Wednesday May 8 - Sunday May 12
15TH ANNUAL MARYLAND FILM FESTIVAL
The Charles Theater.
1711 N. Charles St.
"Station North" Baltimore.
Director of Programming Eric Allen Hatch’s Maryland Film Fest 2013 “Insider Picks”
Each year Maryland Film Festival rolls out roughly 50 feature films and 75 short films. As MFF’s director of programming, I love them all (and I really do!). But as a civilian who happens to have an inside track on what’s screening, I also love having a forum here in the Shank (thanks, Benn!) where I can give a wink and a nudge about films I’d be particularly psyched about as a festivalgoer.
A baker’s dozen is thirteen, right? Here’s a baker’s dozen films that are screening within MFF 2013—thirteen titles that I love, and that I also think will specifically grab Shank readers:
12 O’CLOCK BOYS
I don’t need to recommend this film, probably. The tickets are selling like hotcakes. It’s the most anticipated work on Baltimore street culture since The Wire. It also happens to be very, very good, and contains some of the most exhilarating shots of our city ever captured by a camera. Experience it here and now, before the rest of the world does.
BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO
I know there are a few people reading this who either A. fetishize analog recording equipment and/or B. are obsessed with Dario Argento, Mario Bava, Lucio Fulci, and the like. If so, THIS IS THE MOVIE FOR YOU. DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT NOT SEEING THIS FILM. For the rest of you: it’s an atmospheric head-trip about a nebbishy sound designer working on a '70s Italian horror movie, with a soundtrack by Broadcast.
BRING ME THE HEAD OF WTF SHORTS
The WTF Shorts program has become a signature event for our festival, and if I were going to recommend one (of our 10) shorts programs to Shank readers, it would be this one. This is where we place the year’s most fucked up, uncategorizable, insane short films. #Postmodem, The Apocalypse, and Alan Resnick’s tutorials are particularly and emphatically what-the-fucky.
If Robert Altman in his prime had shot an ensemble comedy about computer-chess nerds on a bank security camera, the result might be something like this endlessly inventive film. Wiley Wiggins (Dazed and Confused, Waking Life) stars, and will be in town to host our screenings. No chess knowledge needed to enjoy! One of the most original films I’ve seen in the last year! I have seen over 1,000 in movies in the last year!
A smart, incisive documentary about the rise and fall of Napster, giving The Social Network a run for its money in telling a thrilling story about an internet innovation that all too quickly takes on a global life of its own. Expertly directed by Alex Winter—yes, Bill S. Preston Esq. of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Lost Boys fame, not to mention the co-creator of the cult classic Freaked—who will be here to host our screenings.
HERE COMES THE DEVIL
A diabolical Mexican horror film that channels both Picnic at Hanging Rock and Village of the Damned in the service of something brand new. Subtle at first, and then… well, it’s one of the goriest and most deranged films we’ve shown at the festival.
I AM DIVINE
The definitive documentary about Divine! Made with the full participation of John Waters, Divine’s mom, and the surviving Dreamlanders! Run, don’t walk!
IF WE SHOUT LOUD ENOUGH
This is the Double Dagger documentary! Duh!
IF FELT LIKE LOVE
Do you like Catherine Breillat (Fat Girl, Romance)? This is by far the closest thing I’ve seen to an American director channeling that raw, unnervingly honest look at young female sexuality that she does so well. An important movie that people will be talking about for a long time!
Jem Cohen, perhaps best known for the Fugazi film Instrument, delivers a gentle, patient character study about a senior-aged Austrian museum guard. If this sounds like something you would like: you are correct!
Ulrich Seidl (of the devastating Import/Export) is back with his Paradise trilogy, each telling the story of a different member of a suburban Austrian family as they misbehave over their summer vacation. We’re screening all three, but each one can be enjoyed as a separate story, and this is my favorite. A middle-aged Austrian woman engages in sexual tourism in Kenya—disturbing subject matter handled almost as a Happiness-era Todd Solondz would’ve, with plenty of laughter intermingled with the bitter, awkward tears.
POST TENEBRAS LUX
If Andrei Tarkovsky were alive, Mexican, and under the age of 40, he would’ve made this art film “about” a family torn apart by class differences and animal cruelty. And if you go to the movies to be challenged, and are prepared to see a movie that you will either hate, love, or (most likely outcome) hate and then come to love: well, Post Tenebras Lux!
Now that David Lynch has all but stopped making movies in favor of Transcendental Meditation fundraisers with Paul and Ringo, Calvin Reeder makes the world’s best new David Lynch films (with a little bit of Repo Man tossed into the mix). The Rambler gets even closer to the lysergic energy of Reeder’s incredible 16mm short films than did his prior feature The Oregonian, and Dermot Mulroney gets major props for attaching himself to a film this unrelentingly deranged.
What else? Well, this is a watershed year for film in Baltimore, and in addition to those MD-centric movies mentioned above, we have an unprecedented cornucopia of other awesome Maryland-made features that hold their own with our international offerings, including:
-- Joe Tropea and Skizz Cyzyk’s Catonsville 9 documentary Hit & Stay
--Matt Bowden and Joe Compton’s New Orleans gospel documentary By and By
--Matt Porterfield’s Sundance-premiered, Mike Leigh-tinged I Used to Be Darker
--Zach Clark’s holiday-themed, John Waters-influenced White Reindeer
--and the omnibus horror film V/H/S/2, boasting a Frederick-made segment from Blair Witch Project’s Ed Sanchez.
We also have Alloy Orchestra (featuring Mission of Burma’s Roger Miller!) presenting 1925 silent classic The Lost World, John Waters presenting the naughtiest film in Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise trilogy, Paradise: Faith; an incredibly rigorous and surprisingly amusing documentary about rebuilding Ground Zero from the editor of Capturing the Friedmans called 16 Acres; the latest from David Gordon Green, the Paul Rudd-starring buddy movie Prince Avalanche; an exquisitely morose Turkish art-house film, Watchtower; Sophie Fiennes’ Žižek sequel, The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology; extremely strong Sundance dramas Pit Stop, This Is Martin Bonner, and A Teacher; and Bobcat Goldthwait’s found-footage Bigfoot extravaganza, Willow Creek (yes, he’ll be here)!
Whew! It’ll all be awesome, but there’s a cheat sheet of sorts for you. Feel free to tweet some questions to me at @ericallenhatch if you care to, or comment here, and either way I’ll do my best to get back to you. Thanks for reading!