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.


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.



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.


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





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.



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.



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.

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.