Now that I have only a week left of school I feel I can make a post. That and I had a great time this week at my first ever Maryland Film Festival!
I’ve gotta say ever since joining LKT (Lambda Kappa Tau) I am way more sensitive to the media arts around me. I believe that this festival is held every spring and I definitely didn’t know about it my first semester at Towson (which happened to be spring). As the start date for the MFF drew closer, a few faculty began sending out emails (and even Facebook messages) to those of us they see most often in and out of class, encouraging all of the students interested in film (but mostly Electronic Media & Film* kids) to go to the festival; even volunteer to work the festival’s tech like projections and audio. At first I thought I’d only be able to make one film and I would’ve been fine with that. But instead I got to see three!
Heads up, these are not critical movie reviews, or even movies reviews at all really. just a summary and what I liked about them.
CALL GIRL OF CTHULHU Directed by Towson Alum, Chris LaMartina. Baltimore-based D.I.Y. horror helmer Chris LaMartina’s latest tells the Lovecraft-inspired story of a virginal artist who falls in love with a call girl that turns out to be the chosen bride of the alien god Cthulhu.I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Chris and sitting in on a couple of talks with him and other students at school. One was for a workshop exclusively for LKT since Chris has worked with at least two of my fellow society members, and they asked him and some friends of his on his production team to sit down and talk about their journey thus far. And the second time was the same thing, only open to all EMF* students. Honestly, before seeing this movie, I knew nothing of Lovecraft so I went into this movie totally blind. I usually don’t watch movies like this, they’re just not my cup of tea, but all the same it was cool watching all of the blood and goo in this dark action comedy. Chris and his team did a fine job and looked like they had a fun time making the movie, and I hope to create the same fun environment on a movie one day too. For those who are fans of the B-movies filled with blood and guts, profanity and sex, this is for you. Google more on Chris LaMartina, I read this is his seventh feature and I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll see of him. Kudos to him for falling in love onset too as his lead actress is his bride to be. Talk about falling in love with you work! That was cool to hear because I asked during the Q&A what it was like for Chris and Melissa to work together and that’s when I learned they started dating during production or there abouts. Still, very cool dynamic they struck and it reminded me of my film friends Tiffany and Jahmal Tucker; power couples making it work in the industry! And that was Thursday night.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS Directed Joe Swanberg. Following his breakthrough hit Drinking Buddies, Joe Swanberg re-teams with star Anna Kendrick and cinematographer Ben Richardson (Beasts of the Southern Wild) for an insightful look at family and friendship centered around a Chicago Christmas. Cast includes Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, and Lena Dunham.Sunday! So Thursday I got a voucher which lets you pick up a free ticket (if any are left) to any single screening; got that off my editing professor. Then I got two more from some friends who couldn’t go to the rest of the festival. So today (yesterday) some LKT friends and I sped down to the MICA Brown Center to see this little gem with Anna Kendrick. Real talk, this is only the second movie I’ve ever seen her in, even though she’s probably everywhere. It was also cool seeing her reunite with her Scott Pilgrim V.S. the World co-star Mark Webber (Stephen Stills) in this movie. Let me also say Joe’s real-life baby, Jude steals the show in this movie as the comic relief. My friend Duncan also pointed out that Joe’s wife (in and out of the movie) was also the annoying neighbor crushing on Charlie Sheen when he was on Two And A Half Men and I thought that was cool. Oh, and my first time seeing Lena Dunham which was cool, since I haven’t seen her show Girls; not too much not too little and she was funny.Anna Kendrick plays an immature young woman living with her brother (Joe Swanberg) in Chi Town after a bad break up. Anna does a good job in her role but based on how she acts in the movie, creating obstacle for herself… I figured that’s why she and her boyfriend broke up, but I have to make that up in my head. No one ever sits her down to talk about what’s bugging her when she does irresponsible things; no one levels with her. So I had to just decide well she may be 27 but she’s still got some growing up to do, but it would’ve been nice to have that laid out and dealt with. Sure Her character gets reprimanded for the mistakes she makes, especially when they affect others, but she kind of skates by in my opinion.
That didn’t break the movie for me and I still really like it, but that’s some of what I felt afterward. My favorite part is when Joe’s wife Melanie decides to take up writing again. I was telling my other friend Ori that the middle of the movie between Melanie and Anna Kendrick was my favorite because there are a bunch of scenes of the women discussing the book and trying to figure characters out and such. It got me excited because I flashed back to when Dad and I were doing the exact same thing on our novel. So that was inspiring and exciting for both Ori and I. If you like interpersonal movies, and holiday movies that aren’t sappy (I forgot Christmas was a factor in this movie despite the title) then check this out on DVD/Blu ray!
PING PONG SUMMER directed by Michael Tully in Ocean City, MD. The director of Septien returns with a sweet and hilarious love letter to summers spent in Ocean City, MD during the golden era of hip-hop, boasting a cast that includes Susan Sarandon, Lea Thompson, Amy Sedaris, and Robert Longstreet.
This movie will absolutely bring back summer family vacation memories for you like it did for me. I’ve actually never been to OC, been more of a Virginia Beach kind of guy (as you’ll learn in ‘A Noteworthy Tribute’) but the family quirkiness and beach fun was very familiar to me and most of the audience. The movie develops into a brief master/apprentice story around the end of the 2nd Act when none other than Susan Sarandon herself takes the central character, Rad, under her wing. I love stories like that! The movie is also quite funny as it takes us back to the mid 80s.After the movie, like with Chris LaMartina, the director, Michael Tully and his cast of teen actors took the stage and answered questions about the their experience. I got to talk to Tully for 5 minutes or so and asked him what it was like writing from such a familiar place like vacation as a kid. It’s something I’d like to do more of, not specifically vacations, though a lot of that inspires “the novel” so that’s cool and apt to this post, but also just writing positive feelings and memories into a story with characters and then expanding on the experiences seems like a lot of fun. Its also something I am trying to accomplish in my script for my screenplay class in the fall semester. And fun fact, Rad’s rival in the movie went to the same school as one of my friends, even asked him to friend him on Facebook; my fiend seemed totally surprised when he recognized the kid. And that was my Sunday.
So I had a great time as you can tell. I’ll post the few pictures I took later in the week. But I have to admit, it felt weird driving back to campus earlier this evening after spending 5 hours in the city watching indie movies and hanging out at a festival. Next year I’ll be even more prepared because I didn’t get to go to any free panels and take part in or listen to discussions and I really wanna do that next time. And also buy some merchandise, the poster is cool but I want a bit more than that haha. But it was a great 2 days of the Maryland Film Festival and I’m really glad I went with friends, just living the dream. This is something I’d like to organize with the family one day too, maybe for the next one and get them hip to the festival and get them to drive out and see something with me and enjoy what I enjoy, especially since before I went to Towson we didn’t spend a lot of time in Baltimore. Its one of my favorite things about going to school here is my horizons have expanded to what’s out there creatively, beforehand I knew nothing of what Baltimore had to offer in the arts. Glad I chose to venture out!
And also, if my family does come around for a festival I think they’d get a kick out of hanging out with the hipster kids! For more information on the Maryland Film Festival go online at md-filmfest.com.