Annapolis Film Festival building on local and family bonds
By By Nayana Davis and The Baltimore Sun
Mar 24, 2014 at 11:34 AM
For documentary filmmakers and Annapolis residents Patti White and Lee Anderson, establishing a film festival in their hometown wasn't a labor of love. It was a no-brainer.
White and Anderson, business partners since 1990 when they founded an Annapolis-based production company now known as Filmsters, have traveled the film-festival circuit across America and always believed Maryland's capital was a natural for an industry "close-up."
"We've been to festivals in Colorado Springs — they have mountains, we have water — but the towns are not much different," White said. "I thought that our community could really benefit from this."
White and Anderson are creative directors of the nonprofit Annapolis Film Festival, which made its debut in 2013 with a mission to "encourage the development of all aspects of the creative arts in and around Annapolis through the cinema experience. We seek independent films, features, documentaries and shorts that will inspire, enlighten and entertain all audiences on a variety of topics, promoting Annapolis as a cultural arts center."
In that inaugural outing, the festival drew more than 2,500 attendees.
This coming weekend, the organization will host the second annual Annapolis Film Festival, a four-day event running March 27-30 and featuring more than 70 film screenings at locations around the city, including Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Compass Rose Theater, O'Callaghan's Hotel and St. Anne's Parish House.
In addition to films, the festival will include panel discussions led by industry insiders, including "Making Your Movie in Maryland," with panelists including the casting agent of the TV show "House of Cards" on Friday, March 28 at 10:30 p.m. at O'Callaghan's Hotel; and a question-and-answer session with David Ward, director and Oscar-winning screen writer for "The Sting," on Saturday, March 29 at 5 p.m. at Maryland Hall.
The festival will also have a segment dedicated to the work of African-American storytellers, 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 28 at Maryland Hall; and a number of sessions for those interested in learning about filmmaking.
For the full lineup of panels and seminars, go to annapolisfilmfestival.net/film-festival/panels.
"The first [festival] last year was very successful, very popular," said White, who worked for more than 30 years as a producer, director and writer, including production of "Extreme Makeover" for ABC and spending 15 years with CBS News in New York. "We knew we needed to come in with a wallop, and people responded to it."
White and Anderson see the festival as a means to celebrate cinema in Maryland and Annapolis, but this year's edition is special for White. Opening night, Thursday, March 27, will include a screening of the feature film "Jamesy Boy," produced and directed by White's sons — Trevor and Tim White.
The movie, which stars Mary-Louise Parker, Ving Rhames, James Woods and Spencer Lofranco, tells the tale of a troubled young man looking for redemption. It will be shown at 7 p.m. at Maryland Hall.
The movie was filmed in Maryland and was inspired in part by Patti White and Lee Anderson's own award-winning documentary, "If I Could." That film, made in 2001, portrays the lives of Denver residents Tracy Marasco and her son James Burns, who were both juvenile delinquents treated at VisionQuest, an alternative to jail program that serves youth across the country.
"We had to absorb all the pain, helplessness and despair the family had to endure," recalled Anderson, who worked for years as a news and commercial producer for ABC and CBS affiliates in Maryland. "But, as journalists, we couldn't interfere. Patti and I would go back to our hotel at night and cry."
"If I Could" will be shown 10 a.m. Saturday, March 29, at Maryland Hall.
In addition to her sons' work, Patti White noted there's another connection to the Filmsters' 2001 documentary that will make an appearance at the festival: "Revolving Doors," a short film about the cycles of incarceration faced by young men, was made by James Burns — the subject of "If I Could" who is now a 27-year-old aspiring artist. "Revolving Doors" will screen at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 29 at Maryland Hall with another documentary film, "Lost for Life."
Trevor White, a 28-year-old filmmaker now living in Los Angeles, is thrilled that "Jamesy Boy," will be shown in his hometown.
"It's incredible to share this with all my neighbors and close friends," he said.
He and his brother grew up in Annapolis and attended the Key School. Their film was shot in and around Baltimore in 2012, and in an article in The Baltimore Sun that year, "Jamesy Boy" actor Woods described the brothers as "a wonderful team."
"I was amazed this was their first feature," Woods said in the Sun story. "Talent is a gift from God. Good breeding is from good parenting. These guys had both."