Festival Programming Highlights #6: THE ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA, KID-THING, THIS IS NOT A FILM

As Maryland Film Festival begins its first full day of programming – we’re running films on all 5 screens of The Charles starting today at 11am, as well as MICA’s Brown Center and WindUp Space later today – here’s another round of programming picks from our own Eric Hatch for your consideration.

THE ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA

THE ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA
This riveting documentary offers an informative and angering look at the history of U.S. atomic energy. It argues that our nation’s nuclear policy was flawed from the very beginning, and has left us holding a legacy of abysmal environmental conditions, major public-health outbreaks, and dangerously decrepit infrastructure. The filmmaking team here is Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce, who also brought us both the much-discussed ART OF THE STEAL and MFF 2011’s LAST DAYS HERE.  From the shady politics behind art museums to the dark side of the hard-rock lifestyle, these filmmakers keep tackling intriguingly different topics with consistently exciting results. Bonus points for some very funny (and insightful) appearances from Alec Baldwin! THE ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA plays tonight at 9:40pm at MICA.

 

KID-THING

KID-THING
We love the Zellner Brothers here at MFF. From their many psychotronic, madcap shorts to their delirious 2008 feature GOLIATH, Nathan and David Z. have long been favorites of Baltimore audiences (and film programmers). Their new feature KID-THING, which premiered at Sundance, gives their aesthetic an unexpected art-house twist as it follows a mischievous 10-year-old Texas girl who, through solitude, has developed a unique outlook on life. It’s an offbeat, sumptuous film that’s like a mash-up of THE CATECHISM CATACLYSM and (the good parts of) TREE OF LIFE. We’re very proud to have both Zellners here, alongside cameraman Clay Liford and lead Sydney Aguirre, who delivers an amazing film-debut performance.  KID-THING plays tonight at 5:30pm at the Charles Theater, and again at 5pm on Saturday 5/5 at the Charles Theater.

THIS IS NOT A FILM

THIS IS NOT A FILM
If you’ve been following the political situation of Jafar Panahi, the director behind such masterpieces as THE CIRCLE and CRIMSON GOLD, THIS IS NOT A FILM is simply required viewing. Placed under house arrest and banned from doing the thing he knows and loves best – filmmaking – Panahi responded with this collaborative self-portrait charged with risk and uncertainty. It’s something like a film, made under severely compromised conditions. As Mika Sam writes in our program notes for the film, “Not merely concerned with the everyday, THIS IS NOT A FILM poses compelling questions about acts of defiance and human expression.”  THIS IS NOT A FILM plays tonight at 7:30pm at MICA and Saturday 5/5 at 12:00pm at the Charles Theater.

– Eric Hatch, Director of Programming

 

 

SATURDAY

 

As MFF 2012 reaches its mid-point, here’s another pair of programming picks from Eric Hatch–two very different films, both of which have their first of two screenings today, Saturday, and then repeat on Sunday.

 

JEFF

This beautiful, brilliant, and somehow not (visually) graphic film is half-doc, half-fiction, and 100% about Jeffrey Dahmer. That said, this is a million miles from the lurid pulp that comprises most serial-killer film and literature. Instead, what we have here is sometimes quite beautiful dramatic filmmaking a la Gus Van Sant fused to documentary interviews with three people changed by Jeffrey Dahmer—a neighbor, a medical examiner, and the interrogator who got the killer’s confession. We’ll have both director Chris James Thompson and Dahmer’s interrogator, Patrick Kennedy, here for our screenings of this unique hybrid film. Jeff is something unexpected, exciting, and new.

 

GAYBY

Looking to laugh? You can’t go wrong with Gayby.  As much about straight people looking for love as it is an insider’s look at the pleasures and pitfalls of modern gay culture, this crossover comedy follows two thirty-something friends who, despite incompatible sexual preferences, decide to make a baby (and do it the old fashioned-way). We had director Jonathan Lisecki’s short of the same name here for MFF 2010 and again for that summer’s Artscape, and it was a runaway hit at both. This feature generously reimagines and expands upon that short, with warm and hilarious results. Gayby brims with a contagious belief in our capacities for love and friendship—and earns it by never cheating in its honest portrayal of real life in all its messy, hilarious, awkward complexities.


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