Dara Bratt, director of the opening-night short "Flutter," told a little white lie during the post-screening Q&A.

The director of one of the evening's best short films, a visit with a shy, introverted butterfly collector ruminating on the perils and pleasures of his hobby while scouring a Vietnamese field for rare specimens, had a tougher time making the film than she let on.

Bratt told the nearly sold-out audience at MICA's Brown Center about the difficulties of filming in Southeast Asia. But afterward she admitted:

"My real biggest challenge was, I have this fear and phobia of bugs."

Fortunately, she (barely and temporarily) got over that fear, for along with "The Cub," director Riley Stearns' deadpan look at the advantages and disadvantages of leaving your daughter to be raised by wolves, "Flutter" proved a clear audience favorite.

Baltimore's sincerely weird

Bobcat Goldthwait may have a new job waiting for him, as a goodwill ambassador for the MFF and Baltimore film audiences.

The one-time stand-up comic made his third trip to the festival with a tantalizingly horrific take on the Bigfoot story called "Willow Creek." While the film was a change of pace from the much-loved comedies he's brought before, including last year's "God Bless America," he said he had no qualms about bringing it to Baltimore.

"You guys have become a lot like a family to me," he told Saturday night's audience, adding: "The weirdness here, it's in the water or something. It's just so sincere."

A Brute Force renaissance

Brute Force came to the Maryland Film Festival this year. How cool is that?

We mean, of course, the singer infamous for his banned 1969 single "The King of Fuh," a favorite of Beatle George Harrison that was one of the first singles released on the group's Apple Records label.

Brute, who once was a member of the Tokens ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight"), has dwelt largely in undeserved obscurity. But thanks to Ben Steinbauer's 15-minute documentary, "Brute Force," which played the MFF Friday afternoon, the man born Stephen Friedland is undergoing something of a renaissance.

Slash and film

The local premiere of Baltimore native Matt Porterfield's "I Used to be Darker," his third feature, turned into something of a "True Confessions" moment.

During the Q&A, Porterfield addressed one especially destructive scene. In it, the film's young protagonist, played by Deragh Campbell, vents her frustrations with a boyfriend's fecklessness by attacking some wall hangings in his parents' Ocean City condominium with a pair of scissors.

Porterfield told the audience about going to a prom, and after realizing he wouldn't be getting anywhere with his date, exacting a similar revenge.

"I got to slash the paintings in her parents' condo in Ocean City, Md.," he said. "I'm not saying I'm proud of it, but it worked."

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