Posts Tagged 'Stanley Nelson'

MFF Unveils the First 10 Titles of Our 2015 Lineup!

We have begun unveiling the lineup for our 17th annual festival, which will take place May 6-10 in downtown Baltimore and include approximately 50 feature films and 12 short-film programs from around the world.

The first ten feature films announced for MFF 2015 include the area premieres of highly anticipated independent narrative and documentary features, including Stanley Nelson’s riveting Black Panthers documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution; Kris Swanberg’s nuanced and emotionally resonant character study, Unexpected; Olivia Wyatt’s immersive look at Moken culture, Sailing a Sinking Sea; and Eugene Kotlyarenko’s delightfully anarchic rom-com, A Wonderful Cloud. Also just announced for MFF 2015 is the world premiere of Stephen Cone’s vibrant coming-of-age drama Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party.

Lineup announcements will continue over the next 2 weeks. The first ten titles announced for MFF 2015 are:



THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION (Stanley Nelson) Master documentarian Stanley Nelson has demonstrated an unparalleled ability to bring history to life with films such as Freedom Summer; The Murder of Emmett Till; and Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple.  Here he turns his lens on the revolutionary Black Panther Party and the various cultural forces that worked to support or destroy the group, creating an essential portrait of a singular radical moment in the American experience.



BREAKING A MONSTER (Luke Meyer) Viral-video sensation Unlocking the Truth, a teenage metal buzz-band from Brooklyn, navigate the bizarre current state of the record industry in this fascinating, fist-pumping, and often hilarious documentary. Fresh from its premiere at SXSW, this exceptional rock doc follows the band as they sign a major-label record deal and are suddenly caught up in an adult-driven world of contracts, tours, interviews, and branding. From Luke Meyer, co-director of MFF 2006 hit Darkon.

FUNNY BUNNY (Alison Bagnall)

FUNNY BUNNY (Alison Bagnall)

FUNNY BUNNY (Alison Bagnall) The writer/director of The Dish & the Spoon returns with this offbeat, infectious mix of comedy and drama. Kentucker Audley stars as an obesity-awareness canvasser who strikes up a friendship with a wealthy, emancipated 19-year-old named Titty (Olly Alexander) and the animal-rights-activist object of Titty’s desire, Ginger (Joslyn Jensen). Co-starring Josephine Decker, Louis Cancelmi, and Anna Margaret Hollyman.



HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY (Stephen Cone) A pool party celebrating the seventeenth birthday of Henry Gamble (Cole Doman), the son of a megachurch preacher (Pat Healy), sets the stage for this expertly observed ensemble drama. As sunny skies fade into moonlight, director Stephen Cone (The Wise Kids, Black Box) offers a subtle and insightful portrait of a community full of pressures and secrets —exploring identity, sexuality, and organized religion in the process. World premiere.



SAILING A SINKING SEA (Olivia Wyatt) This experimental documentary, which premiered at SXSW, looks at the traditional lifestyle of the Moken people, a seafaring community of Burma and Thailand. Olivia Wyatt’s gorgeous and immersive film transports viewers deep into the turquoise sea and onto thirteen different islands, giving us intimate access to a culture where shamans, mermaids, and sea gods collide with present-day practices. Executive-produced by Will Oldham.



STINKING HEAVEN (Nathan Silver) This ultra-dark comedy looks at a communal home for sober living in 1990s suburban New Jersey, which spirals into dysfunctional decline when an outsider arrives on the scene. Director Nathan Silver’s film boasts an uncompromising visual aesthetic that goes against the grain of contemporary indie filmmaking—not to mention a fantastic cast that includes Deragh Campbell, Hannah Gross, Keith Poulson, and Eleonore Hendricks.



TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL (Jeffrey Schwarz) Top-notch documentary biographer Jeffrey Schwarz has captivated MFF audiences with definitive looks at iconic personalities William Castle, Vito Russo, and Divine. Now he delivers the warm and intimate story of 1950s Hollywood heartthrob Tab Hunter, who simultaneously balanced a stratospheric career on the silver screen with a secret life as a gay man. From his rise to stardom to his reinvention as a cult-film star with John Waters—and a number of fascinating surprises—it’s all here.

UNEXPECTED (Kris Swanberg)

UNEXPECTED (Kris Swanberg)

UNEXPECTED (Kris Swanberg) High-school science teacher Samantha (Cobie Smulders), already dealing with stress and uncertainty as her low-income school prepares to close, finds out she’s pregnant. When she discovers her favorite student Jasmine (Gail Bean) is also with child, the two form a tight and unconventional bond. From Kris Swanberg (whose earlier features Empire Builder and It was great, but I was ready to come home. both screened within MFF) comes this refreshing character study that mines honest emotions and the quiet battlefields of love and friendship for real beauty and insight.

WELCOME TO LEITH (Michael Beach Nichols, Christopher K. Walker)

WELCOME TO LEITH (Michael Beach Nichols, Christopher K. Walker)

WELCOME TO LEITH (Michael Beach Nichols, Christopher K. Walker) This edge-of-your-seat documentary follows the arrival of notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb to a small town in North Dakota, where he promptly buys up land for like-minded collaborators and disrupts town council meetings, leading to fears that he plans a neo-Nazi takeover. As his behavior escalates further into the outrageous and threatens to get violent, a once-placid community must decide how to react.

A WONDERFUL CLOUD (Eugene Kotlyarenko)

A WONDERFUL CLOUD (Eugene Kotlyarenko)

A WONDERFUL CLOUD (Eugene Kotlyarenko) When his ex-girlfriend visits him in Los Angeles to resolve some lingering business entanglements, Eugene seeks to revisit old feelings, and introduces her to an LA populated by a wild cast of artists, scenesters, and eccentrics. Variety called this gleefully anarchic romantic comedy “a raucous, wholly improvised 21st-century Annie Hall.” Starring director Kotlyarenko (whose 0s & 1s had its world premiere at MFF 2010) and Kate Lyn Sheil (Sun Don’t Shine, House of Cards).

MFF 2014’s FREEDOM SUMMER Premieres on PBS’ American Experience TONIGHT at 9pm!


A demonstration in Atlantic City, the site of the 1964 Democratic Convention. FREEDOM SUMMER airs on PBS tonight. Photo credit: George Ballis/Take Stock.

MFF 2014’s FREEDOM SUMMER directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson airs TONIGHT (6/24) on PBS’ American Experience at 9pm.

“…it’s hard to imagine two hours better spent in front of a screen.”
Mike HaleThe New York Times, 6/23/14.  Click here for the complete review.
Film Synopsis from the MFF 2014 Program Book:
In 1962, only 6% of eligible African Americans in Mississippi were registered to vote, the lowest percentage of any state in the country. The tools used to block blacks from registering included ludicrous poll tests, violence, and other forms of sanctioned intimidation. Several Civil Rights groups determined to correct this, and, led by an extraordinary young man, Robert Moses they went to work. By 1964, they had recruited hundreds of college students from as far away as Yale and Stanford, along with religious leaders and other volunteers. They joined forces with brave local sharecroppers like Fannie Lou Hamer with the goal of educating and registering enough people to begin to challenge Mississippi and wake up the national Democratic Party leadership. Mississippi resisted with all its might, beating, arresting, and killing anyone advocating change.
The story has been told in multiple forms, but this riveting film by one of our most important filmmakers has an unusual power. Assembling incredible archival footage and insightful contemporary interviews with some people who participated in Freedom Summer, the film takes you deep into the world of institutional racism in 1964 Mississippi, and shockingly underscores the timidity of President Johnson and the Democratic Party.
Approaching the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, and in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to reverse field in the area of voting rights, this is a story that needs to be understood—and never forgotten.

MFF Director Jed Dietz Reports Back from Sundance 2014!

sundance2014Maryland Film Festival Director Jed Dietz is onsite in Park City, UT at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival reporting back highlights from the ground. Stay tuned for updates on the MFF blog, and make sure to check out his live radio appearance with 88.1FM WYPR’s Tom Hall on Friday 1/24.

Jed’s Sundance Update #1
The important filmmaker community of Sundance displayed itself right away. Jack Gerbes from the Maryland Film Office and Hannah Byron from Baltimore’s Department of Business and Economic Development were on the plane with me from Baltimore to Park City. Once we landed, I ran into MFF alum Mike Tully (whose Ocean City-set film, PING PONG SUMMER, premieres here) at baggage claim, and then I ran into MFF alum Joe Swanberg in the grocery store. This morning I caught up with a group of Johns Hopkins University students who I’d met at previous Sundance festivals when they were here with faculty member Linda DeLibero. Over 20 MFF filmmaker alums with films are in attendance at this year’s festival.

SUNDANCE1-Stanley NelsonI’m one day and five films in. The picture to the right is of Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Stanley Nelson, (JONESTOWN, FREEDOM RIDERS) doing Q & A after a screening of his great documentary FREEDOM SUMMER about the organizing efforts during the summer of 1964 to enfranchise African American voters in Mississippi.

Stanley Nelson’s film FREEDOM RIDERS, about the courageous band of civil rights activists called Freedom Riders who in 1961 challenged segregation laws in the American South, played at our 2010 film festival.

-Jed Dietz, MFF Director

ANNOUNCING: MFF PRODUCES A Conversation with Meredith Vieira and Award Winning Documentary Filmmakers!!


Meredith Vieira, co-host of NBC’s Today Show, contributing anchor for Dateline NBC, founding moderator and former co-host of The View, and correspondent for Turning Point, West 57th, and Sixty Minutes, will moderate a discussion with award-winning documentary filmmakers on the subject: “Are Documentary Filmmakers the New Journalists?” at this year’s Maryland Film Festival Fundraiser!

Friday, January 21, 2010

MICA, Brown Center

Documentary filmmakers, all alums of the Maryland Film Festival include: Alex Gibney (Oscar winner for TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE, and widely praised for ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM, CASINO JACK, and SPITZER), Rachel Grady (BOYS OF BARAKA, Oscar-nominated JESUS CAMP, and 12TH & DELAWARE), and award-winning and MacArthur “Genius” grant recipient Stanley Nelson (JONESTOWN, FREEDOM RIDERS).

**CALL 410.752.8083 to order tickets**

All Access: including the pre-reception, reserved seats conversation, and a special dinner with Viera and the filmmakers – $250

Conversation and Pre-reception: wine, beer and hors d’ouevres) – $90

Table Hosts: (10 All Access tickets, plus 10 student tickets for the Conversation)  – $5,000

Schedule of the evening:

6pm: Doors open, wine and beer reception

7:15pm: Auction and Conversation with Meridith Vieira, Alex Gibney, Rachel Grady and Stanley Nelson

9pm:All Access ticket-holder dinner with Vieira and the filmmakers in the MICA Main Building

It’s 830AM,

I just finished taping an interview with Marc Steiner for today’s Anthony McCarthy show and I’m about to see the first of 5 movies today. – Jed

The picture is of the great documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson and part of his crew answering a question after last nights screening of FREEDOM RIDERS.