Long Live the Movies: The 2015 Maryland Film Festival 2015 Is Upon Us!

MD Film Fest 2015

Welcome back, Maryland Film Festival! Baltimore needs you. Starting last night (Wednesday, May 6), and running through Sunday, May 10, this annual event brings films and filmmakers from around the world to Charm City for a whirlwind slate of screenings that offers documentaries, narrative (fiction) films, hybrids of both, experimental films, and a plethora of short films to match the features. This year, the Department of Film/Video at Stevenson – which I currently Chair – is one of the sponsors of the festival, and, in particular, of some specific events at the festival.

The festival began, as it has for a number of years now, with a program of short films, hosted this time by filmmakers Darius Clark Monroe (Evolution of a Criminal) and Riley Stearns (Faults), both of whom had their films play here last year. It was a powerful collection of 5 very different movies, one of which was made by a local director. Here they are, in the order in which they played:

  • Share (Pippa Bianco) – A beautifully restrained film about the consequences of a shared (sexually explicit, nonconsensual) video involving a high-school student, played by Taissa Farmiga (6 Years, also at this year’s fest)
  • Melville (James M. Johnston) – What is the connection between parenting, cancer and hip-hop? Find out in this carefully plotted and evocatively photographed short film.
  • Pink Grapefruit (Michael Mohan) – This is a lovely meditation on the evolution of relationships, and also the winner of the Jury Award for Narrative Shorts at this years’s SXSW Festival
  • Charlotte (Angel Kristi Williams) – This moving little gem – last night’s Baltimore-based film – explores the moody, ever-changing emotional landscape of teenagers.
  • The Bad Boy of Bowling (Bryan Storkel) – Who knew that bowling – once a major television draw, but since eclipsed by other sports – could be so exciting? Find out, as you watch Pete Weber revel in his role as “the bad boy of bowling.”

For the rest of the week, here are the events that Stevenson University is sponsoring:

Friday, May 8:
4-5pm, Tent Village, on North Avenue next to the MICA Lazarus Center, is the first of 3 Stevenson-sponsored sessions. It’s a documentary panel that I will moderate with local filmmaker Ramona Diaz (The LearningDon’t Stop Believin’), and three folks associated with films at this year’s festival: Sandra Bagaria (subject of Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile), Michael Beach Nichols (co-director of Welcome to Leith) and Luke Meyer (director of Breaking a Monster).
Saturday, May 9:
11am-12pm, Tent Village, on North Avenue next to the MICA Lazarus Center, is the first “Stevenson Student Talk-Back Session,” with filmmaker Kris Swanberg, whose movie Unexpected is playing that evening.
Sunday, May 10:
11am-12pm, Tent Village, on North Avenue next to the MICA Lazarus Center, is the second “Stevenson Student Talk-Back Session,” with Khalik Allah, whose documentary Field Niggas is playing later that day.
Come one, come all!

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