Films on ’70s rock ‘n’ roll chronicler Creem magazine, iron-willed CBS newsman Mike Wallace and the world of “creative dog grooming” are among the first 10 documentary features announced for May’s 21st Maryland Film Festival.
Set for May 8-12 in the Station North Arts District, Baltimore’s annual cinematic feast will include more than 40 feature-length films, plus shorts, panel discussions and other events. Most films will be shown at the Niarchos Foundation Parkway, 5 W. North Ave. Other venues are the Maryland Institute College of Art Lazarus Center, 131 W. North Ave.; the MICA Gateway Building, 1601 W. Mount Royal Ave.; and MICA Brown Center, 1301 W. Mount Royal Ave.
The 10 documentaries, along with descriptions provided by the MdFF, are:
American Factory (directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, 2019, U.S.)
"In 2014, a Chinese billionaire opened a Fuyao factory in a shuttered General Motors plant in Dayton, Ohio. For thousands of locals, the arrival of this multinational car-glass manufacturer meant regaining their jobs—and dignity—after the recession left them high and dry. Sundance selection 'American Factory' takes us inside the facility to observe what happens when workers from profoundly different cultures collide."
Boy Howdy! The Story of Creem Magazine(director Scott Crawford, 2019, U.S.)
“Capturing the messy upheaval of the '70s just as rock was re-inventing itself, the film explores Creem Magazine's humble beginnings in post-riot Detroit, follows its upward trajectory from underground paper to national powerhouse, then bears witness to its imminent demise following the tragic and untimely deaths of its visionary publisher, Barry Kramer, and its most famous alum and genius clown prince, Lester Bangs, a year later.”
“In 1961, United Nations secretary-general Dag Hammarskjöld’s plane mysteriously crashed, leaving no survivors. It’s understood that because Hammarskjöld was, at the time, advocating for Congo’s independence, the ‘crash’ was an assassination. With the case still unsolved fifty-plus years later, Danish journalist, filmmaker, and provocateur Mads Brügger leads viewers down a wild investigative rabbit hole to unearth the truth. Scores of false starts, dead ends and elusive interviews later, Brügger begins to uncover a critical secret that could send shockwaves around the world.”
Decade of Fire(directors Gretchen Hildebran and Vivian Vazquez, 2019, U.S.)
“In the 1970s, the Bronx was on fire. Left unprotected by the city government, nearly a half-million people were displaced as their close-knit, multi-ethnic neighborhood burned, reducing the community to rubble. While insidious government policies caused the devastation, Black and Latino residents bore the blame. In this story of hope and resistance, Bronx native Vivian Vazquez exposes the truth about the borough’s sordid history and reveals how her embattled and maligned community chose to resist, remain and rebuild."
"When the Taliban puts a bounty on Afghan director Hassan Fazili’s head, he is forced to flee with his wife and two young daughters. Capturing their uncertain journey, Fazili shows both the danger and desperation of their multi-year odyssey and the tremendous love shared between them."
Mike Wallace Is Here (director Avi Belkin, 2019, U.S.)
"An unflinching look at the legendary reporter, who interrogated the 20th century’s biggest figures in his over fifty years on air, and his aggressive reporting style and showmanship that redefined what America came to expect from broadcasters. Unearthing decades of never-before-seen footage from the ‘60 Minutes’ vault, the film explores what drove and plagued Wallace, whose storied career was entwined with the evolution of journalism itself."
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (director Stanley Nelson, 2019, U.S.)
“Miles Davis: Horn player, bandleader, innovator. Elegant, intellectual, vain. Callous, conflicted, controversial. Magnificent, mercurial. Genius. The very embodiment of cool. The man with a sound so beautiful it could break your heart. The central theme of Miles Davis's life was his restless determination to break boundaries and live life on his own terms. It made him a star—it also made him incredibly difficult to live with, for the people who loved him most. Featuring never-before-seen archival footage, studio outtakes, and rare photos, the film tells the story of a truly singular talent and unpacks the man behind the horn.”
Other Music (directors Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller, 2019, U.S.)
“In the summer of 2016, New York City lost a beloved and influential hub of independent music culture. Other Music was THE place where a generation of New Yorkers at the dawn of the Internet age went to discover groundbreaking music. Featuring Vampire Weekend, Animal Collective, Interpol and more, the film celebrates what spaces like these have meant to people in the past — and explores how their spirit can live on in an increasingly digital world.”
Pahokee(directors Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas, 2019, U.S.)
"Four high-school students embark on their senior year in Pahokee, a small Florida town on the shores of Lake Okeechobee. The teens navigate all of the sometimes exciting, sometimes heartbreaking rite-of-passage rituals as they make profound decisions about their futures. As they do, the pressure of Pahokee's economic hardships weighs heavily on their shoulders — the community has placed all hopes for opportunity on them, the next generation."
Well Groomed (Director Rebecca Stern, 2019, U.S.)
"Competitive creative dog grooming is the most colorful competition in America. Follow four champion groomers and their gorgeous, vibrant dogs through a year in the life on the technicolor competition circuit, playfully exploring their creative process. From South Carolina to California, New York to Arkansas, these women are revolutionizing the age old question - what is art?"