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DC Shorts Film Festival showcases an alumna’s screenplay

You can now catch a film about a foodie finding romance, laugh at a mad scientist who sends his friend back in time and learn about an artist fighting gentrification — all in less than an hour.

On Thursday, the 10-day DC Shorts Film Festival returns to Landmark E Street Cinema to showcase short films from around the world.

DC Shorts is also hosting a screenplay competition at the Navy Memorial Heritage Center on Sept. 18, where the audience will read screenplays from six finalists and select one winner to receive $2,000 to shoot his or her film. The winner is also automatically entered into next year’s festival.

One of the screenplay contestants, Madeline Dennis-Yates, is an alumna.

Her screenplay, “Fireworks for a Funeral,” is a “screwball” comedy about two sisters who get in trouble with airport security agents when they try to smuggle fireworks with their dead uncle’s ashes.

Yates, who majored in art history and graduated in May, originally wrote the screenplay as a sophomore in her dramatic writing class and submitted it to DC Shorts during her senior year.

“I read somewhere that people put their relatives’ ashes into fireworks and set them off,” she said. “I thought it was really weird and wanted to find some way to write about it.”

Yates isn’t the first alumna to be featured in the festival. In 2012, DC Shorts screened “The Capital Buzz,” a documentary about urban beekeeping in the District that was co-written by 2011 alumna Allee Sangiolo.

The festival’s director, Jon Gann, said that many of the DC Shorts submissions come from college students. Gann said that the festival’s lunchtime shows, which allow free entry to 40-minute weekday afternoon screenings, can appeal to students.

“Anyone who loves films will love this festival,” Gann said in an email.

Some films will be divided into categories — like modern relationships, LGBT themes, comedy, animation, family-oriented films and local shorts — and screened back-to-back as 60- to 90-minute showcases.

The 125 films in the festival represent directors from 24 different countries. Nine of the films are from Germany, including “Daewit,” an animated drama about a boy raised by wolves.

Shorts from other countries include “Work Mate,” an Australian comedy about a blind man teaching his coworker how to ride a bike and “Finding Beauty in the Rubble,” a Japanese documentary about a tsunami survivor who uses debris from the disaster to make jewelry.

And if you don’t feel like heading out to the theater, you can bring the movies to your dorm room. For the second time, DC Shorts is offering an online film festival for $15 to $20, which makes more than 100 films internationally accessible by allowing viewers to watch from their computers.

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