Thursday May 3 - Sunday May 6
14TH ANNUAL MARYLAND FILM FESTIVAL
The Charles Theater.
1711 N. Charles St.
"Station North" Baltimore.
Director of Programming Eric Allen Hatch’s Maryland Film Fest 2012 “Insider Picks”
Hi! Maryland Film Fest 2012 takes place May 3-6; Friday through Sunday we’ve got movies running all day and late into the night on 7 screens. That adds up to us rolling out over 100 films in 4 days, so I know it’s tough to make choices. Here’s a cheat sheet! Benn and the Shank are kind enough to invite us to us share these “insider picks” each year. I’m psyched about our line-up from start to finish, but the below is an alphabetical sampling of films I’d be likely to recommend to friends and/or Shank readers, speaking as one film lover who happens to have a lot of inside info about the fest’s offerings.
Are you one of the many who flipped the fuck out for MFF 2010’s dark comedy DOGTOOTH? Add this one to your queue right now. DOGTOOTH director Yorgos Lanthimos co-stars here, and everyone brings their A-game to this bizarre film about a socially dissociated woman. More evidence that something new is happening in Greek film right now (and/or their water supply).
If you love Tim and Eric, not to mention Neil Hamburger (who co-stars here, in his civvies), see this. But you should know that, title and cast aside, this film is largely a transgressive provocation, as similar to Lars von Trier’s THE IDIOTS as it is TIM AND ERIC'S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE.
Our closing-night film is Todd Solondz’s latest (!). The cast includes Selma Blair, Mia Farrow, and Christopher Walken; Solondz will be there to host; and it’s far and away his best film since Happiness and Welcome to the Dollhouse. If you’ve never seen Todd Solondz do public speaking, you really need to treat yourself right. Ticket-holders to this one also get into the closing-night party, btw.
The Comedy isn’t, strictly speaking, a comedy. Gayby is—and it’s as much about straights looking for love as it is an insider’s look at the pleasures and pitfalls of modern gay culture. If the rest of my list sounds a little too dark to you, go Gayby all the way!
This beautiful, brilliant, and somehow not (visually) graphic film is half-doc, half-fiction, and 100% about Jeffrey Dahmer. In addition to the director, we’ll have the interrogator who got Dahmer’s confession at our screenings. For many of you sick puppies, I suspect, enough said.
The Zellner Brothers, who delivered an enduring MFF-audience favorite with 2008’s Goliath, return with this offbeat, sumptuous film that’s like a mash-up between The Catechism Cataclysm and (the good parts of ) Tree of Life.
THE PATRON SAINTS
Man, this documentary about nursing-home residents blew me away. This is no exposé—more a portrait of human minds slipping away, unwilling or unable to censor, and the incredible things that come out of their mouths. Fans of Duplex Planet and Grey Gardens take note!
Here’s the quietest film on my list, a beautifully shot piece about a laid-off middle-school teacher who embarks on a hike of self-discovery along a Kentucky trail, meeting some crazy characters along the way. Notes of Kelly Reichardt and Jim Jarmusch linger luxuriantly.
A paralyzed Bogota man, upset that his government benefits aren’t forthcoming, methodically plots a drastic action. Amazingly, not only is this film based on a true story, but also the real-life protagonist plays himself (as do many of his friends and relatives). It’s a brave performance on many levels, especially the film’s frank depiction of Porfirio’s bodily functions and sex life.
Rank this Source Family doc alongside Jonestown as the greatest films about utopian communes/families. Leader Father Yod was a man of violence who turned vegetarian restaurateur and hippie guru in L.A.’s early '70s psychedelic era. His family members formed the, uh, cult-classic band Ya Ho Wha 13. Father Yod was on top of the world--and then, something utterly unexpected happened.
SUN DON’T SHINE
A sweaty, grimy, swampy underground thriller, Florida-set and 16mm-shot. If you share my fascination with '60s and '70s renegade filmmaking, well… this one’s for us. Director Amy Seimetz cites inspirations like A Woman Under the Influence and Two-Lane Blacktop, and it shows.
A truly touching and thoughtful documentary about Vito Russo, who was a founder of ACT UP and the author of The Celluloid Closet. The director’s currently working on a Divine documentary!
From Iceland comes this dark, beautiful story about a paternalistic retiree losing the respect of his adult children when his wife’s health fails. Fans of Mike Leigh and the Dardenne Bros. take note!
Atomic Books’ BFF John Waters annual MFF selection is Barbara Loden’s ragged, jagged slice of 1970s renegade filmmaking, Wanda. Screening from a beautifully restored 35mm print!
WILD IN THE STREETS
Since medieval times, hundreds of people in the small UK town of Ashbourne have played a game—first with a virgin’s head, now in compromised form with merely a ball. Anything goes for days, as massive swarms of people huddle the ball to goals miles away. Meanwhile, the game fights for survival as suburban homogenization creeps into the area. Very cool documentary!
Two epic works by foreign-film masters for us art-house nerds: Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA and Hungary’s THE TURIN HORSE. The latter is Bela Tarr’s self-declared final film, and unlikely to come back to big screens in Baltimore, so if you’re a fan of his, don’t miss this one.
OH! Bobcat Goldthwait’s bringing his angry new GOD BLESS AMERICA (akin to both Idiocracy and Natural Born Killers). And Atomic Books headz: Jeffrey Brown co-wrote the rom-com Save the Date!
We’ve also got 9 jam-packed shorts programs. The Dark Comedy, Narrative, and The Passion of the WTF Shorts are especially to my taste. Tiny revelations like Bad Penny, The Black Balloon, Beau, Crown, Wilbert & Vern, and The Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke make life as a film programmer rewarding.
Whew! Thanks to everybody who read this! I hope you found some films to fall in love with. – Best, Eric