and Italian).
Angelika Mosaic

Through the Consul's Eye
Directed by Jorge Amat
(France, 1999, 50 min.)
Culled from his letters, diary entries and notes, this film chronicles the experiences of aristocratic diplomat Auguste François, who witnessed history when he was stationed in China from 1896 to 1905.
Freer Gallery of Art
Wed., July 2, 2 p.m.

Waterloo Bridge
Directed by James Whale
(U.S., 1931, 81 min.)
Taking shelter during a London air raid, American soldier-on-leave Douglass Montgomery meets and falls in love with chorus girl Mae Clarke, unaware that she works as a prostitute to make ends meet.
AFI Silver Theatre
Sat., July 26, 11 a.m.;
Wed., July 30, 7:30 p.m.


14-18: The Noise and the Fury
(14-18, le bruit et la fureur)

Directed by Jean-François Delassus
(France/Belgium, 2008, 103 min.)
Jean-François Delassus masterfully weaves together archival documentary footage from World War I with narrative selections in his attempt to explain the inexplicable: how tens of millions of men suffered through life in trenches while they could not even say why they were fighting?

AFI Silver Theatre
Sat., July 12, 3:15 p.m.

Directed by Alain Resnais
(France/Italy, 2006, 120 min.)
Celebrated Yorkshire dramatist Alan Ayckbourn’s cerebral comedy about six characters who warily weave through four interconnected stories is transplanted to France.

Embassy of France
Wed., July 23, 7 p.m.

For a Woman
(Pour une femme)

Directed by Diane Kurys
(France, 2013, 110 min.)
In a journey that stretches from Nazi concentration camps to post-war France to the 1980s, a young woman’s destiny intertwines with her father’s past until they form a single, unforgettable story.

Washington DCJCC
Sun., July 13, 4:30 p.m.

Grand Illusion
(La grande illusion)
Directed by Jean Renoir
(France, 1937, 114 min.)
Jean Renoir’s powerfully humanistic tale of World War I French POWs whose fellowship keeps them strong while they plot their way to freedom spoke volumes to French audiences in 1937, on the cusp of yet another world-historical cataclysm.

AFI Silver Theatre
Thu., July 3, 7 p.m.,
Sat., July 5, 11:30 a.m.,
Wed., July 9, 12 and 7 p.m.

Last Year at Marienbad
(L’année dernière à Marienbad)

Directed by Alain Resnais
(France/Italy, 1961, 93 min.)
An essential film of the 1960s New Wave, Alain Resnais’s daring memory escapade mingles the past with the present in a puzzling tale about a man and a woman who might have been lovers a year ago while staying in the same gilded château where they now find themselves.

Embassy of France
Wed., July 16, 7 p.m.

Life and Nothing But
(La vie et rien d’autre)
Directed by Bertrand Tavernier
(France, 1989, 135 min.)
Major Philippe Noiret and his team take a break from identifying France's nameless 1920 World War I dead (50,000 down, 300,000 to go) to accommodate Sabine Azéma’s demands to hunt for her husband's corpse and the government's need for a particular Unknown Soldier.
AFI Silver Theatre
Sun., July 13, 1:15 p.m.

Venus in Fur
Directed by Roman Polanski
(France/Poland, 2013, 96 min.)
Alone in a Paris theater after a long day of unsuccessfully auditioning actresses for his new play, a writer-director is about to leave when an actress bursts in, a whirlwind of erratic and erotic energy (French and German).

Landmark’s E Street Cinema
Opens Fri., July 11

Directed by Martin Provost
(France/Belgium, 2013, 132 min.)
Martin Provost’s “Violette” spans 20 years in the complex life of trailblazing French feminist author Violette Leduc and her relationship with the legendary Simone de Beauvoir (French, English and Italian).

Angelika Mosaic
Angelika Pop-Up

Young & Beautiful
Directed by François Ozon
(France, 2014, 95 min.)
After losing her virginity, Isabelle inexplicably takes up a secret life as a call girl, showing little interest in the encounters themselves or the money she makes.
Landmark’s E Street Cinema

Yves Saint Laurent
(France, 2014, 106 min.)
This biography looks at the life of French designer Yves Saint Laurent from the beginning of his career in 1958 when he met his lover and business partner, Pierre Berge (French, English, Russian, Arabic and Japanese).
Opens Fri., July 25
Theater TBA


In Bloom
(Grdzeli nateli dgheebi)
Directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili
(Georgia/Germany/France, 2013, 102 min.)
In the early 1990s, Tbilisi, the capital of the newly independent Georgia, is surrounded by violence, war and vigilante justice, but for Eka and Natia, 14-year-old inseparable friends, life just goes on.
AFI Silver Theatre
Through July 3


A Coffee in Berlin
Directed by Jan Ole Gerster
(Germany, 2014, 88 min.)
During a single fateful day in Berlin, a charming 27-year-old slacker guy going nowhere drifts aimlessly through a series of amusing encounters with oddball characters.
Landmark's E Street Cinema
Opens Fri., July 11

Shirley: Visions of Reality
Directed by Gustav Deutsch
(Austria, 2013, 93 min.)
Gustav Deutsch renders 13 of Edward Hopper's iconic paintings to the screen in what is the most compelling Hopper adaptation yet — a sequence of precisely planned and brilliantly lit tableaux enhanced by actress choreographer Stephanie Cumming's stunning performance.
National Gallery of Art
Sat., July 26, 2:30 p.m.
Sun., July 27, 4 p.m.

Turkish for Beginners
(Türkisch für Anfänger)
Directed by Bora Dağtekin
(Germany, 2012, 105 min.)
After an emergency landing in the Indian Ocean, sensible but slightly neurotic teenager Lena finds herself stranded on a deserted island with a Turkish macho man, his deeply religious sister and a stuttering Greek.
Mon., July 7, 6:30 p.m.


Directed by Eytan Fox
(Israel/France, 2013, 92 min.)
Set in contemporary Tel Aviv, six diverse best friends gather to watch the wildly popular UniverSong competition. Appalled by the Israeli entry, they decide to create their own and record it on a mobile phone (Hebrew, French and English).
The Avalon Theatre
Wed., July 23, 8 p.m.

Dancing in Jaffa
Directed by Hilla Medalia
(Israel/U.S., 2013, 84 min.)
Renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine has a burning desire to use dance for social good, teaming Jewish and Palestinian Israeli children as ballroom partners (Hebrew and Arabic).
Washington DCJCC
Sun., July 13, 12:30 p.m.


Black Sabbath
(I tre volti della paura)
Directed by Mario Bava
(Italy/U.K/France, 1963, 92 min.)
In this trio of haunting tales, a call girl is terrified by threatening phone calls, which she believes are coming from the pimp she snitched on; a 19th-century Russian family falls prey to a vampiric creature; and a nurse is haunted by the ghost of a former patient.
AFI Silver Theatre
Fri., July 11, 10:45 p.m.,
Sat., July 12, 11:30 p.m.

Black Sunday
(La maschera del demonio)
Directed by Mario Bava
(Italy, 1960, 87 min.)
In 17th-century Moldavia, a beautiful woman is sentenced to a gruesome death for witchcraft but vows revenge on the descendants of those responsible.
AFI Silver Theatre
Fri., July 4, 10:45 p.m.,
Sun., July 6, 8:20 p.m.

Blood and Black Lace
(Sei donne per l'assassino)
Directed by Mario Bava
(Italy/France/Monaco, 1963, 88 min.)
Two lovers run a fashion house rife with vice, and a model murdered by a mysterious masked man may have been killed for her diary documenting the business's history of financial improprieties, blackmail, secret abortions and drug addiction.
AFI Silver Theatre
Mon., July 28, 9:30 p.m.,
Wed., July 30, 9:30 p.m.

Duck, You Sucker
(Giú, la testa)
Directed by Sergio Leone
(Italy, 1971, 157 min.)
An IRA explosives expert on the run from the British puts his dynamite skills to use in the Mexican Revolution.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 20 to 24

A Fistful of Dollars
(Per un pugno di dollari)
Directed by Sergio Leone
(Italy/Germany/Spain, 1964, 99 min.)
A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride and revenge.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 3 to 8

For a Few Dollars More
(Per qualche dollaro in piú)
Directed by Sergio Leone
(Italy/Spain/Germany, 1967, 132 min.)
In this sequel to "A Fistful of Dollars," two bounty hunters with the same intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw.
AFI Silver Theatre
Fri., July 11, 5:15 p.m.,
Sun., July 13, 4 p.m.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
(Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo)
Directed by Sergio Leone
(Italy/Spain/Germany, 1967, 161 min.)
A bounty hunting scam unites two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 18 to 21

Once Upon a Time in America
Directed by Sergio Leone
(Italy/U.S., 1984, 229 min.)
A former Prohibition-era Jewish gangster returns to the Lower East Side of Manhattan over 30 years later, where he once again must confront the ghosts and regrets of his old life.
AFI Silver Theatre
July 25 to 27

The Whip and the Body
(La frustra e il corpo)
Directed by Mario Bava
(Italy/France, 1963, 91 min.)
Sadistic nobleman Christopher Lee returns to his family mansion after many years in exile and soon sets his sights — and whips — on his brother's wife and Lee's former lover, whom he flogs for perverse sexual satisfaction..
AFI Silver Theatre
Sat., July 19, 12 a.m.,
Tue., July 22, 9 p.m.


Tokyo Twilight
(Tōkyō boshoku)
Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
(Japan, 1957, 140 min.)
Takako has fled her abusive husband and moved back home with her daughter while her rebellious younger sister is secretly pregnant. The strains on the family grow when secrets about their mother, who left when they were children, come to light.
Freer Gallery of Art
Fri., July 25, 8 p.m.


Ai Weiwei The Fake Case
Directed by Andreas Johnsen
(Denmark/China/U.K., 2013, 89 min.)
This provocative new documentary follows Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei's battle against the gigantic lawsuit thrust upon him by the Chinese government in an effort to silence him (English and Mandarin).
Landmark's E Street Cinema
Opens Fri., July 4


Directed by Władysław Pasikowski
(Poland/Holland/Russia/Slovakia, 2013, 104 min.)
Two brothers discover a terrible secret and are forced to revise their perception of their father, their entire family, their neighbors and the history of their nation.
Washington DCJCC
Sun., July 13, 2:30 p.m.


Events - July 2014

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July 1 to Oct. 26

Symbols of Honor: Heraldry and Family History in Shakespeare’s England

This show — the largest and most comprehensive of its kind ever mounted — explores the birth of genealogy in its modern form by examining the colorful world of heralds and their rivals, which competed to profit from the craze for coats of arms that seized England during the reign of Elizabeth I.

Folger Shakespeare Library

July 1 to Dec. 31

Titian’s Danaë from the Capodimonte Museum, Naples

One of the most sensual paintings of the Italian Renaissance, Titian’s “Danaë” from the Capodimonte Museum in Naples will be on view to celebrate the commencement of Italy’s presidency of the Council of the European Union.

National Gallery of Art

July 3 to Aug. 2

Sandra Pani: My Intangible Self

Celebrated Mexican artist Sandra Pani explores the body, its structure and its relationship with natural phenomena, using superimposed veilings that both invite deciphering and impede a definitive reading, opening up a variety of interpretations.

Mexican Cultural Institute

Through July 3

AppArtAward - App goes art // Art goes app

Artists have been quick to recognize the creative potential of apps, particularly as a new form of communication and participation in contemporary art.


Through July 3

Lily Garafulic: Centenary Celebration

Selected prints, drawings, watercolors, sculptures and a documentary examine the work of Lily Garafulic Yankovic (1914-2012), a Chilean sculptor who was among the 40 Generation artists who drew heavily from impressionism and Fauvism and remained largely removed from the more overtly political work being made at the time.

Art Museum of the Americas

Through July 3

Search for a New Sound. The Blue Note Photographs of Francis Wolff

Blue Note Records celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2014. Its roots lie in Berlin, where two teenagers, Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, discovered a passion for swing music and a strong friendship. They both moved to New York in the 1930s, where Blue Note Records was born in 1939.


Through July 7

Territories and Subjectivities: Contemporary Art from Argentina

This exhibition featuring 33 innovative artists presents a vigorous panorama of fresh trends from various regions of the country, examining the very notion of territory not as an inherent condition of the world that we share, but as something that humans define for themselves through subjective means.

OAS Art Museum of the Americas

July 7 to Sept. 26

In the Library: Preservation and Loss during World War II

The loss of cultural patrimony in times of war is often a sad byproduct of military action, and until the modern era was rarely documented. But the National Gallery of Art Library contains thousands of photographic images that do just that: chronicle the loss and preservation of countless works of art and architecture that were in peril during armed conflict.

National Gallery of Art

Through July 13

Dancing the Dream

From the late 19th century to today, dance has captured this nation’s culture in motion, as seen in photos that showcase generations of performers, choreographers and impresarios.

National Portrait Gallery

Through July 15

They Never Update the Lists by Michael Borek

To commemorate the 90th anniversary of the death of Franz Kafka, Michael Borek — a photographer and freelance interpreter raised in Prague and now based in Bethesda, Md. — addresses the themes of alienation and absurdity prevalent in the Czech writer’s work. For information, visit www.mzv.cz/washington/en/culture_events/culture/index.html.

Embassy of the Czech Republic

July 17 to Oct. 5

Femininity Beyond Archetypes: Photography by Natalia Arias of Colombia

This exhibit showcases Natalia Arias’ series “Venus,” which initiates a conversation on her vision of Venus and references the idea of the goddess throughout history, and the series “Taboo,” which demonstrates that female bodies are charged with concepts prohibited by society, denying the inherent beauty in biological functions.

Art Museum of the Americas

July 19 to Aug. 3

The Tempest

Shakespeare’s glorious tale of magical creatures, love and forgiveness on a faraway island is sure to captivate in our outdoor space, the Root Family Stage. Please call for ticket information.

Olney Shakespeare Theatre

July 19 to Sept. 28

Mark Tribe: Plein Air

Nine large-scale images explore the aesthetics and representation of aerial views in landscape photography through the virtual lens of computer simulation.

Corcoran Gallery of Art

Through July 27

Chigusa and the Art of Tea

“Chigusa” tells the story of a 700-year-old ordinary tea jar that rose to become one of the most famous and revered objects in the Japanese “art of tea” — so much so that it was granted a name, luxurious accessories and a devoted following.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Through July 27

Kiyochika: Master of the Night

On Sept. 3, 1868, the city called Edo ceased to exist. Renamed Tokyo by Japan’s new rulers, the city became the primary experiment in a national drive toward modernization. Kobayashi Kiyochika, a self-trained artist, set out to record his views of Tokyo in an ambitious and auspicious series of 100 prints.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Through July 31

Octavio Paz: De La Palabra a la Miranda

This display brings together Octavio Paz’s artist books, capturing the Nobel Laureate’s indelible word through the illustration of renowned artists from Mexico and abroad, including Rufino Tamayo, Juan Soriano, Vicente Rojo, Marcel Duchamp, Antoni Tàpies, Robert Motherwell, Balthus and Cy Twombly.

Mexican Cultural Institute

Through Aug. 1

American States in Yuan Xikun’s Eyes: Preservation and Transformation

In this collaboration between China and OAS member countries, Yuan Xikun uses cross-disciplinary art and modern context to energize trans-Pacific dialogue.

Organization of American States Sculpture Garden

Through Aug. 17

An American in London: Whistler and the Thames

American artist James McNeill Whistler arrived in London in 1859 and discovered in its neighborhoods and inhabitants an inexhaustible source of aesthetic inspiration. His images of the city created over the next two decades represent one of his most successful assaults on the contemporary art establishment.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Through Aug. 17

Continental Drift

This survey of Washington artist Judy Byron invites the viewer to consider the visual and auditory environment that informs identity, acknowledging the artist’s drifting of visual influences among three specific countries: Brazil, China and Ghana.

American University Katzen Arts Center

Through Aug. 17

An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan, and Their Circle

Jess Collins and his partner, the poet Robert Duncan, merged their personal and artistic lives by exploring their mutual interest in cultural mythologies, transformative narrative and the appropriation of images.

American University Katzen Arts Center

Through Aug. 17

Passionate Collectors: The Washington Print Club at 50

With almost 150 prints selected from Washington collections, this exhibit reveals a diversity of techniques — from relief printing by celebrated masters Durer, van Dyck, Carracci, Pissarro, Picasso and Chuck Close to monoprints by contemporaries Richard Estes, Ventura Salimbeni, Thomas Frye, Adolphe Appian, Reinhard Hilker and Keiko Hara.

American University Katzen Arts Center

Through Aug. 17

Visions from the Forests: The Art of Liberia and Sierra Leone

The exhibition features some 70 artworks from the collection of William Siegmann (1943–2011) — a former curator of African art at the Brooklyn Museum who lived and worked in Liberia for more than two decades — that survey the traditional arts of Liberia and Sierra Leone.

National Museum of African Art

Through Aug. 24

Africa ReViewed: The Photographic Legacy of Eliot Elisofon

“Africa ReViewed” showcases the African photography of celebrated Life magazine photographer Eliot Elisofon and explores the intricate relationships between his photographic archives and art collection at the National Museum of African Art. Elisofon's images had a huge impact in framing America’s perceptions of Africa and its diverse cultures during the 20th century.

National Museum of African Art

Through Aug. 29

Investing in Women and Girls: A Photography exhibit of winners of the Colors of Life photo contest

This exhibition of winning entries of the Colors of Life International Photo Contest, organized in conjunction with the World Bank Art Program, features international documentary and street photographers tackling issues such as women’s rights and the international movement toward a more just and humane world.

Art Museum of the Americas
F Street Gallery

Through Aug. 31

Made in the USA: American Masters from The Phillips Collection, 1850–1970

Following an acclaimed four-year world tour, the Phillips’s renowned collection of American masterworks returns to the museum to tell the story of American art from the late 19th-century to the mid-20th century, when it became a significant global force after World War II.

The Phillips Collection

Through Sept. 2

Peruvian Gold: Ancient Treasures Unearthed

This exhibition journeys through civilizations from 1250 B.C. to 1450, learning through the ceremonial gold, silver, ceramics and textiles created by the complex Andean civilizations in ancient Peru that rival anything made by the ancient Egyptians.

National Geographic Museum

Through Sept. 5

Marks and Traces: Helga Thomson Retrospective

The work of Buenos Aires-born artist Helga Thomson, who studied in Argentina, Europe and the United States, encompasses etchings, collagraphs, monoprints, digital prints, mixed media and installations that are rich in color and content, reflecting a life story with deep symbolic references.

Embassy of Argentina

Through Sept. 7

Small Guide to Homeownership: Photography by Alejandro Cartagena of Mexico

This selection from Alejandro Cartagena’s “Mexicana Suburbia” series considers the interdependence of humans and landscape in the face of urban expansion.

Art Museum of the Americas

Through Sept. 14

Bountiful Waters: Aquatic Life in Japanese Art

This exhibition features a selection of prints, paintings, illustrated books and ceramics that depict the Japanese appreciation for the beauty and variety of fish and other species.

Freer Gallery of Art

Through Sept. 14

Meret Oppenheim: Tender Friendships

More than 20 artworks and archival papers by Swiss surrealist Meret Oppenheim (1913-85) explore friendship as a source of support and inspiration, as seen through two 18th-century poets, Bettina von Brentano and Karoline von Günderode.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Through Sept. 21

Ubuhle Women: Beadwork and the Art of Independence

A community of women living and working together in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, has developed a new form of bead art — using black fabric as a canvas and different colored Czech glass beads as the medium of expression — to empower local women.

The Anacostia Community Museum

Through Sept. 28

American Metal: The Art of Albert Paley

Spanning a remarkable 50-year career, this first-ever retrospective surveys the art of Albert Paley, one of the world’s most distinguished metalsmiths.

Corcoran Gallery of Art

Through Sept. 30

Marco Paoli Photography

(Silence)” and from his forthcoming monograph on Ethiopia, using his travels as metaphors for an artistic exploration around the concepts of silence, memory, emotion and inner journey (viewing appointments must be made by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

Embassy of Italy

Through Oct. 5


Although Edgar Degas’s influence upon Mary Cassatt has long been acknowledged, the extent to which Cassatt shaped Degas’s artistic production and prepared the way for his warm reception by American audiences is fully examined in this exhibition for the first time.

National Gallery of Art

Through Oct. 12

Total Art: Contemporary Video

The first museum exhibition to focus on women’s impact on the field of video art highlights the inventive processes and compelling subjects that sustain women artists’ position at the forefront of video.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Through Nov. 14

The First Woman Graphic Novelist: Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová

Helena Bochořáková-Dittrichová (1894–1980) was a Czech graphic artist whose 1929 novel “Zmého dětství (From My Childhood)” is widely acknowledged to be the first wordless novel created by a woman.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Through Dec. 31

Cartier: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Dazzling Gems

One of Cartier’s most important and enduring clients, Marjorie Merriweather Post commissioned some of the most exquisite jewelry sets, fashionable accessories and finely crafted jeweled frames of any American collector.

Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens

Through Jan. 4

One Nation With News for All

Ethnic newspapers, radio, television and online publications have helped millions of immigrants to America become part of their new country while preserving their ties to their native lands. This exhibit tells the dramatic story of how immigrants and minorities used the power of the press to fight for their rights and shape the American experience.



July 11 to 27

Blue Moon/Red River

One of the few dance-focused companies presenting work at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival, Jane Franklin Dance collaborates with Helen Hayes Award-winning percussionist Tom Teasley live on stage as 11 athletic dancers form organic and human landscapes that dwell in the persistent sound reminiscent of the winds of the Southwestern plains. Please call for ticket information.

Atlas Performing Arts Center


Wed., July 9, 6:45 p.m.

Tea Across Time

Tea drinking, known to have taken place in China in the third century, has long played a role in shaping societies, art, politics and economies. With a pair of exhibitions focusing on Japanese tea culture now on view at the Freer and Sackler Galleries, this evening seminar with tasting looks at the beloved beverage’s rich global history. Tickets are $45; for information, visit www.smithsonianassociates.org.

S. Dillon Ripley Center

Thu., July 10, 6:45 p.m.

Jesuit Missions in the Early Modern World

Thomas Cohen of Catholic University examines the Jesuits’ work in overseas missions from 1549 to 1773, looking at the order’s establishment of missions in a wide range of settings, from the Chinese and Mughal courts to the frontiers of the Iberian empires in the Americas. Tickets are $25; for information, visit www.smithsonianassociates.org.

S. Dillon Ripley Center

Tue., July 15, 6:45 p.m.

Shakespeare at 450: A Standing Ovation

Celebrate the 450th anniversary of the birth of Shakespeare, whom Ben Jonson so aptly eulogized as a man as “not of an age, but for all time,” with Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger, a Tudor and Renaissance scholar and education specialist at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Tickets are $42; for information, visit www.smithsonianassociates.org.

S. Dillon Ripley Center

Thu., July 17, 6:45 p.m.

St. Nazaire: The Greatest Raid of All

The British raid on St. Nazaire on the Atlantic coast of occupied France ranks as one of the most extraordinary acts of heroism in World War II. Tickets are $42; for information, visit www.smithsonianassociates.org.

S. Dillon Ripley Center

Sat., July 19, 9:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

The Regency World of Jane Austen

Emma Woodhouse, Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, and the Dashwood sisters may be fictional heroines, but their creator Jane Austen sets their adventures in romance against the very real social and historical backdrop of Regency England. Art historian Bonita Billman brings the era to life during a delightful day of cultural time traveling. Tickets are $130; for information, visit www.smithsonianassociates.org.

S. Dillon Ripley Center

Wed., July 23, 6:45 p.m.

Masterpieces of Art in Early Renaissance Italy

Elaine Ruffolo explores the early years of the Italian Renaissance, which saw an explosion of artistic energy as the visual arts underwent seminal changes in form, function and status, and as artists’ interests turned from predominantly religious themes to the real world — with startling results. Tickets are $42; for information, visit www.smithsonianassociates.org.

S. Dillon Ripley Center


July 7 to 11

Design @+

To mark the 30th Anniversary of the sister-city relationship between the District of Columbia and Beijing, "Design@+" was launched to bridge the creative conversation between two capitals by engaging design professionals in a weeklong series of events. In addition to an exhibit of 80 contemporary designs ranging from furniture and product design to fashion and graphic design, "Design @+" includes various discussions such as "Google Art Night Talk: What is the Role of Technology (such as 3D printing) in Industrial Designs?" on July 9. For information, visit www.jintaimuseum.org or www.facebook.com/dcbeijingdesign.

Powerhouse in Georgetown

July 10 to 27

Capital Fringe Festival

This annual performing arts festival features more than 100 events at venues across town that connect exploratory artists with adventurous audiences by creating outlets and spaces for creative, cutting-edge and contemporary performance ranging from theater, dance and music to poetry and puppetry. For information, visit www.capitalfringe.org.

Various locations

Fri., July 11, 7:30 p.m.

Bastille Day Celebration

The Embassy of France welcomes Washingtonians to the Comité Tricolore's spectacular annual Bastille Day celebration, which offers access to Washington's top chefs and their signature dishes; a night of dancing; live jazz and swing music; open bars; and a wide-ranging silent and live auction. This year's event commemorates the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, a symbol of the enduring American-French partnership. Tickets are $90 to $175; for information, visit www.frenchembassybastilleday2014.eventbrite.com.

Embassy of France


Thu., July 3, 8 p.m.

Magic Songs of the Eternal Steppe

This extraordinary concert presented by the Kazakh American Association takes audiences on a journey to the great Silk Road through the unrivaled technique and passion of Kazakhstan's greatest musicians, composers and vocalists, who for thousands of years have drawn their musical inspiration from the country's enchanting landscape. Tickets are $20.

Kennedy Center Concert Hall

Tue., July 8, 8 p.m.

Jose Alberto "El Canario" and Domingo Quinones

Jose Alberto, a Dominican salsa singer, became a major Latin star after the release of his 1984 debut "Noches Calientes," while his 1991 album "Dance With Me" established a new style of salsa called salsa romantica. Tickets are $29.50 to $60.

Howard Theatre

Tue., July 15, 9 p.m.

Los Pericos

Los Pericos, a reggae rock band from Argentina formed in 1987, has enjoyed international success, especially throughout South America, and was featured on an episode of Anthony Bourdain's show "No Reservations." Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door.

Howard Theatre

Thu., July 24, 6:45 p.m.

The Eblen Macari Trio

This summer concert features the acclaimed Eblen Macari Trio, which fuses improvisation and world music by using myriad instruments to uncover the baroque and Levantine influences in Mexican music.

Mexican Cultural Institute

Fri., July 25, 9 p.m.

Pupy y Los Que Son Son

César "Pupy" Pedroso, one of Cuba's best and most prolific composers, played a seminal role in revolutionizing the art of salsa piano playing. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

Howard Theatre


Through July 5

Happy Days

Scena Theater presents the absurdist classic "Happy Days" by the esteemed Irish playwright Samuel Beckett and directed by local acting veteran Nancy Robinette. Tickets are $20 to $40.

Atlas Performing Arts Center

Through July 6

Cloak and Dagger

Third-rate detective Nick Cutter is down on his luck when a beautiful blonde bombshell tosses a very intriguing case (and herself) into his lap in this zany, mile-a-minute whodunit that features four actors playing nearly 20 roles. Please call for ticket information.

Signature Theatre

July 11 to 27

Medea's Got Some Issues

As part of the Capital Fringe Fetival, No Rules Theatre Company and SPAIN arts & culture present the D.C. premiere of Spanish playwright Emilio Williams' award-winning farce, which delivers a sidesplitting take on the infamous Greek myth. Finally audiences get Medea's uncensored side of the story: the whirlwind romance that drove her to murder her children, the tragedy that is modern theater, and the portrayal of women in the age of Rihanna and JLaw. Tickets are $17.


July 12 to 27

Report to an Academy by Franz Kafka

An ape evolves to behave like a human and presents his fascinating tale of transformation — and the horrid details of his former ape life — to a top scientific academy. For ticket information, visit www.ScenaTheater.org.

Caos on F Street Gallery

Through July 14

Side Show

Chronicling their rise from freak circus attractions to famous vaudeville entertainers during the Great Depression, "Side Show" follows conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton in their heartwarming search for love and normalcy amidst the spectacle of fame and scrutiny. Tickets are $45 to $130.

Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater

Through July 15

Noël Coward's Private Lives

Noël Coward's quick-witted comedy opens in a blissful hotel in France where divorcées Elyot and Amanda are on a honeymoon with their new spouses. When the ex-couple discover each other on neighboring balconies, they try to maintain a veneer of etiquette and respectability, but old feelings make matters complicated. Tickets are $40 to $100.

Shakespeare Lansburgh Theatre

July 25 and 26

Globe to Globe Hamlet

Shakespeare's Globe launches a worldwide tour of "Hamlet," bringing their acclaimed production back to the Folger after a highly successful run in 2012. The London-based Shakespeare's Globe production will visit all 205 nations on earth in an unprecedented theatrical adventure, including this stop in the United States. Tickets are $60 to $85.

Folger Shakespeare Library

July 28 to Aug. 17

Stupid F###king Bird

An aspiring young director rampages against the art created by his mother's generation while a nubile young actress wrestles with an aging Hollywood star for the affections of a renowned novelist in this irreverent remix of Chekhov's "The Seagull." Please call for ticket information.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre

Through Aug. 17

Disney's The Lion King

Winner of six Tonys including Best Musical, "Disney's The Lion King" returns with direction and costumes by Julie Taymor and a score by Elton John and Tim Rice that brings the African Pridelands to life. Tickets are $40 to $190.

Kennedy Center Opera House


Classifieds - July 2014

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Real Estate Classifieds - July 2014

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