The annual Town of Bel Air Film Festival is not a venue for big-budget Hollywood blockbusters, but viewers are treated to educational and uplifting films, which was the case with Friday night's showing of the documentary "Landfill Harmonic."
"I can guarantee you, no matter what the topic is, you are going to go away saying, 'I'm so glad I came here, I learned something,' and you'll go and tell what you learned to somebody else," Bel Air Mayor Susan Burdette said during her introductory remarks to about 125 people gathered at the Bel Air Armory for the second night of the three-day festival.
Interest in film and filmmaking has been on the rise in Harford County, where a handful of Hollywood productions and indie films have been shot or developed, such as the acclaimed "Roulette" in the latter category.
The Town of Bel Air, in conjunction with the Bel Air Cultural Arts Commission, announces the 8th Annual Town of Bel Air Film Festival to be held October 13 to 15, 2016 at the Bel Air Reckord Armory, 37 North Main Street in Bel Air. The festival provides a unique opportunity for the community to gather together in a historic venue to view films that inspire and give a glimpse into the human experience.
By Staff report
Oct 05, 2016 | 6:30 AM
In brief remarks before Friday night's showing, Jack Gerbes, director of the Maryland Film Office, highlighted Bel Air and Harford County's visibility among film and television productions.
"The reason that they love it here in Maryland, and they love it here in Harford County is, one, the citizens of Harford County, certainly," Gerbes said. "Two, the amazing support that they get from all the jurisdictions, specifically Harford County."
Gerbes said the hit Netflix political drama, which is shot throughout Harford County, has had a huge economic impact since it began production in 2012.
A section of South Main Street, just a few blocks from the Armory, was closed for several hours two weeks earlier for the shooting of street scenes for an upcoming fifth-season episode. The latest season of "House of Cards" is scheduled to air in early 2017.
When the fourth season production wrapped up in early 2016, Gerbes said "House of Cards," most of whose indoor scenes are shot on sound stages in Joppa, already had been supported by more than 2,300 Maryland vendors, including 395 Harford businesses.
"They really have a direct impact," he said of film and TV productions.
"Landfill Harmonic," the Bel Air festival's featured documentary, tells the story of the Recycled Orchestra, a group of young musicians who live near a massive landfill outside the Paraguayan capital. Their instruments are made from items discarded in the landfill. The teens played those instruments during their journey to worldwide fame.
"It's a great film," Gerbes, a Forest Hill resident and regular guest at the film festival, said. "It's going to tear your heart out, but in the end, it's really going to uplift you."
And, the featured film indeed had emotional impact on some of the viewers at the armory.