Posts Tagged 'Tsai Ming-liang'

MFF Announces John Waters Pick: KILLER JOE and 14 Additional Feature Films

Maryland Film Festival continues to roll out the lineup for our 17th annual festival today, which will take place May 6-10, 2015 in downtown Baltimore and include approximately 50 feature films and 12 short-film programs from around the world.

Today’s announcement includes two special events that have become annual MFF traditions: a film selected and hosted by legendary filmmaker and MFF board member John Waters, and a silent film presented with a live original score by Alloy Orchestra. Waters has selected William Friedkin’s 2011 neo-noir Killer Joe, starring Matthew McConaughey; Alloy will accompany 1926’s Son of the Sheik, starring Rudolph Valentino.

In addition to these repertory-film events, Maryland Film Festival unveiled another fourteen feature films for MFF 2015, including the area premieres of an exciting array of emerging narrative, documentary, and international titles.

Lineup announcements for MFF 2015 will conclude later this week with all remaining titles, including its Opening Night Shorts and Closing Night film. The titles announced today for MFF 2015 are:

6-YEARS_Hannah-Fidell6 YEARS (Hannah Fidell) The director of MFF 2013’s A Teacher returns with the story of Mel (Taissa Farmiga), whose future becomes unsettled when her long-term boyfriend Dan (Ben Rosenfield)’s career aspirations pose a threat to the stability of their relationship. Co-starring Lindsay Burdge and Joshua Leonard, and executive-produced by Jay and Mark Duplass, this poignant drama boasts real relationship insights and resonant, true-to-life performances.

CROCODILE-GENNADIY_Steve-HooverCROCODILE GENNADIY (Steve Hoover) This intense, visually stunning, and morally complex documentary uses a remarkable central character as a window into change and tumult in contemporary Ukraine. Pastor Gennadiy Mokhnenko wages a one-man war against drug abuse and serves as a tough-love father figure to homeless and at-risk youth, squaring off with dealers and intervening in the lives of addicts. But is vigilante action the answer to these problems? Executive produced by Terrence Malick.

DRUNK_STONED_Douglas_TirolaDRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: THE STORY OF THE NATIONAL LAMPOON (Douglas Tirola) This uproarious documentary, which premiered at Sundance, brings the history of The National Lampoon to raucous life. In 1970, a new counterculture rag spun off from the Harvard Lampoon, launching a comedy revolution impacting not just the printed word but also film, television, radio, and beyond—and giving an early platform to some of the major talents of late-20thCentury comedy.

FIELD_NIGGAS_Khalik-AllahFIELD NIGGAS (Khalik Allah) Street photographer Khalik Allah takes us into the nightlife of 125th Street and Lexington in Harlem, shattering the usual wall between documentarian and subject as he paints portraits of modern street life filled with love and humor, but also hard times and regret. An immersive documentary with a unique visual sensibility, Allah’s film comes to MFF fresh from wowing audiences at True/False and Sarasota.

FOR_THE_PLASMA_Bingham-Bryant_Kyle-Molzan_FOR THE PLASMA (Bingham Bryant and Kyle Molzan) A young woman joins a friend in a sleepy town in Maine, where they use computers and digital cameras to observe a nearby forest, collecting abstruse data used to make stock-market predictions.  This challenging, idiosyncratic piece of cinema-as-puzzle finds a film language all its own; shot on Super 16mm, it also boasts an evocative score by experimental composer Keiichi Suzuki.

FRAME_BY_FRAME_Alexandria-Bombach_Mo-ScarpelliFRAME BY FRAME (Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli) This SXSW-premiered documentary follows four photographers in contemporary Afghanistan. These members of an emerging free press risk life and limb to fill the photojournalist void left by the withdraw of international media—not to mention make up for lost time, as photography was banned under Taliban rule. Their images and stories are unforgettable.

GIRLHOOD_Celine-SciammaGIRLHOOD (Céline Sciamma) In a tough suburb of Paris, teenager Marieme navigates an often harsh, male-dominated world—her life taking a new turn when she finds a place within an initially hostile all-girl gang. From the director of Water Lilies and Tomboy comes an emotionally rich drama that wowed audiences at Cannes, Toronto, and Sundance, driven by an unforgettable lead performance from Karidja Touré.

IN_THE_BASEMENT_Ulrich-SeidlIN THE BASEMENT (Ulrich Seidl) The director of the staggering Paradise trilogy, all three films of which were presented within MFF 2013, returns to the realm of intimate documentary with this stylized, disturbing, and darkly hilarious work. The basements of Austria open up to Seidl’s camera, revealing private lives built around such underground worlds as shooting ranges, taxidermy, BDSM, and Nazi memorabilia.

JUAJA_Lisandro-AlonsoJAUJA (Lisandro Alonso) Viggo Mortensen stars as a Danish engineer who’s travelled to Patagonia with his teenage daughter to work for the Argentine army. When she disappears, he ventures out in pursuit, embarking on a journey full of crises physical, emotional, and existential. Lisandro Alonso (MFF 2010’s Liverpool) works here not only with one of contemporary cinema’s greatest performers, but also a bold new visual approach.

KILLER_JOE_William-FriedkinKILLER JOE (William Friedkin, 2011) Legendary filmmaker John Waters has selected a favorite film to host within each Maryland Film Festival since its inaugural 1999 edition. This year’s choice is William Friedkin’s Texas-set neo-noir, with Matthew McConaughey as a cop who doubles as a hitman, and Emile Hirsch as a drug dealer who summons “Killer” Joe’s services—but quickly finds himself in over his head.

LIMBO_Anna-Sofie-HartmannLIMBO (Anna Sofie Hartmann) In a small port town in Denmark, high-school student Sara (Annika Nuka Mathiassen) grows increasingly fascinated by her young professor Karen (Sofía Nolsøe Mikkelsen), and her challenging ideas about gender, art, and life. This work of patient beauty screened at Rotterdam, San Sebastian, and SXSW, and will be hosted at MFF by guest curator Matt Porterfield (the director of Hamilton, Putty Hill, and I Used to Be Darker).

THE_REAPER_Zvonimir-JuricTHE REAPER (Zvonimir Jurić) From Croatia comes this tense and moody drama about a quiet loner haunted by his criminal past—and by other residents of his small town, who won’t let him forget. When he stops one night to come to the assistance of a woman stranded by the roadside, his evening takes a strange turn, launching three intertwined plot threads that recall Haneke in their grim outlook and narrative potency.

REBELS_OF_THE_NEON_GOD_Tsao-Ming-liangREBELS OF THE NEON GOD (Tsai Ming-liang, 1992) Over the last three decades, Tsai Ming-liang has produced one of the most impressive and distinct filmographies of our time, each starring unique presence Lee Kang-sheng. This is where it all began: Tsai’s first feature film, set amidst the streets, malls, and arcades of Taipei youth culture in the early 1990s. Newly restored, and enjoying its first release on the U.S. big screen.

SON_OF_THE_SHEIK_Performed-by-Alloy_OrchestraSON OF THE SHEIK (George Fitzmaurice, 1926) MFF favorites Alloy Orchestra have introduced new generations to the wonders of silent cinema with their innovative scores for films including The Lost World, Metropolis, and Man With a Movie Camera.  Now they return to MFF to accompany screen legend Rudolph Valentino’s final film, an adventure classic from the director of Mata Hari.

TIRED_MOONLIGHT_Britni-WestTIRED MOONLIGHT (Britni West) Gorgeously shot vignettes built around a mix of local non-professionals and seasoned performers (including Girls’ Alex Karpovsky) coalesce into a rich and poetic portrait of a pit-stop town in Montana situated amidst stunning natural beauty. Tired Moonlight premiered at Slamdance 2015, where it took home the Jury Award for Narrative Feature, and went on to screen within such prestigious festivals as New Directors/New Films and the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

VENICE_Kiki-AlvarezVENICE (Kiki Álvarez) It’s payday, and three female coworkers at a hair salon in Havana head out for a night on the town, their moonlit partying encountering unexpected twists and yielding surprising personal revelations. This exciting independent Cuban/Colombian co-production not only gives us rare access to an insider’s view of Havana, it also displays a refreshingly frank and empowered take on female sexuality.

Today’s new announcements join the 20 features already announced for MFF 2015, including the world premiere of Stephen Cone’s ensemble drama HENRY GAMBLE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY.

MFF Unveils Next 12 Titles of 2014 Film Lineup!

Maryland Film Festival continued unveiling the lineup for its 16th annual festival today, announcing 12 more feature films in addition to the 10 announced last week. Among the titles announced today are SXSW buzz films Fort Tilden, Evolution of a Criminal, and The Mend; the latest from Oscar-nominated documentarians Joe Berlinger and Marshall Curry; cutting-edge films made in Greece, South Korea, Taiwan, and Nepal; and the premiere of Maryland-made Lovecraftian horror film Call Girl of Cthulhu.

Lineup announcements will continue this week and next, including more than 20 additional emerging feature films, several revival screenings, and a favorite film selected and hosted by legendary filmmaker John Waters.

The 12 feature films announced today for MFF 2014 are:



CALL GIRL OF CTHULHU (Chris LaMartina) Baltimore-based D.I.Y. horror helmer Chris LaMartina’s latest tells the Lovecraft-inspired story of a virginal artist who falls in love with a call girl that turns out to be the chosen bride of the alien god Cthulhu.



EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL (Darius Clark Monroe) In this gripping blend of documentary, true-crime, and personal essay, a filmmaker confronts his past, dissecting the circumstances that led him to commit a bank robbery as a young man, and his journey since that act. Executive-produced by Spike Lee.



FORT TILDEN (Sarah-Violet Bliss, Charles Rogers) Winner of the grand jury award for narrative feature at SXSW 2014, this satire of Brooklyn hipsters making their way to a day at the beach takes on Samuel Beckett-esque barbs as ordering coffee and locking a bicycle become almost insoluble dilemmas.



THE HIP-HOP FELLOW (Kenneth Price) The points of intersection between hip-hop culture and academia are explored in this documentary following Grammy Award winning producer 9th Wonder’s tenure at Harvard University. Interviewees include Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Kendrick Lamar, Young Guru, Phonte, and DJ Premier.



MANAKAMANA (Stephanie Spray, Pacho Velez) This new feature from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab (Leviathan, Sweetgrass) offers immersive access to an ancient journey now taken in a modern cable car, as viewers ride along in real-time with pilgrims and tourists bound for Nepal’s Manakamana temple.



THE MEND (John Magary) Shades of Cassavetes’ Husbands and Mike Leigh color this revelatory mix of comedy and drama, as estranged brothers (Josh Lucas and Stephen Plunkett) reconnect at a moment of crisis and embrace increasingly wild and impulsive behavior.



MOEBIUS (Kim Ki-duk) South Korean maverick Kim Ki-duk returns with perhaps his most shocking and darkly humorous exploration yet of the connections between pleasure, penance, spirituality, and the human impulse for violence.



POINT AND SHOOT (Marshall Curry) When Baltimore native Matthew VanDyke traveled to Libya to join the rebels who were taking up arms against Gaddafi, his experiences became international news. His stranger-than-fiction story is told by the director of MFF documentaries Street Fight, Racing Dreams, and If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front.



SEPTEMBER (Penny Panayotopoulou) After a seemingly solitary woman’s beloved dog passes away, she becomes overwhelmed by her loneliness. In her search to ease the pain of losing her best friend, she unexpectedly connects with a sympathetic family that lives in her neighborhood. This expertly crafted and warmly human film from Greek director Penny Panayotopoulou signals her triumphant return after a decade-plus hiatus from filmmaking.



STRAY DOGS (Tsai Ming-liang) The first digitally shot feature from master director Tsai (whose films I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone and Walker screened within the festival) continues his unique 25-year collaboration with lead Lee Kang-sheng, this time situating him as the homeless guardian to two young children in Taipei.



WATER LIKE STONE (Zack Godshall, Michael Pasquier) A documentary portrait of Leeville, Louisiana, a fishing village among the fastest-disappearing wetlands in the United States—and the unforgettable characters who call it home.



WHITEY: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. JAMES J. BULGER (Joe Berlinger) This documentary dissects legend from fact in investigating the story of Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, uncovering a web of corruption in the process. From the director of Crude and co-director of Brother’s Keeper, Some Kind of Monster, and the Paradise Lost trilogy.

Stay tuned for more program lineup announcements coming soon! Current members are invited to join us for our Members Only Film Festival Preview on Thursday April 17th at The Walters Art Museum at 7:00pm. This event is free for Friends of the Festival; to join or renew your Friends of the Festival membership, click here. If you are a current member and would like to reserve a spot for two to our Festival Preview, email Angie at

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!

Maryland Film Festival Programming Team Heads to Toronto International Film Festival 2012!

It’s with great excitement that several members of the MFF programming team head up to Toronto today for TIFF 2012. Toronto is one of the world’s largest and best-curated festivals for world cinema, and attending TIFF is always a highlight of a film programmer’s year.

TIFF uses literally dozens of screens throughout the city, has filmmakers present for nearly each of the hundreds of films it screens, and owns and operates a brand-new year-round venue (the TIFF Lightbox). In these and so many other ways, Toronto epitomizes what a film festival can be, and what a city full of cinephiles can look like. From big-name titles like Paul Thomas Anderson’s THE MASTER and Terrence Malick’s TO THE WONDER, to new work by international masters like Susanne Bier and Tsai Ming-liang (not to mention the latest controversial provocation from Harmony Korine), TIFF has ‘em.

Toronto also happens to come at a great moment as far as Maryland Film Festival programming is concerned. As you may have noticed, we’ve just launched our 2013 Call For Entries, and TIFF represents another aspect of us launching our search for the next MFF’s crop of films. Many of the 50+ films we’ll see over the next two weeks don’t have U.S. distribution yet, and will still be emerging in the marketplace come MFF 2013. Indeed, if you look back at some of the standout foreign titles that have screened MFF over the last few years – DOGTOOTH, THE TURIN HORSE, SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY, ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA, THIS IS NOT A FILM, LIVERPOOL, NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT, and MY JOY, to name just a handful—a large number of them are films our programmers originally spotted at TIFF.

With that in mind, if you want to get our first reactions to some of the titles we may be bringing back to Baltimore over the next year (whether within MFF 2013 or some of our other year-round programming), be sure to follow us on Twitter, and keep reading this blog; we’ll be sharing some of our TIFF epiphanies with you over the next two weeks.

-Eric Allen Hatch, Director of Programming