Thursday, April 28, 2016

My 2015 Maryland Film Festival Experience [VIDEOS]

Last year for the Maryland Film Festival was totally surreal. The festival started three days after the curfew was lifted following the Baltimore Riots (also called the Freddie Gray riots, the Baltimore Uprising, the Baltimore Unrest etc). It was a tumultuous time in Baltimore. Baseball games were being played without crowds, people were afraid to come into the city, the police were still dealing with after effects of the unrest. It was a heck of a time to have a film festival, but MFF did and I was a part of it.

In the midst of the turmoil, I wrote what is becoming an annual article for indiewire blog Shadow & Act 2015 Maryland Film Festival Kicks Off This Week (May 6-10) - Black Films to Put on Your To-See List  detailing the films playing at the festival featuring black personnel (cast, subject or crew).

At the festival, one of the first feature films I saw was also a surreal moment. As I said then "Do The Right Thing in Baltimore a week after the Baltimore Riots"

Seeing that classic film that captured racial strife so brilliantly a week after the riots was just wild. It was quite a somber moment in the city at that time and this screening was equally somber.

The next day I attended a great panel, "A Work in Progress: Writing Race". As the Baltimore Sun put it:
In the wake of unrest in Baltimore, a panel discussion [A Work in Progress: Writing Race] at this week's Maryland Film Festival will feature four notable writers whose works touch on Baltimore, race or some combination thereof:  "The Wire" creator David Simon; Pulitzer Prize winner and Baltimore writer Taylor Branch; National Book Award winner James McBride; and essayist and commentator Ta-Nehisi Coates, a National Magazine Award-winning editor at Atlantic magazine.
From Left to Right: Ta-Nehisi Coates & David Simon
All four men are working on the script for the upcoming HBO mini-series, "America in the King Years," which is being produced for HBO by Simon's Blown Deadline Productions. It is based on Branch's three-volume history of the Civil Rights movement.
(You can see video of the "A Work in Progress: Writing Race" panel at the end of this post.)

That next day it was my pleasure to introduce the film Girlhood at the festival.

I really loved that film and it was my pleasure to present it to the MFF audience. You can read my review of Girlhood here )
I was planning on seeing several other films after Girlhood, but I was asked to do this.
CLICK for a bigger view
BREAKING NEWS: MFF announces a discussion about filmmaker responsibility and engagement with the community from 3pm-4pm in the Tent Village!  All Tent Village panels are FREE and open to the public!  Our Tent Village is located in the east lot at the MICA Lazarus Center (131 W North Avenue).

This panel will feature Stanley Nelson, director of MFF 2015's THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION; Steve Hoover, director of MFF 2015's CROCODILE GENNADIY; Ramona Diaz, director of DON'T STOP BELIEVIN': EVERYMAN'S JOURNING; and Chip Dizard, director of OH, BALTIMORE.  The panel will be moderated by Dankwa Brooks, Multi-award winning writer and director of MAKING HISTORY.
I guess it was my turn to be on a panel LOL, but a chance to moderate a panel with a filmmaker I admired–no brainer! 
I had a chance to hang out with Stanley Nelson before the panel at the festival and it was really a great moment. The panel went really great as well as our filmmakers had great answers about filmmaker responsibility and community engagement.
Top left to right: Stanley Nelson and Dankwa Brooks
Bottom left to right: Steve Hoover, Chip Dizard and Ramona Diaz
We covered issues like telling your story without exploitation and more. A really great discussion.
Later on that evening was the Maryland Film Festival premiere of
Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Of course I was right there, it was another great film by Mr. Nelson and I wasn't the only one to think so! Here’s video of the audience reaction from the 'Nother Brother Entertainment Facebook page.

(I wrote more about Mr. Nelson on the 'Nother Brother Entertainment blog here )

So as you can see I had an extremely busy time at the 2015 Maryland Film Festival and even though it was busy it was still a blast!

 You can see all of our posts about the Maryland Film Festival here

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