Maryland Film Festival taking place May 7-11, 2014 in downtown Baltimore, continued announcing titles for its 16th annual festival, unveiling 18 feature-length films in addition to the 22 already announced.Today’s announcement included Sundance-premiered titles The Case Against 8, Hellion, and Obvious Child; films from Russia, Uruguay, and Quebec; documentaries about street photographers, art forgers, and a former Wire Actress; Onur Tukel’s vampire comedy Summer of Blood; and Slamdance special jury prize-winner I Play With the Phrase Each Other.
The 18 feature films announced today for MFF 2014 are:
ACTRESS (Robert Greene) Brandy Burre had a recurring role on HBO’s The Wire before giving up her career to start a family. When she decides to reclaim her life as an actor years later, the domestic world she’s carefully created crumbles around her. The latest non-fiction film from the director of Fake It So Real (MFF 2011).
APPROACHING THE ELEPHANT (Amanda Wilder) This documentary recalls the pioneering early work of Frederick Wiseman as it embeds viewers in the inaugural year of a democratic free school where classes are voluntary and children and staff have equal votes in creating the rules.
ART AND CRAFT (Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman) For several decades, gifted and incredibly prolific forger Mark Landis compulsively created impeccable copies of works by a variety of major artists, donating them to institutions across the country and landing pieces on many of their walls. Art and Craft brings us into the cluttered and insular life of an unforgettable character just as he finds his foil in an equally obsessive art registrar.
THE AUCTION (Sébastien Pilote) This poignant character study from Quebec follows a sheep farmer who’s stayed true to the way of life he inherited from his father even as, one by one, his neighbors sell off their farms to developers. As he reaches old age, his two daughters come back into his life in ways that change him forever.
BALTIMORE IN BLACK AND WHITE (Mary Posatko, Emily Topper) One night in 1972, a murder rocked a Baltimore family. Years later, Emily Topper returns to the city, seeking closure for a crime that has haunted her family over 40 years—and uncovers complex issues of race and class in the process.
BUZZARD (Joel Potrykus) In the unnerving and darkly comic tradition of Frownland and Bad Fever comes the story of Marty, a bored and angry office worker who takes his penchant for cheating the system over the edge. Fresh from screenings at SXSW and New Directors/New Films.
THE CASE AGAINST 8 (Ben Cotner, Ryan White) With the passing of California’s Proposition 8 in 2008, the right for same-sex couples to marry was repealed. A very unlikely pair of lawyers—Theodore Olson and David Boies, who faced off during Bush v. Gore—decided to challenge Prop 8, and take their case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. This riveting documentary offers remarkable access as it follows that fight from day one to its emotional conclusion.
CELESTIAL WIVES OF THE MEADOW MARI (Aleksey Fedorchenko) From the writer/director team behind 2010’s Silent Souls comes this frank exploration of the sex lives of female members of the Meadow Mari, a western Russian ethnic group that prizes fertility, beauty, and happiness.
DEEP CITY: THE BIRTH OF THE MIAMI SOUND (Dennis Scholl, Marlon Johnson, Chad Tingle) While the soulful sounds of Detroit and Memphis are celebrated worldwide thanks to influential labels like Motown and Stax, the 1960s and 1970s saw explosions of soul and funk scenes throughout the country. Deep City mixes wonderful music and archival footage with new interviews as it documents the songwriters, performers, and entrepreneurs behind a vibrant Miami record label that should’ve been huge.
EVERYBODY STREET (Cheryl Dunn) More than a dozen photographers (including Ricky Powell, Jamel Shabazz, Martha Cooper, and Boogie) are the subject of this visually rich documentary celebrating artists who have given us new ways to see both the streets of New York and the colorful characters that populate them.
GLENA (Allan Luebke) This rousing documentary follows Glena Avila, a woman who, despite no background in the sport, gave cage fighting a try. In the process, she discovered a deep passion and strong talent—but also put new pressures on her finances, love life, and relationship with her teenage son.
HELLION (Kat Candler) Juliette Lewis, Aaron Paul, and newcomer Josh Wiggins shine in this drama following a Southeast Texas teen trying to find himself amidst a group of hell-raising friends and a father tormented by his own personal demons. A feature developed from Candler’s short of the same name, which screened within the festival in 2012.
I PLAY WITH THE PHRASE EACH OTHER (Jay Alvarez) The first feature film composed entirely of cellphone calls centers around Jake, a young neurotic who moves to the city to live with his friend Sean, a fanatical poet who survives by swindling inexperienced Craigslist customers. Winner of a Special Jury Prize for Original Vision at Slamdance 2014.
THE MILITANT (Manolo Nieto) A wave of exciting films from Uruguay has hit the festival circuit over the last decade, evidence of a rich film culture previously under-represented on U.S. screens. As with Gigante and A Useful Life (MFF 2011), films that share beautiful camerawork from The Militant’s Arauco Hernández Holz, this film focuses on an idiosyncratic loner struggling to find his rhythm with the people around him—in this case, a taciturn student organizer who relocates from the big-city university to a rural outpost after his father passes away.
OBVIOUS CHILD (Gillian Robespierre) When a 20-something Brooklyn comedian gets dumped, her comedic material and personal life both head in impulsive new directions, leading to an unwanted pregnancy and an appointment at Planned Parenthood. Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann, David Cross, Gabe Liedman, and Richard Kind star in this comedy that mines a divisive issue for surprisingly warm and hilarious returns.
SUMMER OF BLOOD (Onur Tukel) Neurotic romance collides with bloody horror and the mixed blessing of immortality in this vampire comedy set in contemporary New York. Starring writer/director Tukel (co-star and co-writer of MFF 2011’s Septien) alongside Anna Margaret Hollyman (star of MFF 2013’s White Reindeer), Dakota Goldhor, and Dustin Guy Defa.
THE VANQUISHING OF THE WITCH BABA YAGA (Jessica Oreck) From the director of Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo and Aatsinki: The Story of Arctic Cowboys, both of which screened within the festival, comes this mysterious feature that descends into Eastern Europe’s haunted woodlands to deliver a captivating mix of documentary, experimental film, folklore, and animation.
YOUNG BODIES HEAL QUICKLY (Andrew T. Betzer) At once meditative and transgressive, this challenging art film shot in and around Maryland brings to mind the work of Harmony Korine and Bruno Dumont in telling its story of two young brothers on the run as they hope to reconnect with their estranged father, a key figure in a disturbing subculture. Cast includes Kate Lyn Sheil (Sun Don’t Shine, The Comedy) and Julie Sokolowski (of Dumont’s Hadewijch).