LBJ
LBJ

LBJ, directed by Rob Reiner and starring Woody Harrelson as LBJ, Jeffrey Donovan as John F. Kennedy, Richard Jenkins as Senator Richard Russell, Jr., and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lady Bird Johnson, will be the opening night film of the 2017 Annapolis Film Festival on Thursday, March 30 at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts.  The film is expected to be released this summer.

LBJ shows Johnson confronting the challenge of leading a nation still grieving its beloved President Kennedy, even as he grapples with urgent calls for social justice led by Martin Luther King Jr. Shrewd by nature even when he was appallingly coarse, Johnson emerges in Harrelson’s full-blooded characterization as a man willing to drive through landmark legislation partly on principle and largely on guts.

Now in its fifth year, the Annapolis Film Festival (AFF) brings independent cinema to the Chesapeake with an extraordinary lineup of narrative, short, and documentary films. The Festival takes place March 30th to April 2nd, 2017 in downtown Annapolis.

Signature AFF programs include the Friday night African-American Experience Showcase, Chasing Trane, a Denzel Washington-narrated documentary about the origins and worldwide impact of jazz titan John Coltrane. This year’s Environmental Showcase presents the documentary The Islands and the Whales, directed by Mike Day and featuring pioneering ambisonic sound design by George Lucas’ Skywalker Sound. Other film topics include our Jewish Experience showcase, sailing, the military, politics, food, the LGBTQ community, global issues, current events, and the fine arts.

Some of the full-length features and documentaries on the 2017 film line-up are:

Narrative Features:

Burn Your Maps, directed by Jordan Roberts, shows the emotional turmoil experienced by an all-American family when their eccentric eight year old insists he is a goat herder from Mongolia.

Interlude: City of a Dead Woman, directed by Angela Ismailos, a USA/France/Greece co-production. Set on the Greek Island of Patmos, this is a story of three travelers’ heartbreak and loss.

Lilly and the Magic Pearl, directed by Anri Koulev. This Bulgarian family-friendly film tells of Lilly’s adventure under the water with the deep sea creatures. A tale of friendship and hope.

One Week and A Day, directed by Asaph Polonsky, from Israel. A modern, Jewish comedy about two grieving parents and how they attempt to regain a sense of control after loss.

The Tiger Hunter, directed by Lena Khan. A broad comedy about a young, Indian man who relocates to swinging 70’s Chicago. Stars Danny Pudi from Community and Jon Heder from Napoleon Dynamite.

Documentaries:

Before the West Coast, directed by Oyd Craddock. Follows the 1960’s ruling that integrated all-black Augustine High School into Louisiana’s all-white Catholic high school sports association.

Bezness as Usual, directed by Alex Pitstra, a Netherlands/Germany/Sweden/Switzerland/Tunisia co-production. This broad appeal film shows unconventional families and a global perspective on cultural misunderstandings and failed expectations.

Breaking Point: the War for Democracy in Ukraine, directed by Mark Jonathan Harris and Oles Sanin. A harrowing examination of the Ukrainian lives violently disrupted by Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Check It, directed by Toby Oppenheimer and Dana Flor. This film, set in Washington, DC, shows the first gang of gay and transgender youth led by an ex-convict, Mo, who band together to fight other gangs and, unexpectedly, create a fashion line.

Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table, directed by Leslie Iwerks. The story of the doyenne of Creole cuisine and the force behind New Orleans’ restaurants, Brennan’s and Commander’s Palace.

Following Seas, directed by Tyler J. Kelley and Araby Williams, tells the tale of two sailors who steer their 53 foot cutter to places no small boat has been before.

Jackson, directed by Maisie Crow. Jackson, Mississippi has become ground zero in the nation’s battle over reproductive healthcare. The film tells the story of two women with very different viewpoints.

The Islands and the Whales, directed by Mike Day, a UK/Denmark co-production. The whale hunters of the Faroe Islands see their way of life threatened forever by changes in their environment.