Volume 13, Issue 32 ~ August 11 - 17, 2005

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Feature Stories
photo by Ken Arnold
Sisters Maria Triandos and Demetrea Triantafillides founded the Annapolis Film Festival to connect independent filmmakers and audiences.
A Labor of Sisterly Love
Demetrea Triantafillides and Maria Triandos make Annapolis a movie capital
by Suzanna Brugler

To bring filmmaking to Annapolis, or Annapolis to filmmaking? That is the question.

Sisters Demetrea Triantafillides and Maria Triandos are working to accomplish both.

Bringing filmmaking to Annapolis is the description of their day jobs as co-founders of the Annapolis Film Festival. The four-day event in early November showcases independent films both domestic and international. It’s also a forum where filmmakers and viewers meet, see and talk about original films that don’t make Hollywood news.

“We always thought Annapolis was the perfect setting for a film festival,” said Triandos. “The location is picturesque and a place that filmmakers would be attracted to and want to return to compete again.”

Bringing Annapolis to filmmaking is another part of their job description. As independent filmmakers, they are working on film features including one of the city’s greatest springtime traditions: the delicious display of diametric rivalry in the annual and much-anticipated St. John’s College/U.S. Naval Academy croquet match.

Spend even minutes with the Annapolis High School grads, and you see that this sisterly business partnership, marrying their hometown and filmmaking, is more than just a dream. It’s a cherished labor of love.

Roll the Credits
Displayed in the picturesque showcase window on the front of their downtown Franklin Street office, located just off of Church Circle, the sisters display their credentials in the form of awards and trophies.

Twenty years in the business, Triantafillides has worked as an associate director for NBC 4 for a decade, including working on the acclaimed Sunday news program. But it’s her work in sports, covering the Olympics, where she’s received her highest accolades: three Emmy awards.

Triandos also began her career in the sports realm working in professional sports leagues, brokering their stadiums for events and film locations. It was almost by accident that she broke into the movie business, working locations at the Orioles’ Camden Yards for a small Sony Pictures film project in the early 1990s entitled A League of Their Own.

“I don’t even think they realized when they hired me that I worked locations specifically for Camden Yards,” Maria recalled. “They just gave me job orders to work locations in and around Baltimore, and I made phone calls and contacted people that got me what I needed for the movie.”

The rest, as they say in show business, is history.

A League of Their Own, starring Madonna, Geena Davis and Tom Hanks, introduced the World War II women’s professional baseball league to a new generation of avid fans.

Fast Forward to a Dream
Fast forward some 10 years, and you see the sisters combining their talents to form Asteros Filmworks, a production company that specializes in commercials, government and corporate pieces. That’s where the money comes in. For art’s sake, they make short films. To find an audience for those movies, they got to know the local independent film circuit.

They entered their film, You Need a Ride, into D.C.’s Rosebud Film Festival. They competed in the Baltimore’s 48 Hour Film Project and won four awards for this year’s done-in-two-days entry. A seven-minute action adventure spoof of the super-hero TV shows of the 1960s and ’70s, The Golden Tiki of Djbuti Buti: Episode LXXI was shot on location in Annapolis.

Dissolve to the dream: a film festival for their home town.

“Annapolis is a city rich with different kinds of artists,” explains Triantafillides. “The festival is a way for another kind of artist, local filmmakers, to network because there are many out there who don’t even know about other filmmakers in the area.”

Annapolis Film Festival — coming up on its third year this November — is a time and place for independent filmmakers to showcase their work: features, short films, documentaries and animations. It’s also, all hope, the place they’ll be discovered, garnering the recognition that will propel them to better-known festivals, such as Sundance, Toronto or Cannes.

Before they dazzle festival audiences, filmmakers have to impress festival organizers. A screening committee views all of the entries and forwards its choices to an executive board. The executive board makes the final programming selection, and copies of the chosen entries are then forwarded to a jury, comprised of industry professionals from around the country, for review and prizes.

Films are already coming in for this year’s festival, for which they expect some 500 films of all sorts. This year the sisters are impressed at the large number of feature entries they’re getting — a welcome change from the past two years. But short films come by the hundreds. The short films are not only easier to make, they also help filmmakers get a foot in the door.

“Short films are like a calling card for filmmakers,” said Triantafillides. “It’s a chance to be seen and heard.”

From festivals, filmmakers dream of hopping to the big leagues of filmmaking, getting work at larger studios or even developing a longer version of their short.

Let’s All Go to the Movies
The Annapolis Film Festival is growing in may directions.

“Word of the festival is getting out, and this year our submission list has more than doubled,” said Triantafillides.

Through their summer Budding Filmmakers program, the sisters bring in a director to teach high-schoolers to make movies their art. The Budding Filmmakers’ movie will premier at this November’s Annapolis Film Festival.

To help their local audience keep pace with Annapolis’ new cinematic literacy, the sisters began a monthly independent film screening at Maryland Hall. At each Friday screening, a program of films from a previous festival is shown, with a filmmaker coming to talk and answer questions about the craft.

In May, the editor of the documentary High Eight, about a New Orleans teen street band, talked about his career.

On August 12, the feature is an Annapolis premier. Virginia-based director Richard Squires’ Crazy like a Fox, stars Emmy Award nominee and Royal Shakespeare Company veteran Roger Rees (Pink Panther, Frida, Scorpion King) and two-time Academy Award nominee Mary McDonnell (Donnie Darko, Independence Day, Dances with Wolves). Squires then talks with the audience.

At this month’s indie showing, the sisters are introducing yet another of their ideas for bringing filmmaking to Annapolis — and Annapolis to filmmaking: the Annapolis Film Society.

“We are hoping the Annapolis Film Society will create a forum in Annapolis where filmmakers, enthusiasts and film buffs can meet,” explained Triandos.

Separate from the festival’s monthly screenings, the Annapolis Film Society is a membership-based program that offers discounts to the November film festival, the monthly independent film screenings and participating local businesses. Members can also join a film review club, similar to a book club, for film discussion.

An Annapolis Film Society kickoff reception with food and drink follow the exclusive screening of Crazy like a Fox.

One way and another, the sisters Triandos and Triantafillides are making sure that come November 4 through 7, cinematically savvy Annapolis movie-goers will be ready for whatever those arty filmmakers throw at them.

Suzanna Brugler, public affairs specialist and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, has traveled the world over with the Navy, living in Japan, California, Virginia and now again Annapolis, where she is becoming a fan of indie movies.

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