The think pieces are flying regarding the future of film. Filmmakers and other cinephiles are shaking their heads about the fate of actual film stock—the digital revolution has finally overtaken 35 mm, bringing with it affordability and versatility and the prospect for easier distribution, but whisking away that almost alchemical magic of capturing light on chemical-coated celluloid and later projecting light through it. Meanwhile, the forces that forever altered the music business in the '00s are starting to have the same game-changing effects on the movie biz, leaving the old system of blockbusters, wily indies, theatrical distribution, and back-end home-video profits gasping and scrambling to adapt. Depending on which pieces you read, the prognosis isn't often rosy.
And yet, watch a few dozen hours of new films, as those of us who've worked on City Paper's annual independent guide to the Maryland Film Festival have, and you might come away more sanguine. There are still great stories to be told, and filmmakers are finding ways to tell them, despite the hurdles and the Chicken Little worries. And as the 14th annual MFF takes over a chunk of Station North this weekend, you need only spend a few hours in the various theaters or hobnobbing with the filmmakers and film fans that help make it what it is to realize that whatever the concerns are about the nature of the supply, the demand for cinema isn't going anywhere, and, as usual, MFF presents one of the local cinephile's best options to drink deep.
City Paper's Film Fest Frenzy (which is not affiliated with the Maryland Film Festival) was written by Andrea Appleton, Laura Dattaro, Michael Byrne, Edward Ericson Jr., Lee Gardner, Erin Gleeson, Joe MacLeod, and Joe Tropea. Alex Fine provided the cover illustration. And as always, we thank Jed Dietz, Eric Allen Hatch, Scott Braid, and all the other hard-working staffers and volunteers who make the Maryland Film Festival possible.
Unbylined blurbs indicate a movie not screened before press time. An asterisk by the title indicates a must-see favorite recommended by the CP Film Fest Frenzy review crew.