After years without a film festival, Annapolis is preparing for not one but two film events.
This weekend marks the first Annapolis Reel Cinema Festival, which will show its films at St. John's College Key Auditorium and the Crown Theatre in Eastport. The festival opens tonight with Morvern Callar, a Scottish dark comedy that is making its Maryland premiere at the event.
The festival also will feature avant-garde cinema, a shorts program and experimental horror films. Many of the films are locally made, and some of the filmmakers will be at the screenings to discuss their work.
Reel Cinema spokeswoman Laura Willoughby said the idea for the festival came from Annapolis Capital reporter Noi Mahoney, who felt that great films were passing Annapolis by. He organized the festival, and a four-member jury from the Annapolis area picked the films that would be screened.
"In the past, there's been people that have been interested in a festival. It's just something that, for one reason or another, never came to fruition," Willoughby said.
Reel Cinema will be screening some odd films - including Cemetery Love Story, which Willoughby describes as "an Amish murder story/love story." But family-friendly features will be shown, including the popular The Last Season, a documentary about Memorial Stadium's last stand.
Ticket prices range from $7 for individual screenings to $25 for an all-inclusive pass. Details and a schedule are available at www.annapolisfilm.com.
The second film festival isn't until October, but organizers of the Annapolis Film Festival say they are working furiously to prepare. Asteros Filmworks, a local production company, is seeking independent films from around the region to screen at its festival.
Maria Triandos, who runs the company with her sister, said she didn't know about the Annapolis Reel Cinema Festival when they started planning.
The Annapolis Film Festival runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 and does not have a schedule because films are still being accepted. The films will likely show at the Crown Eastport and at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Information is available at www.annapolisfilmfestival.com.
Triandos said the festivals have different missions: While the Reel organizers are showing films large and small, Asteros wants to showcase only independent filmmakers and offer prizes to winners, as many of the major festivals do. But Triandos said she plans to attend the Reel festival and said the two might collaborate in the future.
"We've got a rich community of filmmakers here," Triandos said.
The city has an appetite for independent films, Triandos said. She has been one of the organizers for Indies at the Grill, which screens independent films at the Annapolis Cinema Grill once a month. Usually, about 80 people show up for each - a packed house.
"We think it is time for a film festival," she said. "Obviously, it is - because someone else is doing it, too."