MFF Presents 3 Not-To-Miss Films!



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
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 Programmer Scott Braid reports on the 16th Annual Provincetown Film Festival

Sunday a week ago marked the wrap of the 16th annual Provincetown International Film Festival, a delightful and thoughtfully programmed festival centered in Cape Cod’s most charming and friendly town. PIFF pulled out all the stops this year in bringing world-class film and filmmakers to town. Their formidable line-up included a number of fantastic films and several wonderful special events.

Among the films in the PIFF line-up, a dozen or so appeared within MFF 2014 back in May. One of the notable overlaps in programming was Desiree Akhavan’s hilarious and heartfelt, APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR which was very warmly received by Ptown audiences and took home the fest’s Tangerine Entertainment Juice Fund award, a cash prize given at several different festivals in support of outstanding female filmmakers.


Desiree Akhavan with Tangerine Entertainment’s Anne Hubbell

MFF 2014’s FORT TILDEN (SXSW Grand Jury prize winner), the uproarious satirical dark comedy that offers a withering critique of a certain kind of vapid Brooklynite also made its way to the Cape, making a big splash with Ptown audiences in its 3 screenings there.


Directors Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers host a lively Q&A after screening their film FORT TILDEN at the Art House.

Other MFF 2014 narrative titles that made their way to PIFF included Gillian Robespierre’s breakout Sundance hit OBVIOUS CHILD, Joe Swanberg’s HAPPY CHRISTMAS, and Joel Potrykus’ BUZZARD. Meanwhile the documentary section included such MFF standouts as Marshall Curry’s POINT AND SHOOT, Joe Berlinger’s WHITEY, Ben Cotner and Ryan White’s THE CASE AGAINST 8, and Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman’s ART AND CRAFT.

As with any Maryland Film Festival, no Ptown Film Fest would be complete without the participation of the great John Waters. Here John was doing double duty reprising his MFF presentation of Catherine Breillat’s ABUSE OF WEAKNESS for Ptown audiences and acting as host/interviewer for legendary cult director David Cronenberg, who was being honored with the PIFF Filmmaker On The Edge award. Waters conducted a fascinating interview in which Cronenberg recalled turning down the chance to direct THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, watching Tom Cruise get passed over at an audition with Dino De Laurentiis, and a plethora of other fascinating stories about his nearly 50 years as a filmmaker. The same event saw a fun conversation between film critic B. Ruby Rich and PIFF Career Achievement honoree Debra Winger.


Cronenberg and Waters, seen here with PIFF’s Career Achievement Award-winner Debra Winger (photo from


Cronenberg talks about his career in conversation with John Waters at Provincetown’s Town Hall

Of course I didn’t travel all the way to the tip of Cape Cod just to watch and talk about movies I’ve already seen during the programming period for MFF. The main reason for me to go to any festival is to discover wonderful films I haven’t seen and Ptown did not disappoint in this department.

My two favorites films that I had yet to see at PIFF both came out of their documentary section. Nancy Kates’ REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG was an unexpectedly artful and fascinating look into the life of the late writer, filmmaker, political activist, etc. Constructed over the course of 8 years, the film goes to great lengths to create an atmosphere that reflects Sontag’s (and of course the filmmaker’s own) aesthetic sensibilities while offering an interesting and insightful appraisal of her life and work.


Director Nancy Kates discusses REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG, after PIFF screening at the Schoolhouse Gallery

The documentary that really knocked me out however, was Jesse Moss’ THE OVERNIGHTERS, an intense and powerful doc about the small town of Williston, North Dakota that is overwhelmed by its near overnight transformation into a fracking boom town. Thousands of men and women seeking employment in the oil fields or in ancillary industries springing up around them, overwhelming the towns resources, real estate and many folks nerves. At the center of the story is a local Lutheran pastor who is devoted to helping and housing the many desperate unemployed who come to town. At times his devotion to the plight of the “overnighters” as they’re called, puts him at odds with the town and even his own congregation. A fascinating insight into human nature, small town politics and the brutal reality of searching for employment during lean times, THE OVERNIGHTERS provides a riveting viewing experience throughout building to a mind-blowing crescendo, leaving the viewer much to ponder upon leaving the theater.


Still from Jesse Moss’ THE OVERNIGHTERS

In the narrative department, Ira Sachs’ haunting and heartfelt LOVE IS STRANGE provided a very satisfying viewing experience. The film stars John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as a senior-age gay couple who finally are able to marry after 39 years together, only to be forced out of their Manhattan apartment shortly thereafter by rising real estate prices. As they try to find a new home the couple has to separate for the first time in decades, staying with friends and relatives, putting a strain on both their relationship and those they’re staying with. Excellent performances are the key here and Molina and Lithgow deliver as does the supporting cast which includes Oscar-winner Marisa Tomei.


Director Ira Sachs discusses his latest film, LOVE IS STRANGE at Provincetown’s Town Hall

To close out the weekend, PIFF brought in acclaimed filmmaker Jonathan Demme to present his latest work A MASTER BUILDER. A film which finds Demme collaborating with the legendary Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, the duo perhaps most famous in cinematic circles for their 1981 collaboration with Louis Malle, MY DINNER WITH ANDRE. Their latest outing, A MASTER BUILDER is an ambitious adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder Solness. The two elder statesman of stage and screen (Gregory and Shawn also star in the film) were in attendance and with Demme hosted a rousing Q&A following the screening. The three greats discussed their excitement to have had the opportunity to work on this project together and the challenges of shooting such a project on a limited budget in just over a week. Reminding the audience that even legendary film artists often have to struggle to fund a project that they wish to complete on their own terms. It was a fitting and fun way to close out such a fine year for PIFF. The fun and festive closing party and awards ceremony made the evening all the more delightful. I look forward to visiting both Provincetown and its film festival again in June 2015!

From l to r: Wallace Shawn, Andre Gregory and Jonathan Demme, discussing their collaboration on A MASTER BUILDER

(All photos by Scott Braid unless otherwise noted.)

Maryland Film Festival Announces Opening Night Shorts and 2014 Closing Night Film; Advanced Online Ticket Sales Now Active!

Maryland Film Festival concludes our 2014 lineup announcements by unveiling our Opening Night Shorts program, and our Closing Night film, Sara Colangelo’s Little Accidents. Also announced were two late-breaking features added to MFF 2014’s lineup, Riley StearnsFaults, and Desiree Akhavan’s Appropriate Behavior.  Advanced online ticket sales are now active; click here for film schedule and to purchase tickets.


Maryland Film Festival 2014’s Closing Night film will be Sara Colangelo’s drama Little Accidents, which explores the aftermath of a coal-mining disaster on a small Appalachian town. The film, which premiered at Sundance 2014 to great acclaim, stars Elizabeth Banks, Boyd Holbrook, Chloë Sevigny, Jacob Lofland, and Josh Lucas, and was shot by Rachel Morrison (Fruitvale Station, Sound of My Voice). The script was developed at Sundance Labs, and won the 2011 Maryland Filmmakers Fellowship, which is administered by Maryland Film Festival. Director Sara Colangelo and some of her filmmaking team will host the screening, which will take place the evening of Sunday, May 11th in MICA’s Brown Center. The Closing Night party will take place in the Filmmaker Tent Village immediately after the screening.

Maryland Film Festival prides itself on its special advocacy for short-form filmmaking. We first devoted our Opening Night to short films in 2002, and have done so each festival since 2004. Past years’ Opening Night programs have included work from filmmakers such as David Lowery, Lauren Wolkstein, Frances Bodomo, Riley Stearns, and Bobcat Goldthwait. In addition to devoting our opening night to shorts, MFF 2014 will also feature 10 short-film programs, featuring work of all genres from around the globe.
All Opening Night shorts will be hosted by their filmmaker on the evening of Wednesday, May 7th in MICA’s Brown Center.

MFF 2014’s Opening Night Shorts are: 



THE BRAVEST, THE BOLDEST  Director: Moon Molson
Two Army Casualty Notification Officers arrive at the Harlem projects to deliver Sayeeda Porter some news about her son serving in the war in the Middle East. But whatever it is they have to say, Sayeeda ain’t trying to hear it. Moon Molson is the director of previous MFF shorts Pop Foul and Crazy Beats Strong Every Time; The Bravest, The Boldest screened in the Shorts Competition at Sundance 2014.




EASY  Director: Daniel Laabs
A character study that follows the relationship between two brothers; one on the verge of becoming an adult, the other becoming a teenager. Daniel Laabs is the co-director of MFF 2011’s short film 8; Easy premiered within SXSW 2014.



I WAS A TEENAGE GIRL  Director: Augustine Frizzell

Emma and Jesse are close friends. One night, after an intense breakup, they have a heartfelt conversation that challenges the boundaries of their friendship in an unexpected way. I Was A Teenage Girl premiered within SXSW 2014.



MORE THAN TWO HOURS  (Iran) Director: Ali Asgari

It’s 3 a.m., and a boy and a girl are wandering the city. They are looking for a hospital to cure the girl, but it’s much harder than they thought. More Than Two Hours was nominated for the Palme d’Or for best short film at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.



VERBATIM  Director: Brett Weiner

A jaded lawyer wastes an afternoon trying to determine if a government employee has ever used a photocopier. All the dialogue in this film comes from an actual deposition filed with the Supreme Court of Ohio. Verbatim premiered within the Shorts Competition at Sundance 2014.




Shirin is a young woman caught between identities: bisexual, but afraid that coming out to her parents will prevent her from being the perfect Iranian-American daughter; a hip Brooklynite whose friends—and particularly her ex-girlfriend—can’t understand her trepidation about being honest with her family about her sexuality. In the depth of its characters and relatability of its situations, Desiree Akhavan’s warm and hilarious debut feature stands alongside filmmakers like Noah Baumbach, Lena Dunham, and Nicole Holofcener in delivering romantic comedy of the very highest order.



FAULTS (Riley Stearns)

Ansel Roth is one of the world’s leading experts on cults, and has built a career out of helping former members overcome brainwashing and reintegrate into society. He’s also a broken man, joylessly slogging from hotel to hotel in a futile attempt to promote his poorly received second book to ever-dwindling crowds. So when he’s approached by a distraught couple seeking his help in rescuing their daughter from a new and powerful cult family, Ansel’s anything but enthusiastic—until they put a large sum of money on the table. From Riley Stearns, director of MFF 2013’s Opening Night short The Cub, comes a brilliant film that confidently moves between dark comedy, thriller, serious drama.

Maryland Film Festival 2014 will take place May 711, 2014 on seven screens in downtown Baltimore. Our full lineup includes approximately 50 feature films and 10 short-film programs from around the world. All U.S. feature films will be hosted by filmmakers. MFF 2014’s full line-up is available here: