Posts Tagged 'Amy Seimetz'

MFF Programming Team Reports Back from TIFF 2013!


L to R: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Kelly Reichardt at TIFF 2013 NIGHT MOVES Q & A. Photo by Scott Braid.

Greetings from Toronto, where the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival is in full swing. Each year Maryland Film Festival’s programming team heads to TIFF to take the pulse of the current world-cinema scene and scout films to bring back to Baltimore—conveniently, just as our own 2014 call for entries has launched.

As TIFF 2013 reaches its midpoint, our programmers are well on their way to watching ~40 films apiece in our quest to bring home another Dogtooth or Post Tenebras Lux. Here are some first reactions to films that may be of particular interest to MFF fans:



CLUB SANDWICH—From Mexico comes a coming-of-age story that has as much to say about parenthood as it does adolescence. The plot is very simple: a 40-something mother and her shy teenaged son, who have an unusually close relationship, vacation at a motel during its off-season. Mother and son enjoy a relaxed stay together, lounging by the pool, ordering room service, playing board games, and nurturing a rapport that’s half bickering, half affectionate teasing. But when another family arrives with a teenaged daughter who is just a bit older and more experienced, the two teenagers develop a flirtation—to both the bemusement and consternation of the boy’s mother. MFF followers may remember director Fernando Eimbcke from 2009’s Lake Tahoe; here he has developed a delightfully deadpan look at the first fumblings of love—and a mother’s unexpected reactions—that stands as his warmest, richest, and funniest film yet.



NIGHT MOVESKelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy; MFF 2011’s Meek’s Cutoff) returns with a quiet but riveting character study energized by extremely gripping thriller notes. Night Moves’ intimate tone will be familiar to followers of Reichardt’s work, but it also organically broadens her usual narrative scope as it tells its story of militant environmental activists who band together to plot the destruction of a river dam in Oregon. Jesse Eisenberg gives a restrained but winning central performance as a brooding young man whose actions steer him into unexpectedly gray moral territories; his bold performance sheds his usual persona as effectively as Michelle Williams did hers to star in Reichardt’s last two features. Where recent art-house thriller The East portrayed a similar subculture with cartoonish strokes, Night Moves counters with deep, knowing realism, fleshing out true-to-life personalities and dilemmas. As with all of Reichardt’s films, the natural world of the Pacific Northwest comes alive on screen to serve as more than mere setting, factoring heavily into the narrative and the poetically presented inner worlds of these characters.



THE SACRAMENT—The new thriller from Ti West (House of the Devil) is built around a veritable who’s who of familiar MFF faces, including Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz, Kentucker Audley, and Kate Lyn Sheil. As a fashion photographer (Audley) becomes increasingly worried about his sister, who’s joined a communal family as a means to escape her problems with addiction, he invites a Vice crew (including cameraman Swanberg) to visit the commune with him. There we meet his sister (Seimetz) and a diverse, seemingly harmonious cluster of family members who swear they made the right decision in shedding their belongings to live together with their new “Father.” But as the story deepens–with nods to both The Source Family and Jonestown–some disturbing horrors come to the surface.  West’s latest boasts a riveting payoff, not to mention excellent performances from all.

Still ahead this week are the latest from master filmmakers Claire Denis, Tsai Ming-liang, and Hong Sang-soo; new films from the directors of MFF sleepers Daytime Drinking and Blind Loves; the highly buzzed, fresh-from-Cannes thriller Blue Ruin by MFF alum Jeremy Saulnier (director of MFF 2007’s Murder Party; cinematographer of such films as Septien and I Used to Be Darker); and almost certainly some under-the-radar discoveries from newcomers.  With the festival’s annual “City to City” program focusing on the explosion of intriguing films coming from Greece, we have our hands full: indeed, when all’s said and done we’ll have viewed nearly 100 films from all corners of the globe. Stay tuned for more TIFF updates from MFF’s programming team, and thanks for reading!

MFF Presents SUN DON’T SHINE with special guest Kate Lyn Sheil on 4/3!

Sun Don't ShineAmy Seimetzs brilliant psychological thriller SUN DON’T SHINE, a massive hit at Maryland Film Festival 2012, returns to Baltimore for one screening only! Joining us as a special guest will be star Kate Lyn Sheil! Tickets are $7 for the general public, and FREE to current Friends of the Festival, MICA and JHU Students (with ID).   Click here for more information.

Maryland Film Festival presents SUN DON’T SHINE
Wednesday 4/3
MICA Brown Center
1301 W. Mt. Royal Avenue
Baltimore, MD
$7/Free for Friends of the Festival, MICA and JHU Students (with ID)!

“[A] wondrously accomplished and furiously expressive drama blending the moody rambles of a road movie with the tightly ratcheted criminal tension of a film noir.”–Richard Brody, The New Yorker

Each year produces a handful of daring films that not only challenge audiences, but also set the independent filmmaking community on fire. A gritty and grimy outsider thriller that exists in a perpetual state of panic, SUN DON’T SHINE emphatically belongs in that exclusive category, a film that needs to be seen and discussed.

MFF audience favorites Kentucker Audley (BAD FEVER) and Kate Lyn Sheil (THE COMEDY and V/H/S) star as a young couple pushed to the brink by extreme circumstances. As they drive through the sweat and murk of Florida, it becomes clear that they’re on the run—perhaps from their own miasma of ever-escalating jealousies and paranoia as much as from a shared terrible secret.

Every aspect of this production is top-notch, from the perpetual-motion-machine performances by Audley and Sheil to the moody and evocative 16mm cinematography. As with the beautifully abrasive provocations that are The Brown Bunny and Frownland, SUN DON’T SHINE seems to spring simultaneously from some ecstatic 1970s cinema wasteland and the present-day vanguard, even as it mounts a winning case for its own timelessness. Recently revived cinema treasures like Zulawski’s POSSESSION and Loden’s WANDA (John Waters’ pick for MFF 2012) are other rare anchors of orientation for this free and unfettered work.

-Eric Allen Hatch, MFF Director of Programming

Matthew Porterfield, David Lowery, Amy Seimetz Among MFF Alum Featured in Sundance 2013

The last few years have seen an explosion of Maryland Film Festival alumni landing new films in the annual Sundance Film Festival. That trend continued to rise yesterday as Sundance began unveiling the line-up for their 2013 festival (taking place January 17-27 in Park City, Utah).

Sundance has established itself as arguably the premiere festival for American independent film, as well as one of the world’s largest “market” festivals, where distributors acquire many a film for distribution–as was the case with this year’s art-house smash BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD by MFF alum Benh Zeitlin, which premiered at Sundance 2012.

The number of MFF connections in Sundance’s 2013 line-up thus far is so numerous we’re still tracking them, but the following are a dozen feature-film highlights. Needless to say, these are films we’ll be tracking at Sundance and throughout the year as we begin scouting films for Maryland Film Festival 2013:

I USED TO BE DARKER, directed by Baltimore’s Matthew Porterfield (of MFF 2006’s HAMILTON and MFF 2010’s PUTTY HILL), shot in Baltimore, and co-written by Baltimore’s Amy Belk.

AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS, directed by David Lowery (director of MFF 2009 feature ST. NICK and MFF 2011 Opening Night short PIONEER), featuring an all-star cast that includes Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Nate Parker, and Keith Carradine.

PIT STOP, directed by Yen Tan, co-written by David Lowery, and featuring a cast that includes Amy Seimetz (co-star of MFF 2010’s TINY FURNITURE; director of MFF 2012’s SUN DON’T SHINE) and John Merriman (co-writer/co-director/co-star of MFF 2012’s Opening Night short MODERN MAN).

MOTHER OF GEORGE, directed by Andrew Dosunmu of MFF 2011’s RESTLESS CITY.  Andrew won the Maryland Filmmakers Fellowship in 2005 for this script. The Fellowship is awarded annually by a group of independent readers,  picked from Friends of the Festival supporters, and given to a filmmaker who’s script has been through the Sundance Labs.

TOUCHY FEELY, directed by Lynn Shelton, the writer/director of such titles as HUMPDAY, YOUR SISTER’S SISTER, and MFF 2008’s MY EFFORTLESS BRILLIANCE.

COMPUTER CHESS, directed by Andrew Bujalski, director of MFF 2005’s MUTUAL APPRECIATION.

99%: THE OCCUPY WALL STREET COLLABORATIVE FILM, a collaborative documentary whose filmmakers include Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites of MFF 2010’s UNTIL THE LIGHT TAKES US.

AFTER TILLER, co-directed by Martha Shane of MFF 2008’s BI THE WAY.

THE GOOD LIFE, co-directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine of MFF 2007’s WAR/DANCE.

A TEACHER, directed by Hannah Fidell and featuring a cast that includes MFF alums Jennifer Prediger, Jonny Mars, and Chris Dubeck.

UPSTREAM COLOR, directed by Shane Carruth and starring frequent MFF alum Amy Seimetz (TINY FURNITURE, SMALL POND).

GOD LOVES UGANDA, directed by Roger Ross Williams of MFF 2010’s Oscar-winning MUSIC BY PRUDENCE.

A big congratulations to all the filmmakers included in this year’s Sundance line-up! You can also head to Thompson on Hollywood, the Indiewire blog of noted film critic (and MFF 2012 guest) Anne Thompson, for more information on these and other announced Sundance titles.

MFF Alum, Filmmakers, and Writers on Zulawski’s strange POSSESSION!


Andrzej Zulawski’s 1981 art-house horror film POSSESSION lands in Baltimore for three screenings over the next week as part of The Revival Series at The Charles Theater.  It’s not a film for everyone, especially not the faint of heart. But MFF director of programming Eric Allen Hatch cites the film as a favorite, combining some of the best elements of such dark and brooding filmmakers as Kubrick, Fassbinder, Cronenberg, and Breillat. In celebration of the restored, uncut 35mm print of the film finally landing in town, he asked some MFF filmmaker alum and Baltimore-based culture writers who have been affected by the film to share their thoughts.

********NOTE: Minor SPOILERS and unfettered language follow***********


POSSESSION changed the way I thought about performance in film. Isabelle Adjani is so believably explosive in every scene; swinging recklessly from performance art to painfully personal direct address. The entire film feels very dangerous, in the best possible way, and also happens to contain some of the most haunting images I’ve ever seen on screen. Go see this movie! Even if you hate it, it’ll be a worthwhile experience.


JOHN BERNDT, Baltimore cultural force of nature (RED ROOM, HIGH ZERO, BERNDT GROUP)

Zulawski’s POSSESSION is exactly what every narrative film should be from my perspective: A remake of Antonioni’s RED DESERT as if directed by David Cronenberg and shot in 80’s Berlin, with an ambiguous and vertiginous craziness that borders on unique irresponsibility. For instance, Isabelle Adjani having a miscarriage in the subway (one of the greatest scenes ever shot); creeping things that seem more at home in the first ALIEN film; Sam Neil going berserk in a rocking chair. Add to it an unforgettably sleazy German guru named “Heinrich” who evokes the best of Klaus Kinski and Brother Theodore at once without a trace of humor, and you have a film that flawlessly, effortless makes no sense and is thoroughly turgid and creepy for 127 minutes without being boring or lapsing into self-parody—a movie that can only expand your mind, and, well, make you feel weird.



There is no classification for Possession– that would mean order, boundaries, rules.

There is no order when you’ve got the devil inside. 

If you’d like to meet the devil—and I do have a strange fascination with meeting the beast—go home and play a record backwards and draw pentagrams with marker on your floor and read Faust

If you’d like to wildly make love to the devil– go see Possession

It is one of the most influential works for me in its tenor and ability to transcend logic… yet it disturbingly makes sense… 

I was trying to end with a sentence that summed up its influence, but that would be too logical.



“Possession by Andrzej Zulawski: Histrionics, Surveillance, and Sex”

Possession validates the histrionics and explores the shattered subjectivities that arise when relationships fail. I’ve read the “histrionics” framing of Possession in another review, I don’t remember who wrote it, but it really hit me personally so I’m adhering to it. Having a split subjectivity, that of being both the subject and the object of one’s own existence, the do-er and the done to, the private and the watched, the surveilled and the self-policed, is a familiar phenomena of embodiment. Zulawski uses Cold War-era Berlin as a grey backdrop, the postmodern police state in which omniscience itself is problematic, and all the colors and moods of identity, of existence, are oppressed by the greyness of the eye of the State. Possession exists in the place where divorce meets war. The self is split between its own perception and its knowledge of being perceived, and there is a violence implicit in both ends of this perception. This type of subjectivity can be doubled, or at least magnified, when in a relationship with an other, and Isabelle Adjani’s performance of Anna brutally displays outwardly that inner breaking of glass, slamming of bones, slitting of throats, destruction of restaurants, and various forms of public bleeding that occur within some of us when those relationships fail, and those subjectivities no longer split but literally shatter, becoming other people, self- abusive, bleeding, screaming, homicidal freaks who in the case of Possession have demonic meltdowns on train platforms and give birth to tentacled monsters. To any onlooker this behavior is histrionic. It is thus doubtlessly seen as histrionic to the object-identified self, resulting in an endless cycle of self-conscious and self-aware hysteria, paranoia, panic, and self-inflicted pain. “Histrionic” is a word with a historical and linguistic attachment to women. Anna is desperate, violent, maniacal, cruel, sadistic, masochistic, ridiculous, validation-seeking, neglectful, incoherent, obscene and ultimately selfish but never whiny or insincere. Anna’s behavior takes her figural, inner subjective experience outward, into the literal world. Her miscarriage of faith is both an actual miscarriage and the birth of a monster, a better monster than the options already in place for her. Her histrionics are valid, as those from whom she seeks to free herself have not experienced her without sexual benefit or archetypal male indulgence.

Anna is involved with two men: a seemingly static, stable, gentle husband; and a lascivious, narcissistic lover with more muscle than substance. Though seemingly opposite archetypes, both men are too thoroughly self-impressed with their own neuroses to understand what she is actually up to, and what’s going on in the part of her that is not surveilled by an outer other. All she really wants is to be holed up in a dirty warehouse with a bandage on her throat and a private monster who will fuck her and expect nothing. With no one watching. No police, no children, no husband, no lover, no art, no dancing, no closet, no refrigerator, no groceries, no combing of hair. This woman wants to be left alone to experience her own sex. Is this kind of sex possible in the postmodern police state? Have we been watched, judged, aestheticized, fetishized, and physically tormented by the social construction of relationships to the point that our desires no longer have a home within a realist framework? Must the fantasy of being both alone and having the availability of an accessible state of pleasure be manifest through inhuman form? And if so, how do we keep these forms alive?




There’s nothing I admire more than a filmmaker who takes risks to visualize our darkest fears and anxieties. You will never see another film that even compares to the raw performances and visceral filmmaking techniques that Zulawski employs in Possession, the most epic story of obsession.

Zulawski’s Possession lays bare the unfiltered intensity of emotions that people go through during a breakup. As a filmmaker, he is able to transform us into a world where falling out of love feels like the apocalypse. The landscapes in Possession even match the characters’ dismal feelings about each other. This film is probably the most important cautionary tale about addiction.

Being in love is like a drug. And once that drug is taken away from us, we want it back and will go to all lengths in order to do so, even if the other person is not the same person we fell in love with in the first place. This film shows the horrors that happen when someone clings to a love that no longer exists.

It is no surprise to me that Possession is Zulawski’s most personal film. Films are therapy for the soul, and what better way to exert one’s destructive feelings than to do so on the big screen rather than in real life. I happened to be going through a breakup when I first saw Possession, and it struck a nerve. All the difficulties of moving on from a person were outwardly and explicitly exposed on the screen: the ugliness, the horror, the withdrawal, and the feelings of being torn up from the inside. As soon as love is stripped away from us, we try to solve the mystery of how such a thing could occur. At the core, Possession is a mystery about finding out what causes such a love to disappear, but the real horror is ultimately realizing that there is no answer to this impossible question.

There are many films about disintegrating marriages, but none that show the extreme inhumanity of possessive love as much as this film does. As such, the term “possessive love” is an oxymoron because it is clear that love does not exist when someone tries to possess another person, even more so when that person is clearly possessed by someone (or something) else. I won’t even mention what creature possesses Isabelle Adjani in this film— you just have to see for yourself.

This movie has clearly possessed me and is a masterpiece that everyone should see, especially for anyone who has ever gambled on love and lost big time.

For the broken hearted,

Love always,

But not in an addictive junkie way,

Lauren Wolkstein


Festival Programming Highlights #4: WILD IN THE STREETS; COME BACK, AFRICA; and SUN DON’T SHINE

As the 2012 Maryland Film Festival starts tonight (gulp), let’s step up our programmer’s picks. Here’s not two, but three new picks from MFF Director of Programming Eric Hatch.

WILD IN THE STREETS directed by Peter Baxter

Those who know me know that I wouldn’t be recommending a sports documentary unless it was something special. WILD IN THE STREETS is something special. Since medieval times, hundreds of people in the small UK town of Ashbourne have played a game. Anything goes for days, as massive swarms of people huddle a ball to goals miles away. Meanwhile, the game fights for survival as suburban homogenization creeps into the area. This very cool documentary is, on some level, about an all-consuming passion for sport, and appealing so, but the larger issues of community and tradition hold a universal appeal.  WILD IN THE STREETS plays on Friday 5/4 at 7:00pm at the WindUp Space and again on Saturday 5/5 at 1:30pm at the Charles Theater.

SUN DON'T SHINE directed by Amy Seimetz

If you share my fascination with ’60s and ’70s renegade filmmaking, well… this one’s for us. Director Amy Seimetz (who co-starred in MFF 2011’s SMALL POND, among many other credits in front of the camera) cites inspirations like A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE and TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, and it shows. This sweaty, grimy, swampy underground thriller is Florida-set and 16mm-shot, and would, not incidentally, pair very well with John Waters’ MFF 2012 pick, Barbara Loden’s 1970 feature, WANDA.  SUN DON’T SHINE plays on Friday 5/4 at 5:00pm and again on Saturday 5/5 at 7:30pm at the Charles Theater.

COME BACK, AFRICA directed by Lionel Rogosin

Those who caught ON THE BOWERY, the 1950s docu-fiction piece that played recently as part of the ever-excellent Revival Series at the Charles Theater, might be amazed that COME BACK, AFRICA comes from the same director. But Lionel Rogosin helmed this South African film, perhaps best-known for its break-out musical performances by Miriam Makeba, just three years after his stark New York-set drama. Both films were shot on location with a mixture of professional and amateur performers, with beautiful results. We’re very proud to be showcasing a beautifully restored 35mm print of this anti-Apartheid classic, to be presented by our friends Amy Heller and Dennis Doros of Milestone Films, who also brought us 2007’s restored print of KILLER OF SHEEP.

– Eric Hatch, Director of Programming

MFF Announces First Round of 2012 Titles!

Here’s a sneak peek at our first press release of MFF 2012 feature-length films. More soon! Thanks to everyone who came out to our Friends of the Festival MFF 2012 preview event last night. MFF 2012 begins in just three weeks – see you at the movies!


The fourteenth annual Maryland Film Festival takes place May 3-6 in downtown Baltimore, and the festival is thrilled to announce its first round of 2012 titles.

As with every year, the MFF 2012 full line-up will include 40+ new feature films and 75+ new shorts from around the world, as well as a vintage 3-D filma silent film with live music by Alloy Orchestra, and a favorite film selected by legendary filmmaker and MFF board member John Waters.

All U.S.-made feature films will be presented by their filmmakers.
The first 12 announced titles are:

THE ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA (Don Argott, Sheena M. Joyce)
The documentary team who explored museum politics in THE ART OF THE STEAL and hard-rock hard living in LAST DAYS HERE return with this shocking expose of the flawed logic and outdated infrastructure behind the U.S.’s atomic-energy program.

COME BACK, AFRICA (directed by Lionel Rogosin, presented by Milestone Films)
This 1960 feature, shot without permits in Johannesburg, illustrates the challenges and hardships of black migrant workers in the harsh days of apartheid. To be screened from a beautifully restored 35mm print.

COMPLIANCE (Craig Zobel)
Perhaps the most controversial film from Sundance 2012 lands in Baltimore. Craig Zobel’s narrative feature, inspired by true events, looks at the dark happenings that unfold after a figure of authority calls a fast-food restaurant and accuses an employee of theft.

DETROPIA (Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady)
From the co-directors of THE BOYS OF BARAKA and JESUS CAMP comes this documentary about the people and places that populate a collapsed metropolis trying to get back up on its feet.

GOD BLESS AMERICA (Bobcat Goldthwait)
MFF favorite Bobcat Goldthwait unleashes this angry, high-octane dark comedy about an unlikely modern-day Bonnie and Clyde who lash out at a vacuous, pop-culture obsessed America.

LOVELY MOLLY (Eduardo Sanchez)
The co-director of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT returns to his roots with this heady blend of horror and psychological thrills about a young woman returning to her childhood home.

SAVE THE DATE (Michael Mohan)
This warm mix of drama, comedy, and romance, co-written by acclaimed graphic-novel author Jeffrey Brown, follows a group of tangled friends and lovers in the music and arts scenes of present-day L.A. Stars include Lizzy Caplan (CLOVERFIELD), Martin Starr (FREAKS AND GEEKS), and Mark Webber.

SUN DON’T SHINE (Amy Seimetz)
A grimy, gritty story of two people pushed to the brink in the sweaty landscape of central Florida. Evocatively shot on Super 16mm, and starring festival favorites Kentucker Audley and Kate Lyn Sheil.


THIS IS NOT A FILM (Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Jafar Panahi)
From Iran comes this documentary about, and made in conjunction with, Jafar Panahi (THE CIRCLE, CRIMSON GOLD, OFFSIDE), who was placed under house arrest and banned from filmmaking in December 2010.

Hungarian master Béla Tarr’s self-proclaimed final film is a cinematographic tour de force, every bit as stark and provocative as earlier dark epics DAMNATION and SATANTANGO.


VITO (Jeffrey Schwarz)
The inspiring story of gay-rights activist and Celluloid Closet author Vito Russo, as told by the documentarian behind SPINE TINGLER: THE WILLIAM CASTLE STORY and the forthcoming I AM DIVINE.


WANDA (directed by Barbara Loden; presented by John Waters)
John Waters, who has presented a favorite film in each Maryland Film Festival since its launch in 1999, selects this renegade slice of ‘70s filmmaking by Barbara Loden, to be screened from a beautifully restored 35mm print.

MFF Alums Prevail at the 2012 SXSW Film Awards!

SXSW unveiled the majority of their 2012 film awards last night at an awards ceremony hosted by comedian Doug Benson, with many MFF alums taking home awards.

The Audience Award for Narrative Feature in Competition went to Megan GriffithsEDEN. Griffiths has worked as assistant director on several MFF titles, including THE CATECHISM CATACLYSM (2011) and ZOO (2007).

Griffiths also took home one of two Chicken & Egg Emergent Narrative Woman Director awards. The other went to Amy Seimetz for her first feature as director, SUN DON’T SHINE. Seimetz co-directed the MFF 2009 short ROUND TOWN GIRLS, and is perhaps best known as an actress featured in, among many other MFF titles, THE DISH & THE SPOON and SMALL POND. SUN DON’T SHINE will also be of interest to MFF audiences for its stars, MFF alum Kentucker Audley (BAD FEVER) and Kate Lyn Sheil (GREEN).

MFF alums also fared well in the awards for short films. The SXSW Wholphin award went to MFF faves Josh and Benny Safdie for their short THE BLACK BALLOON, and the Texas Shorts award went to Annie Silverstein for her short SPARK, shot by Nathan Duncan (director of MFF 2011’s experimental short GHOST MALL).

The audience awards for other categories (including Midnighters and Emerging Visions) will continue to be unveiled throughout the week. Meanwhile, with many filmmakers leaving town and the music conference quite literally taking over Austin, now through the weekend become prime days for dedicated film lovers to take advantage of shorter lines. At 16 films into my goal of 30+, one such film-goer signing off.

– Eric Allen Hatch, Director of Programming