MFF 2014’s EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL with Filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe 3/3!

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Maryland Film Festival is proud to bring back to Baltimore one of MFF 2014’s most provocative, insightful, personal, and inspiring films, EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL! Director Darius Clark Monroe will be with us to introduce his work and answer your questions after the film!

Spotlight-Bubble_v2_600pxThis film will be part of the MFF/WYPR Spotlight Series and WYPR’s Tom Hall will conduct a 10 minute interview with Darius Clark Monroe following the screening. Click here for a listing of previous Spotlight Series podcasts: http://programs.wypr.org/podcast/maryland-film-festival/wypr-spotlight-series

Event Info:
Tuesday, March 3
7:30pm
MICA Brown Center
1301 W. Mt. Royal Avenue
$10/free for Friends of the Festival

How does a 16-year-old go from honors student to bank robber? Filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe explores the financial desperation that led him to turn to crime as a teenager in Texas, and returns to the scene of the crime to interview family members, close friends, and mentors to reflect on the aftermath.

Vital, thoughtful, and deeply personal, first-timer Darius Clark Monroe’s autobiographical doc stands as a testament to the power of movies to stir empathy.
— Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice

Its images, its shape, its tone, and its implications make it a terrific movie, as well as the birth of an artist.
— Richard Brody, The New Yorker

MFF 2014’s program notes:
Darius Clark Monroe’s EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL brings something new to the world of film. In examining a bank robbery committed by Texas high-school students, Monroe’s film interweaves suspenseful reenactment footage with candid interviews from people involved in every angle of the crime. We hear from participants, victims, family members, and law-enforcement officials, all very open in discussing how the crime impacted them at the time, and how they relate to it now. The twist? The filmmaker himself was one of the men involved in the robbery.

With an unflinching eye, Monroe dissects the various factors that drove him from a lighthearted childhood to this extreme act, giving us first-person access to both the facts and the emotional weight embedded in the planning, the crime, and its aftermath. In the process, he not only reconnects with the people with whom he robbed the bank, but also reaches out to people on the receiving end of the crime.

Executive-produced by Spike Lee and a hit at its SXSW 2014 premiere, EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL is a unique project delivered with great skill, confidence, and insight. Occupying its own niche at the intersection of documentary, true crime, and personal essay, it’s both a gripping viewing experience and a conversation-starter—about race, class, education, and the prison system, just for starters—of the highest order. (Eric Allen Hatch)

A Brief Interview with Filmmaker Jessica Oreck

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Jessica Oreck (photo credit: IMDB)

Maryland Film Festival recently caught up with filmmaker and MFF alum Jessica Oreck whose film THE VANQUISHING OF THE WITCH BABA YAGA screens Tuesday 2/17 at the MICA Brown Center at 7:30pm.

Jessica’s earlier features include BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO (MFF 2009) and AATSINKI: THE STORY OF ARCTIC COWBOYS (MFF 2013).

What inspired you to create THE VANQUISHING OF THE WITCH BABA YAGA?

When I started this project more than six years ago, it was very specifically about the common practice of mushroom collecting in Eastern Europe. In my head it was a familiar investigation of a cultural phenomenon much like my first film Beetle Queen. But after I had spent nearly a year researching, the author Andrei Codrescu put me in touch with a bunch of his poet friends in Romania. I spent the first couple weeks of production with them in Transylvania, collecting mushrooms, wandering through forest, cooking, and talking about history, literature, art, censorship, and social dissidents. It was from these early conversations that the focus of the film was carved.

What is the biggest challenge you faced making this film?

There are always difficulties. Our camera started having speed and registration issues about halfway through production. And everyday we would pack a five-person crew into a crushed and cramped car in extreme heat, bumping over nearly non-existent roads. We would get stopped at borders, lose equipment in the mud, get food poisoning, get lost. But overall, I think those things sort of blur in my memory, and I am left with a misty, romantic nostalgia for that place and time.

Who inspires you with regard to filmmaking?

Oh, it runs the gamut: Claire Denis, Jean Painleve, Bert Haanstra, Werner Herzog, David Attenborough, Jan Svankmajer, old Hollywood Westerns, Pixar…

What are you listening to music-wise right now?

Always XTC. And my friend Paul Grimstad (who also composed most of the music for the film) makes the wildest pop music – so I am always bouncing around in his world too. But I’ve been on this Classic Country kick of late.

What is next for you?

I’m sort of taking a break from feature filmmaking for the time being.
But I am currently in production on some short educational content for the web. I really love making shorts and series. The return/investment ratio is so much more satisfying. And these days, the educational aspect is really what gets me up in the morning.

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THE VANQUISHING OF THE WITCH BABA YAGA screens on Tuesday 2/17 at 7:30pm at the MICA Brown Center. Jessica will be there to introduce the film and do a Q & A afterwards. Tickets will be sold at the door and are $10/free for MFF members and MICA students and faculty (with ID).

MFF Presents 3 Not-To-Miss Films!

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THE VANQUISHING OF THE WITCH BABA YAGA

Maryland Film Festival is pleased to reprise three incredible films from our 2014 festival in February and March: THE VANQUISHING OF THE WITCH BABA YAGA with filmmaker Jessica Oreck (2/17); EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL with filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe (3/3) and APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR with filmmaker Desiree Akhavan (3/30).  The filmmakers will be present to introduce each of the films and answer your questions afterwards!

These screenings will take place at the MICA Brown Center at 7:30pm and will be $10/free for current Friends of the Festival and MICA students/faculty (with ID).  In case you missed them at our festival last year, here’s a another chance to check out these three incredible films you won’t find in theaters:

Baba1-759x506Tuesday 2/17, 7:30pm
MFF 2014 Festival Reprise: THE VANQUISHING OF THE WITCH BABA YAGA with filmmaker Jessica Oreck
MICA Brown Center
Mystery/Experimental (2014). Filmmaker Jessica Oreck explores Eastern Europe’s haunted woodlands.
evolution_of_a_criminal-01Tuesday 3/3, 7:30pm
The MFF/WYPR Spotlight Series/2014 Festival Reprise: EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL with filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe
MICA Brown Center
Documentary (2014). After 10 years, filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe returns to his hometown to examine how his robbery of a bank affected his family, friends and other victims. Interview between WYPR’s Tom Hall and Darius Clark Monroe follows the screening for MFF/WYPR Spotlight Series.
appropriate-behaviorMonday 3/30, 7:30pm
MFF 2014 Festival Reprise: APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR with filmmaker Desiree Akhavan
7:30pm
MICA Brown Center
Drama/Romance (2014). Shirin struggles to become an ideal Persian daughter, a politically correct bisexual, and a hip young woman from Brooklyn.
Tickets for these screenings will go on sale at the MICA Brown Center on the day of the event starting at 6:30pm.  Plenty of seating is available and no reservations are required.  Current Friends of the Festival can check in with their names at the MFF table and get 2 free tickets to the screening on the night of the show. To join or renew your Friends of the Festival membership, click here.

MFF Alum Michael Tully presents PING PONG SUMMER at Stevenson University on Thursday 2/5!

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Michael Tully. Source: Getty Images.

We’re pleased to announce that MFF alum Michael Tully has been named Stevenson University Department of Film/Video’s Artist-in-Residence for Spring 2015!

Michael Tully grew up in Maryland and attended UMBC. All of Tully’s films have had their regional premiere at MFF, including his directorial debut COCAINE ANGEL (MFF 2006), SILVER JEW (MFF 2007), SEPTIEN (MFF 2011), and PING PONG SUMMER (MFF 2014).

Tully will be on the Stevenson campus Wednesday 2/4 – Friday 2/6 visiting classes and talking about his work. There will be a free screening of PING PONG SUMMER at the Stevenson University Soundstage on Thursday 2/5 at 7pm with a reception prior to the screening and a Q&A with Mr. Tully afterwards. Both the reception and the screening are free and open to the general public.

Click here for more information on the Stevenson University blog.

MFF 2015 All-Access Passes On Sale Now! Early Bird Discount Til 2/13!

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We’re excited to announce that our popular MFF 2015 All-Access passes are now on sale to the general public at the discounted rate of $350 (regular price $375)! The early bird discount ends Friday 2/13. Call our office at 410-752-8083 to order your All-Access pass today; this offer is not available online.

Maryland Film Festival returns to the Station North Arts District this May 6-10 for five days of incredible film, filmmakers, workshops, parties, and more, and the All-Access pass is the best way to experience everything Maryland Film Festival has to offer!

Pass holders get:
  • Priority seating at all screenings (including the John Waters and Alloy Orchestra screenings) without a ticket and ahead of regular ticket holders;
  • Access to our Opening Night Shorts Program and Gala at the MICA Brown Center, Closing Night Screening and Party, and the Filmmakers Lounge!
  • DUE TO LIMITED SUPPLY, WE SELL OUT EVERY YEAR!  CALL NOW TO ORDER YOURS TODAY!
PRE-SALE DISCOUNT TO GENERAL PUBLIC (2/2-2/13): $350
ALL-ACCESS PASSES AFTER 2/13: $375

(Limited supply; get yours while supplies last!)

Call us at 410-752-8083 M-F, 10am-6pm to order yours today!  Don’t miss this rare opportunity!

All-Access Passes are NOT available online. Supplies are limited, so act now!

Jed’s Sundance Updates #5: Bobcat Goldthwait’s CALL ME LUCKY

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L to R: Bob Crimmins and Bobcat Goldthwait. Photo credit: Jed Dietz.

Long-time MFF alum Bobcat Goldthwait’s new documentary CALL ME LUCKY honors the career and life of comedian Bob Crimmins, a sort of below-the-radar-for most of us Lenny Bruce for our time. He’s funny and insightful and flares a kind of rage that one sees in stand up comedy from time to time. But then the story kicks in.  An emotionally powerful film, beautifully shot and structured, Goldthwait continues to grow and startle as a filmmaker.

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Bobcat and Crimmins receive a standing ovation at Sundance 2015. Photo credit: Jed Dietz.

Goldthwait has presented films at several of our past festivals. His found footage horror film WILLOW CREEK played within MFF 2013, GOD BLESS AMERICA played within MFF 2011, and WORLD’S GREATEST DAD starring Robin Williams played within MFF 2009.  His film SLEEPING DOGS LIE was the John Waters pick for MFF 2007.

Stay tuned for more updates from Sundance 2015 on the MFF blog!

Jed’s Sundance Updates #4: GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF

Based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright’s expose of the highly controlled world of Scientology, Alex Gibney’s new documentary GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF is an extraordinary chronicle.

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The film features interviews with eight former members of the Church of Scientology, some of whom are pictured above.  This photo was taken at the Q & A following the screening.

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Above is Lawrence Wright who wrote the book this documentary is based on, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief.

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Pictured above is Oscar-winning director and MFF alum Alex Gibney taking questions after the screening of his film. Gibney is an MFF alum for multiple films including MAGIC TRIP, ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOMGONZO: THE LIFE AND WORK OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON, and CASINO JACK AND THE UNITED STATES OF MONEY.  He also guest-presented Serbian film director Dušan Makavejev’s WR: MYSTERIES OF THE ORGANISM (1971) within the 2008 Maryland Film Festival.

Stay tuned for more updates from Sundance 2015 on the MFF blog!

Jed’s Sundance Updates #3: Kris Swanberg and Rodrigo Garcia

Sundance 2015 is now in full swing and Jed Dietz has been checking out the latest film offerings from MFF filmmaker alums like Kris Swanberg whose film UNEXPECTED just had its world premiere, and Rodrigo Garcia whose film LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT just opened at Sundance.

Here are his updates:

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Pictured above, MFF alum Kris Swanberg (far left) and cast members on stage for Q & A after the successful premiere of UNEXPECTED, her beautifully wrought film about two women dealing with their first pregnancy. Amazing.

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Pictured above, MFF alum and winner of the Maryland Filmmaker Fellowship Rodrigo Garcia (right) takes questions with Ewan McGregor (center) who plays both Jesus and Satan in LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT, a remarkable, improbable, beautiful and profoundly spiritual film about the time late in his life that Jesus spent in the dessert facing temptation and confronting his responsibilities.

Stay tuned for more updates from Sundance 2015 on the MFF blog!

Jed’s Sundance Updates #2!

Jed reports back from Sundance 2015 where he has been taking in films and catching up with MFF alums, filmmakers and other folks in attendance at the festival.

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Pictured above, acclaimed filmmaker and MFF alum Ramin Bahrani (whose film CHOP SHOP played within MFF 2008) discusses his current film 99 HOMES, a horrifying portrayal of the retail real estate business at its most unfettered. The film stars Mike Shannon and Andrew Garfield.

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Pictured above is Donald Margulies, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and adapter of David Lipsky‘s 2008 memoir Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, about the five unforgettable days the Rolling Stone editor spent with iconic writer David Foster Wallace after the publication of Infinite Jest. This photo was taken after the Q&A for THE END OF THE TOUR starring Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as David Lipsky.

Though CenterStage has staged some of Marguiles’ work, Jed hadn’t seen the playwright since his days as a student in a theater group Jed ran at John Dewey High School in Brooklyn.

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Above is a photo from the Q & A after the screening of THE END OF THE TOUR, where the film’s director James Ponsoldt (THE SPECTACULAR NOW) answers questions. L to R: Jesse Eisenberg, Donald Margulies, Jason Segel, James Ponsoldt.

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Pictured above is THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL writer/director Marielle Heller, winner of the 2012 Maryland Filmmaker Fellowship for her script for this film, gathering her cast for Q & A. Marielle is holding the mic and Kristen Wiig, remarkable newcomer Bel Powley (who plays Minnie in the film) and Alexander Skarsgård are to Marielle’s left.

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Pictured above, filmmakers Amy Ziering, far left, and MFF alum Kirby Dick, far right, taking questions with some of the subjects of their infuriating documentary THE HUNTING GROUND about sexual assault on college campuses and the institutional resistance to dealing with it. Three of the students who are using Title IX to change the campuses are between them. Senators Boxer and Gillibrand were in the audience for the screening and Jed reports that “the whole room was ready to engage.” Kirby Dick was the recipient of the 1998 Maryland Filmmakers Fellowship for BEYOND THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE.

Stay tuned for more updates from Sundance 2015 on the MFF blog!

Jed’s Sundance Updates #1 – Robert Redford and Liz Garbus on Opening Night of Sundance 2015

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Robert Redford. Photo by Jed Dietz.

The 2015 Sundance Film Festival is now in full swing, and MFF director Jed Dietz is onsite in Park City, UT reporting back to us. Pictured above, Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford introduces MFF alum Liz Garbus‘ new documentary on Nina Simone, WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? which played after Bryan Buckley‘s comedy THE BRONZE on Opening Night of the Sundance Film Festival.

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Liz Garbus. Photo by Jed Dietz.

Liz Garbus is an Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated director and producer. Her gripping death penalty documentary THE EXECUTION OF WANDA JEAN played within MFF 2002. Garbus is also co-founder of Moxie Firecracker Films with fellow MFF alum Rory Kennedy.

After the Sundance 2015 Opening Night screening of WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? music star John Legend made an unannounced appearance and covered 3 of Nina Simone’s songs.

Stay tuned to the MFF blog for more photos and updates from Jed’s trip to Sundance 2015!



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