Officials with the Maryland Film Festival have announced 10 more works that will be screened during the annual celebration of all things cinematic, set for May 6-10 in the Station North Arts District.
The 10 films, a mix of narrative features and documentaries that includes works by MFF veterans Bobcat Goldthwaite, Todd Rohal and Alex Winter, joins an initial list of 10 films that was announced last week. The festival's 17th edition will include about 50 feature films and 12 short films, according to a press release.
Lineup announcements will come over the next two weeks (for more information, go to mdfilmfest.com).
Here are the 10 films announced this week:
THE AMINA PROFILE (Sophie Deraspe) Two women, Sandra in Montreal and Amina in Syria, meet online, and begin a flirtatious relationship that quickly turns serious. When Amina begins to blog as “A Gay Girl in Damascus,” she garners international attention as an outspoken representative of a marginalized community. Then Sandra hears that Amina has been kidnapped—and, in this fascinating documentary fueled by mystery, politics, and sexuality, she must examine how much about Amina she truly knows.
BEATS OF THE ANTONOV (Hajooj Kuka) War reporter and documentary filmmaker Hajooj Kuka takes viewers into the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountain regions of Sudan, where we meet displaced people who live under the constant threat of bombardment from the military. But defying familiar victim narratives, Kuka’s camera finds resilient communities that summon strength and positivity from music, laughter, and a determination to maintain their culture against any odds.
CALL ME LUCKY (Bobcat Goldthwait) Since the 1980s, Barry Crimmins has established himself as a comedian’s comedian, armed with a rapid-fire technique and a scathing political perspective aimed at shocking American audiences out of their complacency — even as he never quite gets the respect he deserves. Peers like Margaret Cho and Marc Maron join documentarian Bobcat Goldthwait in paying tribute to Crimmins’ many contributions to the comedy community and political activism over the decades.
CHRISTMAS, AGAIN (Charles Poekel) Noel (Kentucker Audley) sells Christmas trees off a lot in New York, living a quiet and solitary life in the camper that anchors the site. As Christmas nears, a mysterious woman lands in Noel’s life, and tries to find a way into the closed-off, emotionally blocked world he’s constructed. Beautiful Super 16mm cinematography and unforgettable performances from Audley and Hannah Gross yield a moving character study of quiet, gentle humanism.
DEEP WEB (Alex Winter) With Downloaded (MFF 2013), Alex Winter established himself as an expert at illuminating complex issues at the intersection of the internet and legality—and giving audiences intimate access to the personalities at the center of his story. Deep Web excitingly confirms that status, turning its lens on the online black market Silk Road, and digging deep into the still-unfolding story of Ross Ulbricht, the man accused of being the site’s creator and moderator, “Dread Pirate Roberts.”
GOD BLESS THE CHILD (Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck) Four brothers spend a day on their own in Davis, California, with their thirteen year-old sister forced to look after them as best she can in the absence of their troubled and unreliable mother. This visually stunning experimental drama, which premiered at SXSW, turns an unflinching eye on the behavior of children in the absence of adults, with results at turns hilarious, awkward, poignant, and unnerving.
PROPHET’S PREY (Amy Berg) The director of Deliver Us From Evil and West of Memphis takes us deep into another explosive story, that of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Exploring allegations of sexual abuse, family expulsions, forced marriages, and other horrors, this Sundance-premiered documentary paints an unforgettable portrait of conformity, fear, and oppression.
TWO SHOTS FIRED (Martín Rejtman) Veteran Argentine filmmaker Martin Rejtman brings his unique deadpan sensibility to the story of a sixteen-year-old who finds a gun in his house. He shoots himself out of boredom—but, after a near-miss with death, finds that the major change in his life is an annoying whistle in his chest, sabotaging the music he makes with an amateur recorder quartet. A disloyal dog, a strange vacation, and a bizarre cast of characters add up to a quietly anarchic comedy that channels Aki Kaurismäki and Roy Andersson’s A Swedish Love Story as it refuses to play by conventional narrative rules.
UNCLE KENT 2 (Todd Rohal) Kent Osborne, the mild-mannered animator whose mundane daily routines and love life fueled Joe Swanberg’s Uncle Kent, is desperate to make a sequel—an idea that excites precisely no one else. But when Swanberg gives Osborne his blessing to take the idea elsewhere, things takes a decidedly warped turn, as MFF favorite Todd Rohal takes over at the helm, steering the film deep into the realm of psychotronic dark comedy.
WESTERN (Bill and Turner Ross) In the neighboring towns of Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Mexico, a rugged cattleman and a populist mayor navigate changing times as the specters of cartel violence and xenophobia threaten harmonious cultural and economic exchanges between the U.S. and Mexico. Marked by muggy days and thunderous nights, this evocative and immersive documentary from the directors of 45365 and Tchoupitoulas delivers a thrilling mix of fascinating characters, riveting narrative, and extraordinary sensory detail.
The initial list, released last week, included:
"THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION" (Stanley Nelson): Master documentarian Stanley Nelson has demonstrated an unparalleled ability to bring history to life with films such as "Freedom Summer"; "The Murder of Emmett Till"; and "Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple." Here he turns his lens on the revolutionary Black Panther Party and the various cultural forces that worked to support or destroy the group, creating an essential portrait of a singular radical moment in the American experience.
"BREAKING A MONSTER" (Luke Meyer): Viral-video sensation Unlocking the Truth, a teenage metal band from Brooklyn, navigate the bizarre current state of the record industry in this fascinating, fist-pumping, and often hilarious documentary. Fresh from its premiere at SXSW, this exceptional rock doc follows the band as they sign a major-label record deal and are suddenly caught up in an adult-driven world of contracts, tours, interviews, and branding. From Luke Meyer, co-director of MFF 2006 hit "Darkon."
"FUNNY BUNNY" (Alison Bagnall): The writer/director of "The Dish & the Spoon" returns with this offbeat, infectious mix of comedy and drama. Kentucker Audley stars as an obesity-awareness canvasser who strikes up a friendship with a wealthy, emancipated 19-year-old named Titty (Olly Alexander) and the animal-rights-activist object of Titty's desire, Ginger (Joslyn Jensen). Co-starring Josephine Decker, Louis Cancelmi, and Anna Margaret Hollyman.
"HENRY GAMBLE'S BIRTHDAY PARTY" (Stephen Cone): A pool party celebrating the seventeenth birthday of Henry Gamble (Cole Doman), the son of a megachurch preacher (Pat Healy), sets the stage for this expertly observed ensemble drama. As sunny skies fade into moonlight, director Stephen Cone ("The Wise Kids," "Black Box") offers a subtle and insightful portrait of a community full of pressures and secrets —exploring identity, sexuality, and organized religion in the process. World premiere.
"SAILING A SINKING SEA" (Olivia Wyatt): This experimental documentary, which premiered at SXSW, looks at the traditional lifestyle of the Moken people, a seafaring community of Burma and Thailand. Olivia Wyatt's gorgeous and immersive film transports viewers deep into the turquoise sea and onto thirteen different islands, giving us intimate access to a culture where shamans, mermaids, and sea gods collide with present-day practices. Executive-produced by Will Oldham.
"STINKING HEAVEN" (Nathan Silver): This ultra-dark comedy looks at a communal home for sober living in 1990s suburban New Jersey, which spirals into dysfunctional decline when an outsider arrives on the scene. Director Nathan Silver's film boasts an uncompromising visual aesthetic that goes against the grain of contemporary indie filmmaking — not to mention a fantastic cast that includes Deragh Campbell, Hannah Gross, Keith Poulson, and Eleonore Hendricks.
"TAB HUNTER CONFIDENTIAL" (Jeffrey Schwarz): Top-notch documentary biographer Jeffrey Schwarz has captivated MFF audiences with definitive looks at iconic personalities William Castle, Vito Russo, and Divine. Now he delivers the warm and intimate story of 1950s Hollywood heartthrob Tab Hunter, who simultaneously balanced a stratospheric career on the silver screen with a secret life as a gay man. From his rise to stardom to his reinvention as a cult-film star with John Waters—and a number of fascinating surprises — it's all here.
"UNEXPECTED" (Kris Swanberg): High-school science teacher Samantha (Cobie Smulders), already dealing with stress and uncertainty as her low-income school prepares to close, finds out she's pregnant. When she discovers her favorite student Jasmine (Gail Bean) is also with child, the two form a tight and unconventional bond. From Kris Swanberg (whose earlier features Empire Builder and It was great, but I was ready to come home. both screened within MFF) comes this refreshing character study that mines honest emotions and the quiet battlefields of love and friendship for real beauty and insight.
"WELCOME TO LEITH" (Michael Beach Nichols, Christopher K. Walker): This edge-of-your-seat documentary follows the arrival of notorious white supremacist Craig Cobb to a small town in North Dakota, where he promptly buys up land for like-minded collaborators and disrupts town council meetings, leading to fears that he plans a neo-Nazi takeover. As his behavior escalates further into the outrageous and threatens to get violent, a once-placid community must decide how to react.
"A WONDERFUL CLOUD" (Eugene Kotlyarenko): When his ex-girlfriend visits him in Los Angeles to resolve some lingering business entanglements, Eugene seeks to revisit old feelings, and introduces her to an LA populated by a wild cast of artists, scenesters, and eccentrics. Variety called this gleefully anarchic romantic comedy "a raucous, wholly improvised 21st-century Annie Hall." Starring director Kotlyarenko (whose "0s & 1s" had its world premiere at MFF 2010) and Kate Lyn Sheil ("Sun Don't Shine," "House of Cards").