Maryland Film Festival completed its 2015 lineup today, unveiling its Closing Night film, the titles for its annual Opening Night Shorts Program, and a few late-breaking features. The 2015 Festival runs May 6 to 10 in downtown Baltimore.
Maryland Film Festival’s Closing Night film will be Crystal Moselle’s The Wolfpack (pictured above), the mind-blowing buzz documentary that took home the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. MFF also announced 5 additional emerging features for its lineup, including new work from Joe Swanberg, Rick Alverson, and Andrew Bujalski; and two repertory screenings guest-curated by key figures in Baltimore’s cultural scene: musician Abdu Ali introducing Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, and Wham City’s Alan Resnick and Dina Kelberman introducing Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls.
Maryland Film Festival first devoted its Opening Night to celebrating shorts filmmakers in 2002, and has done so each year since 2004. Opening Night will take place in the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Falvey Hall the evening of Wednesday, May 6th. Each Opening Night short will be hosted by its filmmaker. MFF 2015’s Opening Night shorts are:
BAD BOY OF BOWLING (Bryan Storkel) From the co-director of Fight Church, a high-octane portrait of a bowling star with a plus-sized personality.
CHARLOTTE (Angel Kristi Williams) A coming-of-age story from the director of MFF 2012’s The Christmas Tree, a Baltimore native.
MELVILLE (James M. Johnston) A rapper struggling with personal pain finds release in music. Directed by the producer of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.
PINK GRAPEFRUIT (Michael Mohan) A couple sets up two friends for a romantic weekend. Winner of the narrative shorts jury award at SXSW.
SHARE (Pippa Bianco) A young woman returns to high school after being shamed by an explicit video. Winner of a special jury prize at SXSW.
Feature films announced for MFF 2015 today:
Best of Enemies (Robert Gordon, Morgan Neville) In 1968, a ratings-starved ABC coordinated a series of debates between conservative journalist William F. Buckley, Jr. and liberal novelist and thinker Gore Vidal. The network garnered huge audiences—and perhaps a bit more than they bargained for, as high-level political discourse collided with name-calling and meltdowns. This Sundance-premiered documentary comes courtesy of Twenty Feet From Stardom director Morgan Neville, and author/filmmaker Robert Gordon (of MFF 2012’s Very Extremely Dangerous).
Digging For Fire (Joe Swanberg) When young parents Tim (Jake Johnson) and Lee (Rosemarie DeWitt) agree to house-sit for a wealthy acquaintance, Tim finds something suspicious on the grounds—and an initial spark of intrigue becomes a consuming obsession. Joe Swanberg continues to take his unique working methods to the next level, with an amazing cast that includes Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson, Sam Rockwell, Anna Kendrick, Jane Adams, Sam Elliott, and Mike Birbiglia, all working together to deliver an infectious mix of comedy, drama, romance, and thrills.
Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989) Spike Lee’s modern classic, detailing racial tensions and police brutality on the hottest day of summer in Bedford-Stuyvesant, has never been more crucial and relevant. With the sounds of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” blasting from boomboxes, this seminal film boasts cinematography from Ernest Dickerson, and an Academy Award-nominated screenplay (not to mention an iconic performance) from Lee; his phenomenal ensemble cast includes Ossie Davis, Danny Aiello, Ruby Dee, Rosie Perez, Joie Lee, Bill Nunn, John Turturro, and Samuel L. Jackson. Selected and guest-hosted by musician, DJ, and curator Abdu Ali.
Entertainment (Rick Alverson) Gregg Turkington, perhaps best known for his persona Neil Hamburger, stars as The Comedian, a beleaguered, Hamburger-ian performer who endlessly tours Grade-Z clubs and non-venues across America, shocking and dismaying audiences with his lewd and convoluted punchlines. At turns bleak, poignant, disturbing, and darkly hilarious, this fascinating and beautifully composed provocation from the director of The Comedy also features Amy Seimetz, John C. Reilly, Tye Sheridan, Lotte Verbeek, and Michael Cera.
People, Places, Things (Jim Strouse) In this thoughtful and hilarious rom-com, Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords and What We Do in the Shadows stars as a graphic novelist whose comfortable life is shaken after walking in on his wife with another man. Downgraded to a tiny apartment and weekends-only status with his twin daughters, a bright spot appears when a student in a college art course he teaches challenges him to be more social and adventurous.
Results (Andrew Bujalski) High-octane personal trainer Kat (Cobie Smulders) works for her friend, fitness guru and entrepreneur Trevor (Guy Pearce)—both of whom have their lives turned upside-down when nouveau-riche couch potato Danny (Kevin Corrigan) arrives at their gym. The director of MFF 2013’s Computer Chess follows up that highly experimental work with something different: a romantic comedy with a stellar cast and a massive heart.
Showgirls (Paul Verhoeven, 1995) Intentional camp? Brilliant social commentary? A noble failure? Irredeemable trash? Books have been written exploring what Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Starship Troopers, The Fourth Man) was going for with this follow-up to mega-hit Basic Instinct. Starring Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan, and Gina Gershon, this seedy, Vegas-set film was derided upon its release but has lived on as a midnight movie and cult favorite. Selected and guest-hosted by Alan Resnick and Dina Kelberman of Wham City.
The Wolfpack (Crystal Moselle) CLOSING NIGHT This extraordinary documentary brings us into the lives of the Angulo brothers, who grew up homeschooled and in extreme isolation from the outside world in a Lower East Side apartment. Home video became their only window into the outside world, and they took to recreating their favorite scenes and styling themselves after films such as Reservoir Dogs. But when one of the brothers escapes the confines of their apartment, all of their lives are forever changed. A sensation at Sundance, where it won the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize, this is a documentary that delivers on the buzz, built on amazing access to a truly incredible story and unforgettable characters.