The Film Lovers in Carroll County are starting off the new year with something they've never tried before, a documentary series. On Fridays, Jan. 8, 15 and 22, at the Carroll Arts Center, FLICC will host screenings of three recent documentaries: "I Am Divine," "The Wrecking Crew" and "SOMM."
"I Am Divine" covers the life of John Waters' collaborator Harris Glenn Milstead, better known as Divine. The film takes audiences from Divine's start on the streets of Baltimore to stardom with roles in "Pink Flamingos" and "Hairspray."
"The Wrecking Crew" tells the story of a band that performed backing tracks for the Beach Boys, Elvis, Sinatra and other legendary musicians.
Finally, "SOMM" follows the path of four sommeliers — wine stewards — as they study around the world in order to pass the Master Sommelier exam, an international test to ensure Master Sommeliers have the most refined palates. The Times caught up with Frank Baylor of FLICC to discuss the documentary series.
Q: You're starting off the year with a trio of documentaries, could you talk a little bit about how this series came about?
A: We've got a busy schedule; it's the busiest January we've ever done. We had been talking about doing a documentary series for a long time, maybe a couple of years, now, but never got it off the ground. People often tell Sandy [Oxx, executive director of the Carroll County Arts Council] and the staff and members of FLICC that they love documentaries and wish we would show them more often. We've had mixed results in the past, though. There's generally not very good attendance. When we've shown documentaries in the past, we've had about 30 to 35 people show up, but those that showed up almost all always stay for the Q-and-A afterwards. So it all depends on how you gauge a success. These people are passionate about it.
Q: Why did you decide to open the year with the documentary series?
A: We talked it over at our FLICC meetings and decided we'd better just pull the trigger and vote for it. Hopefully we get a good response. There's a mixture of subjects. I think they're all very interesting, and they're all highly thought of critically. We debated about when to have the series. We originally thought Sunday afternoons in winter, but realized that may conflict with sports events. The best time of year to do this is in the winter, as long as the weather holds out. People are looking for stuff to do, especially after the holidays.
Q: What have you thought of each of the three films?
A: I personally have not seen any of the documentaries, but I'm looking forward to them. Many in the group have seen at least a couple of them. One of our prime directives is we're not showing a movie unless several members have seen and vouched for them. I'm going to be just like the rest of the audience out there, anxiously waiting to see what I think. I've read the critics' takes on them, and know they're very well thought of. I'm going to be just like the audience when the lights go down.
Q: Could you talk a little bit about each of the films?
A: Well, "I Am Divine" is about a relatively local figure. Critics and audiences seem to love it, and I think it's going to be a good start to the series. Richard [Soisson of FLICC] has been raving about "The Wrecking Crew" ever since they saw it. In March, we're going to have a follow-up, where we are showing the biopic ["Love and Mercy"] about Brian Wilson that's been highly acclaimed. Actors are getting a lot of talk about Oscar nominations. With "SOMM," that's being co-sponsored by Bernie Vogel, co-owner of Jeannie Bird Bakery. He's had a career of wine sales. He's going give us a great Q-and-A after the film. He's seen it several times and is really gung ho about it. When we told him we were thinking of this documentary series and this film was on the short list, he was all over it.
Q: What is it about documentaries that appeals to you?
A: I've always liked documentaries. I've always watched "Nova" and other documentaries on TV, like "Frontline" and "The American Masters" biographies. I enjoy them because I think they can be very educational. Sometimes you're stunned to find out things that you maybe never knew before. Sometimes it's just the presentation that's astonishing. It's a unique artform.
If You Go
What: "I Am Divine"
Carroll County Breaking News
When: 1 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8
What: "The Wrecking Crew"
When: 1 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15
When: 1 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22
Cost: $6 adults, $5 CCAC members, children 18 and younger and seniors 60 and older
For more information: Visit www.carrollartscenter.org or call 410-848-7272