MFF Named One of “The 25 Coolest Film Festivals In The World” by MovieMaker Magazine

Copy-2-of-Spread1-620x400Maryland Film Festival is thrilled to be named in MovieMaker Magazine’s top “25 Coolest Film Festivals In The World” a list that chronicles “the world’s weirdest and most wonderful cinematic celebrations” across the globe.  Other festivals honored include Lumière Film Festival, Hong Kong International Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, South by Southwest, and Zürich Film Festival. Click here for the complete “25 Coolest Film Festivals In The World” List inMovieMaker Magazine.

Included in this year’s judging panel was MFF alum Josephine Decker (BUTTER ON THE LATCH, THOU WAST MILD AND LOVELY) whose films had their theatrical debut at IFP in New York this past weekend.  We send a huge thank you out to the selection panel and promise to bring you another incredible festival in 2015!

Here is what MovieMaker Magazine had to say about us:

More and more, we will find this fest world-premiering the best of indie cinema, because they are regularly drawing filmmakers in for a one-of-a-kind weekend of parties and delicious food. Plus, filmmakers can attend their Filmmaker Conference and get confidential inside information on the industry, directly from other filmmakers. A priceless resource.”

In Memory of Visionary Filmmaker Michael Shamberg

Michael ShambergMaryland Film Festival is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of beloved filmmaker and MFF alum Michael Shamberg, who passed away on November 1st, 2014 after a long battle with illness.

Michael Shamberg (1952-2014) was a music video pioneer, filmmaker, collaborative artist and founder of Factory Records in New York.  He worked with Joy Division and produced several music videos for bands including New Order, Patti Smith, Grace Jones, B-52’s, R.E.M, Throwing Muses, Kristin Hersh and Electronic. He collaborated with artists and filmmakers including Robert Breer, William Wegman, Robert Frank, Phillip DeCouflé and Robert Longo to make groundbreaking music videos. He also brought in artists such as Lawrence Weiner, John Baldessari and Barbara Kruger to do posters for the bands.

Michael was an unconventional moviemaker whose filmmaking lived outside the mainstream. Chris Marker was a close friend and collaborator, and Michael was able to provide work in the early careers of prominent filmmakers like Jonathan Demme and Kathryn Bigelow.

He was a part of the Maryland Film Festival family both as an alum and longtime member of the MFF Screening Committee.  Michael’s deep appreciation for film culture included a rich knowledge of contemporary international cinema, a passion he shared with MFF audiences in his eloquent introduction of Tsai Ming-liang’s I DON’T WANT TO SLEEP ALONE within MFF 2007.

Pioneering in its time, Michael’s feature film SOUVENIR played within the 1999 Maryland Film Festival. SOUVENIR was shot on 35mm film, video and super 8, with computer graphic elements, all components digitized for editing, and then re-transferred to film for the final print.  It was shot in Paris over a period of 15 days and is a meditative exploration of memory, technology, history, chance, environment and geographical displacement.

I made SOUVENIR to create an emotional journey for the viewer. The film was written in Paris, where, as a displaced person, I absorbed the influences of the familiar and the foreign – of sculpture and of architecture, and of the European cinema – to draw the story out.

- Michael Shamberg, 1999 MFF Program Book

Michael’s short film TRIBECA, an early document of the post-punk band A Certain Ratio, was also screened within the 2011 Maryland Film Festival.

Michael was an amazingly talented artist and filmmaker whose intelligence, curiosity and good will led to friendship and collaboration with an extraordinary number of prominent (and obscure) artists, musicians, filmmakers, dancers, poets, and writers around the world.  He will be dearly missed.

Our sincerest condolences go out to Michael Shamberg’s friends and family.

MFF Alum Laura Poitras’ New Documentary CITIZENFOUR Opens Friday in Select Cities!

William Binney and Laura Poitras

L to R: Former NSA Official William Binney and Filmmaker Laura Poitras at the 10/22 sneak preview of CITIZENFOUR in Washington, DC.

MFF Director Jed Dietz was in attendance at last night’s sneak preview of CITIZENFOUR, the new documentary from Academy Award-nominated director Laura Poitras about governmental surveillance and Edward Snowden. Poitras is a 2012 MacArthur Genius Fellowship recipient and two-time MFF Alum, screening both Oscar-nominated MY COUNTRY MY COUNTRY (MFF 2006) and THE OATH (MFF 2010).  She was in attendance for the screening, along with several people featured in the film, including former NSA official William Binney.

Poitras’ new documentary is a real life thriller, unfolding by the minute, giving audiences unprecedented access to the filmmaker and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA).

“The film is so tense and surprising as you go through it.  It’s as good as any of the Bourne movies, but better because it’s real.  It’s amazing storytelling,” Dietz said.

CITIZENFOUR places you in the room with Poitras, Greenwald, and Snowden as they attempt to manage the media storm raging outside, forced to make quick decisions that will impact their lives and all of those around them. The film not only shows you the dangers of governmental surveillance—it makes you feel them. After seeing the film, you may never think the same way about your phone, email, credit card, web browser, or profile, ever again.

CITIZENFOUR opens in select cities this Friday and will tentatively open in Baltimore at the Charles Theatre on Friday 10/31.  See the Charles’ website for more details.


Stavros Niarchos Foundation Makes $5 Million Naming Gift for Parkway Theater!

Artist's Conception of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Film Center. (Rendering courtesy of Ziger/Snead Architects)

Artist’s Conception of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Film Center. (Rendering courtesy of Ziger/Snead Architects)

We are thrilled to announce that the Stavros Niarchos Foundation has committed $5 million to Johns Hopkins University, enabling Maryland Film Festival, JHU, and the Maryland Institute College of Art to transform Baltimore’s historic Parkway Theater into a center for the study, production, and exhibition of film.

The new Stavros Niarchos Foundation Film Center will be a cinema showplace with three screens, 600 seats and live performance space. Scheduled to open in late 2016, it will help to anchor the Station North neighborhood’s developing role as a Baltimore arts destination, supporting cultural and economic growth in the area.
“With the new state-of-the-art Stavros Niarchos Foundation Film Center, the Maryland Film Festival will greatly expand its reach,” said MFF director Jed Dietz. “The center will enable us to bring more great films and filmmakers to Baltimore, host a broad range of arts programs, serve as a cultural anchor for the film community, and continue to market Baltimore as a leading location for film and TV production.  The center will be a thriving hub for film culture and creative film-making on the East Coast.”

“This is a once-in-a-generation moment for Johns Hopkins and our partners at MICA and the Maryland Film Festival to reclaim a part of Baltimore’s storied cultural history and transform it into the heart of our community’s vibrant, dynamic future,” Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels said.  “With the visionary support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, we are seeding artistic and economic opportunities for our students, our neighbors, and our city.”

The 420-seat Parkway Theater, built in 1915 near the corner of Charles Street and North Avenue, was a classic American movie palace patterned after the West End Theater in London and the Strand in New York. It closed in the urban decline of the 1970s, but in recent years the corner of Charles and North has become a key component in planning for the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

Maryland was one of the first states to create arts and entertainment districts as an economic model and Station North was Baltimore’s first, generating significant economic development, tax revenue and employment since its inception in 2002.

“The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is firmly committed to supporting community development such as that at the Station North Arts and Entertainment District and excited to partner with this unique alliance of academic and cultural institutions in Baltimore,” said Andreas Dracopoulos, co-president of the board of directors of the foundation. “We believe the combination of universities and arts organizations is a great untapped resource for improving our cities, and seek to provide support for the best initiatives such coalitions develop. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Film Center will be one of these.”

MFF Alum Rory Kennedy’s LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM Opens Today at the Charles Theater!

LDVMFF Alum Rory Kennedy‘s new award-winning documentary about the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War, LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM, opens in Baltimore today at the Charles Theater.  Click here to purchase tickets.  LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Perhaps the most striking thing about LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM, Rory Kennedy’s eye-opening documentary about the 1975 evacuation of the American Embassy in Saigon, is how calmly it surveys what was once among the angriest topics in American political life. The story is full of emotion and danger, heroism and treachery, but it is told in a mood of rueful retrospect rather than simmering partisan rage. Ms. Kennedy, whose uncle John F. Kennedy expanded American involvement in Vietnam and whose father, Robert F. Kennedy, became one of the ensuing war’s most passionate critics, explores its final episode with an open mind and lively curiosity. There are old clips that have never been widely seen and pieces of information that may surprise many viewers.
The New York Times, 9/4/14
Rory Kennedy’s award-winning documentary ETHEL screened within the 2012 Maryland Film Festival and again as part of the MFF/WYPR Spotlight Series. 

Film Synopsis
During the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese Army closes in on Saigon as South Vietnamese resistance crumbles. The United States has only a skeleton crew of diplomats and military operatives still in the country. As Communist victory becomes inevitable and the U.S. readies to withdraw, some Americans begin to consider the certain imprisonment and possible death of their South Vietnamese allies, co-workers, and friends. Meanwhile, the prospect of an official evacuation of South Vietnamese becomes terminally delayed by Congressional gridlock and the inexplicably optimistic U.S. Ambassador. With the clock ticking and the city under fire, a number of heroic Americans take matters into their own hands, engaging in unsanctioned and often makeshift operations in a desperate effort to save as many South Vietnamese lives as possible.

Sweaty Eyeballs Animation Invitational Returns Friday 10/17!

SWEATYEYEBALLSMaryland Film Festival is proud to be a sponsor of the 3rd Annual Sweaty Eyeballs Animation Invitational, which returns to the MICA Brown Center on Friday 10/17 at 7:30pm with a mind-blowing array of international, independent short animations. Curated by Phil Davis (Towson University) and Max Porter (Maryland Institute College of Art); including narrative, experimental, and music video work made with a variety of techniques ranging from stop motion, hand drawn, to CGI. Come on out for a night of weird and beautiful animation and cast your vote for the audience choice award!

3rd Annual Sweaty Eyeballs Animation Invitational Screening
Friday October 17, 2014
7:30 PM
Falvey Hall Auditorium – MICA Brown Center
1300 W. Mount Royal Ave. Baltimore, MD
$5 general admission;
FREE for Friends of the Festival, students (with valid student ID), and University faculty/staff

MFF Named “Best Film Festival/Series” in City Paper’s “Best of Baltimore” Reader’s Poll!

bcp-best-of-baltimore-2014-intro-20140912-001Thank you, Baltimore! We’re very happy to announce that MFF has once again been named Best Film Festival/Series in the City Paper‘s 2014 “Best of Baltimore” Reader’s Poll!

Issues hit newsstands today — be sure to pick one up or click here to check it out online!

Also honored in this year’s “Best of Baltimore” issue is MFF alum Chris LaMartina who won for Best Filmmaker. LaMartina’s film CALL GIRL OF CTHULHU had its premiere at MFF 2014.

Also receiving a shout out is MFF’s own Operations & Development Manager, Rahne Alexander, whose band The Degenerettes was part of Ladyfest, which received the honor of Best Music Festival in this year’s awards.

We’re thrilled to be part of what makes the Charm City art scene so vibrant and look forward to bringing you another amazing film festival next year!

MFF 2014’s HELLION with Kat Candler at Stevenson University on Thursday 9/25!

Kat Candler

Kat Candler

We’re please to announce that MFF alum Kat Candler has been named Stevenson University’s Department of Film/Video Artist-in-Residence for Fall 2014. Click here for more information on the Stevenson University website.

From Wednesday 9/24 through Friday 9/26, Stevenson University will host Candler where she will visit classrooms and talk about her work as a filmmaker and her success at adapting her Sundance-screened short film HELLION into the feature length film that played at MFF 2014.
Stevenson University will hold a free screening of HELLION on Thursday, September 25 at 8pm in the Stevenson University Soundstage (located in the School of Design building at 11200-A Gundry Lane, Owings Mills, MD).
There will be reception prior to the screening at 7pm in the School of Design lobby and a Q&A with Ms. Candler afterwards. Both the reception and the screening are free and open to the general public but space is limited; please RSVP to Chris Reed at reserve a spot. 
HELLION Screening with Kat Candler
Thursday 9/25
7pm Reception; 8pm Screening
Stevenson University Soundstage
School of Design
11200-A Gundry Lane
Owings Mills, MD

Kat Candler’s short films HELLION (2012) and BLACK METAL (2013), both premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and screened within MFF. Her previous films have screened at such festivals as Los Angeles Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival, SXSW, and Slamdance. She is a two-time IFP participant and was recently awarded the San Francisco Film Society/Kenneth Rainin Foundation filmmaking grant. Candler is also a lecturer on film at the University of Texas in Austin.

The 2015 Maryland Film Festival Call For Submissions Is Now Open!

unnamedAttention, filmmakers: the 2015 Maryland Film Festival Call For Submissions is now open!  Please help us spread the word!  The deadline to submit a film is December 15th — and while we’ll be accepting submissions until then, sending your films and videos to us well before the deadline is a great way to call attention to your work. Act now, don’t wait!

We are looking for high-quality films and videos of all types: feature length and shorts; narratives and documentaries; domestic and foreign; genre work and the unclassifiable. And while we are a general-audience festival, we do consider animation, experimental, underground, music video, and other forms overlooked or marginalized by some festivals.

Stronger consideration is given to films that have NOT had significant prior exposure in the Baltimore market. Screenings in the Baltimore area prior to Maryland Film Festival may result in a film’s rejection, as may certain forms of television, cable, internet, and/or home-video availability/exposure prior to the festival. Feature films that have already screened in Baltimore prior to our festival dates may be disqualified.

Please note that the Maryland Film Festival is a general-interest festival located in Maryland that screens film and video work from all over the world, and NOT solely devoted to films made in Maryland. That said, we do encourage local filmmakers to enter, and have screened some made-in-Maryland films each year.

We are actively working to increase the presence of international films at the festival, and encourage filmmakers from all over the world to send us their work.

The Maryland Film Festival has showcased short films in many unique ways, including devoting our Opening Night to a short-film program, and offering potential screening opportunities beyond the festival.

We are open to films of all varieties and lengths; unique voices and viewpoints are always a plus, as are humor, innovation, and psychotronic content.

Maryland Film Festival is a non-competition festival.

Due to the number of entries we receive, we require that all Maryland Film Festival entries be processed through Withoutabox. This enables us to keep accurate, complete information on all films submitted to us.

For more information, please visit mdfilmfest/submissions.

John Waters Retrospective “Fifty Years of John Waters: How Much Can You Take?” Runs 9/5-9/14 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center!

John Waters in 1964. New York Times/Dudley Gray.

John Waters in 1964. New York Times/Dudley Gray.

Legendary filmmaker and MFF Board Member John Waters is being honored with a 50 year retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. “Fifty Years of John Waters: How Much Can You Take” runs Friday, September 5th – Sunday, September 14th.

Waters was interviewed in today’s edition of The New York Times about his retrospective:

“It’s like being alive at your funeral. I’m not going to get anything better.”
-John Waters (click here for the complete interview).

The retrospective includes screenings of his 12 feature films; early, little-seen shorts, including “Hag in a Black Leather Jacket”; and a selection of films he says he envies, like Roger Michell’s “The Mother,” about an affair between a grandmother and a pre-Bond Daniel Craig.

Click here for the complete schedule on the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s website.


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