Movie fans who can't wait for Baltimore's spring festival season can get a jump on things this weekend, as the first Annapolis Reel Cinema Festival gets cranking in the state capital.
Featuring mostly the works of young, aspiring and often local filmmakers, the festival includes a few surprise bonuses as well, including tonight's kick-off presentation, Morvern Callar.
The Scottish film, from writer-director Lynne Ramsay, stars Samantha Morton (Sweet and Lowdown, Minority Report) as Morvern, a supermarket clerk who sets out for Ibiza after her boyfriend commits suicide, taking with her his unpublished novel, which she passes off as her own.
Noi Mahoney, a business reporter for the Annapolis Capital who organized this year's festival, said he heard about the film from a friend living overseas and thought it sounded like just the thing - an independent film that's received only limited distribution, starring an actress with name recognition - to showcase at the festival.
Mahoney says he's especially excited by two other films, Evan Mather's Icarus of Pittsburgh, the story of an obsessed Pittsburgh Steelers fan heading heavenward to be reunited with his father, and Missing Pieces, a documentary from Victoria Bruce and Karin Hayes. That film, which follows the campaign of a woman running for president of Colombia that ends when she's taken hostage and held for ransom, is generating interest from HBO, he says.
The bulk of the festival is being devoted to shorts, most of them 25 minutes or shorter and grouped together under such headings as "Smart as Whips and Tragically Hip" or "Urban Issues."
The festival opens tonight at 7:45 with Morvern Callar, showing at the Crown Eastport Arts Cinemas, 919 Chesapeake Ave., and continues throughout the weekend at the Crown and St. John's College. Tickets are $7 at the door; day passes can be purchased for $14, weekend passes for $25. Information: 410-263-1465 or www.annapolis film.com.
At the Charles
This weekend at the Charles:
Tomorrow at noon, the Saturday Revival Series continues with Ninotchka, a 1939 film memorable for all sorts of reasons. With a script co-written by Billy Wilder, about a Russian diplomat (Greta Garbo) who falls under capitalism's spell (largely in the form of a smooth-talking Melvyn Douglas), it marked an early effort by the man who would go on to become one of Hollywood's greatest, most creative talents. It co-stars Bela Lugosi, in one of the few roles (post-Dracula) worthy of his talent. And it marked Garbo's first on-screen laugh, which alone caused a sensation. Information: 410-727-FILM.
Cinema Sundays presents Divine Intervention, director Elia Suleiman's unexpectedly lighthearted (at times) story of Palestinian lovers kept apart by an Israeli checkpoint. Showtime is 10:30 a.m., and tickets are $15. Information 410-727-FILM or www.cinemasundays.com.
Best of the worst
And for a reminder that movies don't have to be good to be fun, check out the Johns Hopkins Medical Systems' continuing tribute to the Razzies, Hollywood's annual celebration of the worst in cinema. Thursday's feature is Hudson Hawk, a 1991 disaster starring Bruce Willis (who also gets a story credit) as a cat burglar trying to go straight, who ends up having to steal paintings by Leonardo da Vinci.
Audiences, critics and just about everyone with a pulse hated this thing when it came out. See if maybe they were all wrong. Showtime is 7:15 p.m. at the Preclinical Teaching Building, Wolfe and Monument streets. Call 410-955-3363.