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Thursday, April 27, 2017

19th Annual MD Film Festival Kicks Off

Written by  Frankie Kujawa
Think ‘real cat,’ not MGM Think ‘real cat,’ not MGM

The 19th Annual Maryland Film Festival will take place from Wednesday, May 3rd to Sunday, May 7th in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. Coinciding with the opening of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theatre (SNF Parkway), festival events are all within walkable distances around the theatre, at venues including MICA’s Brown Center, Gateway Building, and Lazarus Studio Center.

Among the recently released 11 documentaries to be featured, two films come from the creative minds of local Baltimore filmmakers. Theo Anthony’s Rat Film is a feature-length documentary that uses a rat, as well as the humans they interact with, to explore the history of Baltimore. Director Anthony is also an alumnus of both the 2015 and 2016 MdFF for his respective short films “Chop My Money” and “Peace in the Absence of War.”

Ramona S. Diaz, another Baltimore-based filmmaker, will bring audiences her documentary Motherland. Having premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival (2017) the film delves into the world’s busiest maternity ward, located in the Philippines. Diaz is also a past alumnus of the MdFF for her work on 2004’s “Imelda” and 2011’s “The Learning.”

Eliza Hittman’s Sundance award-winning film “Beach Rats” will also be making its Baltimore debut at the MdFF. Having debuted at this year’s 2017 Sundance festival, the director has garnered much praise for her captivating character study of Frankie, an aimless teenager trying to escape his summer of misery. Dealing with his dying father and overbearing mother, Frankie splits his time by carousing with his trouble-maker friends and flirting with older men online. As his online chatting life intensifies, Frankie finally starts hooking up with guys while at the same time entering into a relationship with a young woman. Frankie’s struggles and decisions ultimately leave him spiraling towards an ending that will have consequences for all involved. English actor Harris Dickinson plays Frankie with depth that is winning him plenty of buzz for his debut film.

As excitement for the upcoming Maryland Film Festival begins to permeate throughout Baltimore, many filmgoers are thrilled in the fact that the festival finally has a permanent home in the SNF Parkway Theatre. “We have expanded into year-round movie options for people,” explained Jed Dietz, founding director of the festival. “Now we have a way to fill this huge gap that we’ve seen in the moviegoing options in Baltimore. We can now give small distributers and filmmakers who don’t get distribution a way to show their movie in one more market. This movement that is happening – art house conversion – is something now which we are a part of. There are 200-plus movie theaters around the country that are independent movie theaters showing emerging independent film and now we’ll have that in Baltimore.”

For more information on the Maryland Film Festival visit MDFilmFest.com.

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