Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Maryland Film Festival

This year was the 11th year for the festival, and it seems to get bigger and better every year. And yet many people are still unaware that Maryland hosts a film festival. For those of you that haven't been but love film, do yourself a favor next year and attend a few screenings.

What's great about the festival is that it's all about film appreciation, not commerce. Most of the large festivals, like Sundance, Cannes, Tribeca, etc. are more about procuring distribution deals for filmmakers. They're an orgy of film capitalism. Not to say that they don't have great screenings, but they aren't designed for the everyman. The Maryland Film Festival is all about us, lovers of cinema. As a result you get a great mix of film material. Narrative shorts, animated shorts, avant-garde shorts, feature length indie comedies and dramas, documentaries, and even a few big budget hollywood flicks. Last night we saw, among a few screenings of short films, "World's Greatest Dad" a new dark comedy written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait and starring Robin Williams. Great movie!

What I love about MFF is that fact that everyone screening their films at the festival do it out of the love of the craft. Sure they come for exposure, but they're not going to land a big distribution deal from a screening at the Charles. But they are going to get a huge, warm response from a film-centric crowd more concerned with viewing good cinema instead of selling good cinema. Bobcat made the comment last night (he came to introduce the film and for a Q&A afterwards) that he's cried twice at screenings of the film. The first was when Robin watched the film and started crying. The second was when he saw the reaction from the MFF crowd. He said that he had never felt so much gratitude for an audience at any screening ever. I think that says so much for the festival. It's all about the love of the art.

If you come and can't afford a lot of screenings, at least do the ticket three pack. Tickets are normally ten dollars, but you can get a three-pack for 20, so you essentially get a free screening. If you love movies you'll love MFF.

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