The 2017 Maryland Film Festival is gearing up to take place May 3rd – 7th in Baltimore, and today the first 26 features have been announced. Highlights include the new Alex Ross Perry joint Golden Exits, the dirty nun comedy The Little Hours, and Nathan Silver‘s latest, Thirst Street, among many others.
Take a look at the full list of newly announced films below and check out mdfilmfest.com for more information.
FIRST 16 NARRATIVE FEATURE FILMS ANNOUNCED TODAY FOR MdFF 2017
Eric Hatch, director of programming for MdFF, said, “We’re extremely excited that the lineup for our first festival in our new home, the year-round Parkway Theatre, boasts such an eclectic and artistically rich array of films from strong emerging voices in independent cinema. We’re particularly proud that this first wave of MdFF 2017 announcements includes the world premieres of two excellent works, Stephen Cone’s nuanced coming-of-age drama Princess Cyd and Josh Crockett’s hilarious and insightful Dr. Brinks & Dr. Brinks, as well as the U.S. premiere of Ashley McKenzie’s haunting and uncompromising Werewolf.”
Director: Eliza Hittman
An aimless teenager on the outer edges of Brooklyn struggles to escape his bleak home life and navigate questions of self-identity as he balances his time between his delinquent friends, a potential new girlfriend, and older men he meets online. From the director of It Felt Like Love (MdFF 2013).
DR. BRINKS & DR. BRINKS – World Premiere
Director: Josh Crockett
Estranged siblings Marcus and Michelle Brinks are reunited after the sudden death of their parents, two globe-trotting aid workers who they barely knew. In the days following the wake, the siblings can’t help but turn their current lives and relationships into chaos as they’re forced to reckon with their shared past. A comedy about tragedy. The first feature from the director of such short films as Dogsbody (MdFF 2016).
FAMILY LIFE (VIDA DE FAMILIA)
Directors: Alicia Scherson, Cristián Jiménez
While housesitting for a distant cousin, a lonely man fabricates an ex-wife and estranged daughter in order to win over the single mother he has just met. From Chile comes this dark, insightful, and sexually explicit exploration of domestic space, relationships, and human idiosyncrasies.
Director: Alex Ross Perry
Nick has settled into a safe existence in a small pocket of Brooklyn, where he currently toils on an archival project for his father-in-law. Soon, 20-something Naomi arrives from Australia to assist Nick for the semester. She has no acquaintances in the city beyond a loose family connection to Buddy, a music producer who lives in the same neighborhood. For the few months she spends around Nick, Buddy, and their families, Naomi’s presence upsets the unpleasant balance holding these two households together. Stars include Adam Horowitz, Emily Browning, Mary-Louise Parker, Lily Rabe, Jason Schwartzman, and Chloë Sevigny.
THE HUMAN SURGE
Director: Eduardo Williams
Buenos Aires. Exe, 25 years old, has just lost his job and is not looking for another one. His neighbors and friends seem as odd to him as they always do. Online, he meets Alf, a boy from Mozambique who is also bored with his job and who is about to follow Archie, another boy who has run away into the jungle. Through the dense vegetation of the forest, Archie tracks ants back to their nest. One of them wanders off course and comes across Canh, a Filipino, sitting on top of a giant heap of earth and who is about to go back to his strange, beautiful home town.
Director: Janicza Bravo
Lemon: a person or thing that proves defective, imperfect, or unsatisfactory. A man whose blind girlfriend is leaving him, whose career is going nowhere and whose family is disappointed in him—Isaac Lachmann is 40. He doesn’t know how he got there. Things were supposed to work out differently. Stars include Brett Gelman, Judy Greer, Michael Cera, and Nia Long.
THE LITTLE HOURS
Director: Jeff Baena
Medieval nuns Alessandra (Alison Brie), Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza), and Ginevra (Kate Micucci) lead a simple life in their convent. Their days are spent chafing at monastic routine, spying on one another, and berating the estate’s day laborer. After a particularly vicious insult session drives the peasant away, Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) brings on new hired hand Massetto (Dave Franco), a virile young servant forced into hiding by his angry lord. Introduced to the sisters as a deaf-mute to discourage temptation, Massetto struggles to maintain his cover as the repressed nunnery erupts in a whirlwind of pansexual horniness, substance abuse, and wicked revelry.
LOVE AFTER LOVE
Director: Russell Harbaugh
A glimpse into one family’s romantic, boisterous, messy, treacherous life, Love After Lovecatalogues the reunions and departures of a mother and her two grown sons over the course of several years. In the tradition of Woody Allen and John Cassavetes, Love After Love takes an unblinking look at a family navigating their way forward in the shadow of a shared tragedy. From the director of the short Rolling on the Floor Laughing (MdFF 2012).
Director: Oliver Laxe
A caravan escorts an elderly and dying Sheikh trough the Moroccan Atlas. His last wish is to be buried with his loved ones. But death does not wait. The caravaneers, fearful of the mountain pass, refuse to continue transporting the corpse. Ahmed and Said, two rogues traveling with the caravan, promise to take the body to its destiny. But do they really know the way? In another world, parallel and remote, Shakib is chosen to travel to the mountains where the caravan is. His assignment is clear: he has to help the improvised caravaneers to reach their destination. Shakib also doubts, this is his first mission.
Director: Sofia Exarchou
Gathering in the parched concrete wasteland of Athens’ crumbling Olympic village, a group of teenagers engages daily in boisterous horseplay. The eldest of them, doe-eyed Anna and timid Dimitri, begin courting and soon become a couple. Coming alive in each other’s company, they explore the attractions of a seaside tourist resort with gleeful curiosity and juvenile excitement. Yet with the passing of time, their relationship goes from summery bliss to autumnal anguish, and the impact of the social body on the individual is keenly, painfully felt.
PERSON TO PERSON
Director: Dustin Guy Defa
This ensemble drama depicts a day in the life of a handful of New Yorkers, including two newspaper reporters investigating a possible murder, a slacker hunting for a rare vinyl record, and two teens playing hooky from school. From the director of Bad Fever (MdFF 2011). Stars include Abbi Jacobson, Michael Cera, Tavi Gevinson, and Philip Baker Hall.
PRINCESS CYD – World Premiere
Director: Stephen Cone
Eager to escape life with her depressive single father, 16-year-old athlete Cyd Loughlin visits her novelist aunt in Chicago over the summer. While there, she falls for a girl in the neighborhood, even as she and her aunt gently challenge each other in the realms of sex and spirit. From the director of Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party, which had its world premiere within MdFF 2015.
THE STRANGE ONES
Directors: Lauren Wolkstein, Christopher Radcliff
Mysterious events surround the travels of two brothers as they make their way across a remote American landscape. On the surface all seems normal, but what appears to be a simple vacation soon gives way to dark and complex truths. This first feature from Wolkstein and Radcliff expands the world first explored in their short The Strange Ones, which was part of MdFF 2011’s Opening Night.
Directors: Albert Birney, Kentucker Audley
It’s the story of a small-town gorilla, Sylvio, who is stuck in his job at a debt collection agency. Deep down he just wants to express himself with his hand puppet, Herbert Herpels, and his puppet show that highlights the quiet moments of life. He accidentally joins a local TV program and a series of on-air mishaps threaten to shatter his identity, sending him on a journey of self-discovery. Made in Baltimore, and fresh from its premiere at SXSW 2017.
Director: Nathan Silver
Reeling from a devastating break-up, eager-to-please American flight attendant Gina works a trip to Paris with her colleague Lorraine. Feeling adrift and lonely on her layover, Gina is dragged by Lorraine to a fortune teller, who predicts Gina will encounter her soulmate in the City of Lights: “a man with something in his eye.” After a onenight stand with nightclub bartender Jérôme, Gina thinks she’s found her man, but Jérôme’s new girlfriend Clémence has something to say about it. As she stays on in France and leaves Lorraine behind, Gina barrels face-first into Jerome’s life — and down a spiral of miscommunication, masochism, and madness. An all-out operatic assault, Thirst Streetburrows deep into the delirious extremes we go to for love. From the director of MdFF 2015’s Stinking Heaven.
WEREWOLF – U.S. Premiere
Director: Ashley McKenzie
The hardscrabble existence of two homeless, twenty-something drug addicts is portrayed with sensitivity and brutal honesty in the debut feature by Ashley McKenzie.
FIRST 10 DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILMS ANNOUNCED TODAY FOR MdFF 2017
Eric Hatch, director of programming for MdFF, stated: “We’re very proud to showcase some particularly strong documentary features this year, each of which examines vital issues of culture, community, and history, and two of which—Theo Anthony’s Rat Film and Ramona S. Diaz’s Motherland—come from Baltimore filmmakers whose work is making an international mark.”
Director: Sergei Loznitsa
There are places in Europe that have remained as painful memories of the past – factories where humans were turned into ash. These places are now memorial sites that are open to the public and receive thousands of tourists every year. The film’s title refers to the eponymous novel written by W.G. Sebald, dedicated to the memory of Holocaust. This film is an observation of the visitors to a memorial site that has been founded on the territory of a former concentration camp. Why do they go there? What are they looking for?
THE BLOOD IS AT THE DOORSTEP
Director: Erik Ljung
After Dontre Hamilton, a black, unarmed man diagnosed with schizophrenia, was shot 14 times and killed by police in Milwaukee, his family embarks on a quest for answers, justice, and reform as the investigation unfolds.
Director: Lana Wilson
A former punk-turned-Buddhist-priest in Japan who has made a career out of counseling suicidal people finds himself at a crossroads, leading him to confront the same question his patients ask him: what makes life worth living?
FINDING JOSEPH I: THE HR FROM BAD BRAINS DOCUMENTARY
Director: James Lathos
Finding Joseph I is a documentary film chronicling the eccentric life of punk rock reggae singer, Paul “HR” Hudson from Bad Brains. The charismatic frontman’s explosive live performances helped pioneer hardcore punk while delivering an enlightening message of positive mental attitude. HR’s heavy devotion to the Rastafarian faith guided him in a spiritual direction leaving the band several times to explore his love for reggae music. Over the years, HR’s increasingly unpredictable and abnormal behavior has many convinced that he is suffering from mental illness. Finding Joseph I illustrates the true story behind the legendary lead singer’s life, career and struggles with never before seen archival footage, photography and exclusive interviews.
Director: Miao Wang (Beijing Taxi, MdFF 2010)
Chinese teenagers from the wealthy elite, with big American dreams, settle into a boarding school in small-town Maine. As their fuzzy visions of the American dream slowly gain more clarity, their relationship to home takes on a poignant new aspect.
Director: Ramona S. Diaz
A documentary look at the world’s busiest maternity ward, located in the Philippines, from the Baltimore-based director of Imelda and Don’t Stop Believin’. The director’s work always explores issues related to the Philippines and/or Filipinos. Premiered at Sundance 2017. Diaz, a Baltimore-based filmmaker, is an alumna of the Maryland Film Festival for several feature-length documentaries such as Imelda (MdFF 2004) and The Learning (MdFF 2011).
Director: Theo Anthony
Across walls, fences, and alleys, rats not only expose our boundaries of separation but make homes in them. RAT FILM is a feature-length documentary that uses the rat—as well as the humans that love them, live with them, and kill them–to explore the history of Baltimore. “There’s never been a rat problem in Baltimore, it’s always been a people problem”. Theo Anthony, a Baltimore-based filmmaker, is an alumni of the Maryland Film Festival for the short films Chop My Money (MdFF 2015) and Peace in the Absence of War(MdFF 2016).
THE STAIRS – U.S. Premiere
Director: Hugh Gibson
The Stairs tells the story of Marty, Greg and Roxanne, each of whom survived decades of street-involvement. Using their experiences to ease the paths of others, each performs social work in their old neighborhood, while struggling to maintain their newly-found stability. Told over five years, The Stairs is a non-judgmental character study of life on society’s margins. Defying stereotypes through intimate portraits, its remarkable subjects are by turns surprising, funny, shocking and moving.
TELL THEM WE ARE RISING: THE STORY OF BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
Director: Stanley Nelson
A haven for Black intellectuals, artists and revolutionaries—and path of promise toward the American dream—Black colleges and universities have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field. They have been unapologetically Black for 150 years. For the first time ever, their story is told. Directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson, Tell Them We Are Rising examines the impact HBCUs have had on American history, culture, and national identity. Tell Them We Are Rising will air nationally on the acclaimed PBS series, Independent Lens in early 2018. Nelson is also the director of The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (MdFF 2015).
Directors: Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis
A documentary about the Ferguson Uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and then left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for residents of St. Louis County. Grief, long-standing tension, and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest this latest tragedy. In the days that follow, artists, musicians, teachers and parents turn into freedom fighters, standing on the front lines to demand justice. As the national guard descends on Ferguson, a small suburb of St. Louis, with military grade weaponry, these young community members become the torchbearers of a new wave of resistance.