Annapolis Goes Hollywood
It’s Time for the Third Annual Annapolis Film Festival
previewed by Mark Burns
Annapolis in the autumn is a stage for life’s drama. A venue for the highs and lows of sweet romance, aching family conflict, the heartfelt search for truth and compelling pursuit of sport.
Plus, maybe, a bloody clown rampage.
More appropriately, Annapolis in the autumn is a drape of silver, as the third annual Annapolis Film Festival readies to shine some 100 independent films on five screens. Filmmakers from Maryland, the United States and oh so very far beyond (Thailand, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Russia, Australia, Canada) will reveal their art to Annapolis’ eyes over the course of four nights, vying for exposure and hoping to get fans and distributors stuck on their work like Milk Duds to a theater floor.
The films brightening Annapolis’ nights this weekend, from November 11-14, are the chosen few of more than 500 candidates submitted since January’s call for entries, cut off in August. These lucky ones will compete for top honors handed down by panel in categories for feature films, shorts, documentaries, short documentaries and animation. The Best of Festival winner will land one dandy DVD authoring package, valued at $12,000; others win copies of the Final Draft writing program. Five screens will host the films, three at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and two at the Crown Harbour 9.
“We expect a really good turnout,” says organizer Demetrea Triantafillides. “Lots of people are talking about it.”
Triantafillides and sister Maria Triandos, career film and television pros, started the festival in 2003 with the idea of expanding Annapolis’ local scene and drawing more people into town. Besides, Annapolis seemed the perfect venue, smack between two large cities and near enough to thriving cinematic scenes in New York, North Carolina and Florida. Interest has ballooned.
“We’ve had really good films from the very first festival,” says Triantafillides. The buzz continues to grow as more filmmakers, distributors and cinephiles converge. She’s proud of the coming offering, which includes award winners and 20 world premieres. Genres range widely, as do levels of polish: some might be conceptually experimental while others sport a shiny finish. The only rule is freshness. “Films have to have been made within the last two years,” Triantafillides says. “Sometimes filmmakers start them up, don’t finish them, and then they go back. Sometimes they revise.” The two-year window keeps picks fresh while allowing filmmakers time for tinkering.
Films will be aired simultaneously on the five screens, most in two-hour blocks featuring films from each category, opening with an animation and closing with a feature or full-length documentary. The winners of each category are screened in one block on Monday (6:30pm, Crown Harbour 9). Triantafillides can’t decide on her favorite, but perhaps you can find yours. Some highlights are below. Explore the complete schedule at www.annapolisfilmfestival.com.
• Alchemy a feature directed by Evan Oppenheimer, made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival. The director arrives to discuss his film for Opening Night, featuring a screening followed by a party complete with live music from Mama Jama plus beer, wine, sodas and appetizers (film 7:30pm; party 9pm @ Maryland Hall. $15/film; $25/party; $35/both: 410-263-5544). The light romantic comedy stars Tom Cavanagh (Ed) as a computer scientist in a competition to win a woman’s love. Will it be his emotionally intelligent computer program or a professor on love in western civilization?
• Buckle Brothers world premiere. The feature documentary chronicles the summer of 2003 for four urban cowboys from South Central Los Angeles as they compete in the bull riding circuit. 2pm Sa @ Crown Harbour 9.
• Stephen King’s Gotham Café This 15-minute short is based on Stephen King’s “Lunch at the Gotham Café,” a short story from his book Everything’s Eventual. A young couple meets at the café to sort out their divorce with her lawyer but soon discover the misery of marriage’s end is just the beginning. 4pm Sa @ Crown Harbour 9.
• Fast Crapper In this seven-minute short documentary, explore the world of competitive outhouse racing in Conconully, Washington. Outhouses are placed on skis, have one rider seated within and propelled by pushers with buckets over their heads. 5pm Sa @ Maryland Hall Auditorium.
• Be Very Quiet (Thailand) This award-winning 25-minute short tells the tale of Thana, a young man consumed by nightmares and hatred since having witnessed his mother’s murder as a child; now fate hands him opportunity for vengeance. 7pm Sa @ Maryland Hall rm. 308.
• Fear of Clowns world premiere. In this feature, an artist with coulrophobia vents her fear of clowns through horrific paintings of pantomime peril. Phobia finds foundation, though, as a clown resembling her painted horror begins slaughtering her friends. Now she must confront her fear or fall prey to it. 7pm Sa @ Maryland Hall Gym.
• Crab Town Close to home, this 16-minute short documentary about Pop, a 74-year-old grandfather, chronicles his family’s long-running tradition of recreational crabbing on the Chesapeake’s waterways while exploring crabbing issues in Maryland. 4:30pm Su @ Crown Harbor 9.
• The Gnat and the Lion The four-minute animation puts a comedic spin on Aesop with 3-D computer graphics mimicking the look of stop-motion puppetry. 4:30pm Su @ Crown Harbour 9.
$10/screening w/discounts. Monday’s best of screening is buy one, get one free; $25 Saturday or Sunday day pass; Opening Night Film & Party $35 or $15 movie, $25 reception; $75 weekend pass includes all screenings, Opening Night Film & Party and the Awards Champagne Reception. For tickets call 410-263-5544 or log on to www.annapolisfilmfestival.com.