Chinese New Year: Celebrating with Food and Art


Meet Baolin Zhang, who creates edible festival toys out of rice flour. He will travel to Washington, DC, from Beijing to demonstrate how to make these dough figurines at our third annual Chinese New Year Celebration on Sunday, February 5.

Although this craft does not require complicated skills or rare materials, it does take a lot of artistic practice. At his demonstration, Zhang will show how he kneads colored dough into different shapes. In the video, you can see how he uses small bamboo slits to depict people, animals, and deities from traditional folktales. Along with glutinous rice flour, he uses other edible materials to create his art, including wax and honey to prevent cracking or mildewing.

After watching Bai’s demonstration, you can watch another Beijing artist use liquid sugar to paint beautiful creatures from the Chinese zodiac. Don’t worry if all this edible art makes you hungry: Pinch Dumpling will sell steamed dumplings, which you can enjoy as a casual lunch with friends and family.

All activities are free and open to the public. For more information (and to invite your friends), check out the event listing on Facebook.

“The Salesman” Makes Headlines

"The Salesman" screens Sunday, February 5, at the National Gallery of Art as part of Reseeing Iran: The 21st Annual Iranian Film Festival.

“The Salesman” screens Sunday, February 5, at the National Gallery of Art as part of Reseeing Iran: The 21st Annual Iranian Film Festival.

Every once in a while, a film that we present unexpectedly hits the headlines. Such is the case with the centerpiece of this year’s Iranian Film Festival, Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman. It already opened the festival to a crowd of more than four hundred people, who filled the AFI Silver Theatre’s largest auditorium to capacity on a rainy Sunday afternoon last month. It returns this Sunday for an encore screening at our other festival partner, the National Gallery of Art.

Two days after the AFI screening, nominations were announced for the 89th Academy Awards—including The Salesman for best foreign language film. This in itself is no surprise. Farhadi’s film A Separation, was, in 2012, the first Iranian film to win the same award, launching Farhadi to international fame and inspiring huge celebrations in the streets of his native country. The story of a marriage whose fissures are exposed when an intruder breaks into the couple’s home, The Salesman is every bit as compelling as its predecessor.

Still from "The Salesman"

Still from “The Salesman”

In the days since, however, the happy news of The Salesman’s Oscar nomination has been overshadowed by the news surrounding the executive order on travel. The film’s star Taraneh Alidoosti announced that she would boycott the Oscar ceremony, declaring on Twitter, “I won’t attend the #AcademyAwards 2017 in protest.” Shortly thereafter, Farhadi, who had planned to use his trip to Los Angeles as an opportunity to speak out about the government-issued order, released this statement. It announced that he too would boycott the ceremony, even if an exception were made allowing him to travel.

Whether you come for the well-crafted drama of Farhadi’s film, the performances of Alidoosti and her equally talented costar Shahab Hosseini, or simply to support Iranian cinema in the nation’s capital, I hope to see you on Sunday.