Start off a political week in the arts with back-to-back double features at the American Cinematheque. This weekend's Politics in Film series features a selection of movies and documentaries addressing the American political process. Each of today's double features includes an earnest examination of the system and a sharp satire for balance. The Making of the President, 5 p.m., includes the Clinton campaign documentary "The War Room" followed by "The Candidate" with Robert Redford.The Washington Merry-Go-Round, 9:30 p.m., opens with the Frank Capra classic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington",screened with "Advise & Consent". $7 (general admission); $5 (members). Lloyd E. Rigler Theater at the Egyptian,6712 Hollywood Blvd. (323) 466-3456.
The Actor's Gang presents an updated revival of "How to Steal an Election: A Dirty Politics Musical". Dressed up in Stars and Stripes, the musical comedy is at heart a cynical satire. Reworked with the Democratic convention in mind, this version maintains the original '60s story, following Calvin Coolidge as he educates two political innocents in the ways of the world. Thurs.-Sun., 8 p.m. Through Sept. 23. $15. 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. For more information, call (323) 465-0566, orvisit www.theactorsgang.com
With "'Gore More Years' or 'Son of a Bush,'" Washington, D.C.-based comedy group Gross National Product (GNP) brings their headlines-into-punchlines style of sketch comedy to DemocraticConvention-obsessed Los Angeles. Known for their musical numbers on topical issues, GNP should have plenty to sing about. Wed.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun. 7 p.m. $19.50-$26. Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. For reservations or more information, call (310) 477-2055.
Sacco and Vanzetti. Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Leonard Peltier. The extensive history of political prisoners in the United States is examined in an exhibit of posters at Highways Performance Space. Titled "Can't Jail the Spirit!" and organized by the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, the exhibit consists of posters from throughout the 20th century. In some cases, the exhibit displays 30 years or more of posters in support of a single prisoner, including some for prisoners who remain jailed today. Through Aug. 27. Sat. and Sun., 6:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 1651 18th St., Santa Monica. For more information call (310) 453-1755.
"Images of Eastern European Jewry," an exhibition of portrait paintings by Franceil P. Masi, is based on the thriving Jewish communities of pre-World War II Europe. Masi spent three years working at theSurvivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, cataloguing survivor testimonies. Her research in Chassidiccommunities during this time inspired the series of portraits, themselves testimony to the vibranceof European Jewish life through their rich color and expressions. Now on view at the USC Hillel Jewish Center Art Gallery. Mon.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Through October 14. 3300 S. Hoover St., Los Angeles. (213) 747-9135.
BalletFest 2000 brings together six ballet companies to perform, share and celebrate classical dance. Participating companies include the Los Angeles Chamber Ballet, Pasadena Dance Theatre and State Street Ballet. One of the highlights of tonight's performance is a special appearance by Northern California's Diablo Ballet in a performance of George Balanchine's "Apollo." California State University Los Angeles, Luckman Fine Arts Gallery 5151 State University Drive Los Angeles. $20, $25 (general); $12.50 (students/seniors).
If portraiture and ballet aren't enough to clear your head from the circus of convention politics, head to Topanga for a classic celebration of the ordinary. The people of Grover's Corners have been familiar characters at the Theatricum since 1983, when the Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Our Town" opened their first Equity Repertory season, and the small-town setting makes it an ideal production for the canyon amphitheater. Artistic Director Ellen Geer takes on the role of stage manager in this summer's production. 8 p.m. Final Friday performance. Show continues Sat., 8 p.m. through Sept. 30; Sat., 3 p.m. through Oct. 21. $20/$13 (general admission); $14/$11 (students, seniors and Equity members); $7 (children 6-12). The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga. (310) 455-3723.