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A Night Out at the Movies in Washington

Lawan Davis, Dana Demange and Daniel Kirch



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week…

We play music from the Pointer Sisters…

Answer a question about C-Span…

And report about Filmfest D.C.

Filmfest DC


For twenty years Filmfest DC has brought movies from around the world to Washington, D.C. This twelve-day event took place in movie theatres all over the city. It ended on Sunday. Thousands of local movie fans enjoyed the latest examples of international cinema. Faith Lapidus has more.


The festival celebrated its twentieth year with a special opening night party. Visitors saw the new British film “Wah- Wah” staring actor Gabriel Byrne. Mister Byrne was also a special guest that night. He talked about the movie and how it was made. The film is about a young British boy growing up in Africa in the nineteen sixties. Mister Byrne said that filming in Swaziland and learning about that country was one of the best experiences of his career.

Filmfest DC movies dealt with two main subjects this year. One theme was the cinema of Brazil. Filmfest DC officials say Brazil is currently producing many energetic and creative movies. Audiences enjoyed ten examples of new Brazilian films and true-life documentaries.

Another theme of the festival was hip-hop music. This kind of music started in America, but its influence and sounds have traveled all over the world.

Several films explored hip-hop culture in countries like Morocco and Senegal. One movie is called “La Fabri-K”. It tells about a group of hip-hop musicians from Cuba. The musicians say their songs help express how young people feel in Cuba. The songs talk about social problems such as racial identity. In the movie, the Cuban rappers travel to the United States to perform. They talk about the differences between American and Cuban hip-hop culture.

Filmfest DC also showed new movies from the United States. One film is called “Akeelah and the Bee”. It tells the story of Akeelah, a young girl with a special ability for spelling words. Her teacher helps the young girl compete in spelling competitions. Akeelah faces many difficulties with bravery and spirit.



Our listener question this week is from Mohammed Shahrear Sarker. He wants to know what C-SPAN means.

C-SPAN stands for “Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network.” C-SPAN is a private, non-profit service of the cable television industry. Its goal is to broadcast unedited, balanced programs showing government meetings and public policy events. C-Span offers three television channels and one radio channel.

C-SPAN is a private business. But unlike other broadcasting stations, C-SPAN does not aim to make a profit. Cable television systems across the United States pay C-SPAN for its programs. It does not receive any money from the United States government.

C-SPAN’s main purpose is to inform the American people about the work of their lawmakers. It also provides general information about political activities. America’s cable television industry created C-SPAN in nineteen seventy-nine. It broadcasts meetings of the United States House of Representatives.

In nineteen eighty-two, C-SPAN expanded its programs to twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In nineteen eighty-six, C-SPAN two was created and began televising meetings of the United States Senate. It also presents programs about current events and issues. And it broadcasts a popular program on weekends called Book TV.

C-SPAN three began broadcasting in nineteen ninety-seven. It shows public affairs events from Washington and around the country. It broadcasts meetings of Congressional committees, news conferences, meetings of political groups and speeches by political leaders. The C-Span radio program mainly offers a mix of programs from the three television networks.

Today, eighty-five million homes in the United States can receive C-SPAN television. Estimates say more than twenty-eight million people watch C-SPAN each week.

Internet users around the world can watch all three C-SPAN television channels and listen to C-SPAN radio online. Go to

The Pointer Sisters


The Pointer Sisters have been a popular singing group since the nineteen seventies. The group started with four sisters. The youngest sister, June, died last month. She will be remembered through the songs she sang with her sisters. Steve Ember tells us more.


Music critics say the Pointer Sisters defined music of the nineteen seventies and eighties. The four sisters began singing when they were children. They sang with their two older brothers in their father’s church in Oakland, California. The sisters later formed a group and became popular during the nineteen seventies. Their first album, called “The Pointer Sisters,” was released in nineteen seventy-three. Their first hit song was “Yes We Can Can.”


The youngest sister, June, recorded two albums of her own. Here she sings “Love on the Line” from her album called “June Pointer.“


In nineteen eighty-four the Pointer Sisters won two Grammy Awards for their songs “Automatic” and “Jump (For My Love.)” Another of their songs remains popular today. We leave you with that song, “I’m So Excited,” by the Pointer Sisters.



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

Our show was written by Lawan Davis, Dana Demange and Daniel Kirch. Caty Weaver was our producer.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.