Sorry this has taken so long, but better late than never. That said, I mean it when I say that I’m over this photo diary shit. Fortunately, I have no more festivals in sight, so after this update it looks like I’m off the hook. Phew.
Let me first say that Jed Dietz, Skizz Cyzyk, and Dan Krovich deserve to be commended for running such an amazingly great film festival. In the current celebrity-poisoned climate, it is downright HEROIC to open a fest with a shorts program instead of a star-laden feature, but that is what the MFF has chosen to do since its inception. Not to mention the fact that no awards are handed out at the end of the weekend, which proves even further just how committed to all of their films Jed, Skizz, and Dan are. And now, let the games begin…
Following the opening night screening at the historic Senator Theatre (whoops, didn’t get a picture of that), the opening night party was held across the street at Belvedere Square, which was one of the more interesting party venues I’ve experienced in my festival run.
Here’s Tipper Newton (LOL) and Matthew Buzzell (director of two festival films: the feature-length Luna documentary TELL ME DO YOU MISS ME, which I missed because my own Q&A got in the way; and PUTTING THE RIVER IN REVERSE, a short doc about the first major recording session in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina). Tipper, meanwhile, charms the pants off anyone who comes within a thirty-foot radius of her.
I had the pleasure of getting to know Lee Wall at the opening night party. Lee is featured in TELL ME DO YOU MISS ME. He was Luna’s drummer for the second phase of their existence. It was neat to talk to someone I’d seen drum on stage for so many years with a band I loved for so many years.
It was sooooo great to reunite with new friends Rory and Robin Muir, who were in town to screen their documentary DOWNTOWN LOCALS. More on them later.
This might very well be my favorite picture of the fest. On the left is LOL co-star/composer Kevin Bewersdorf, while on the far right is writer/producer Raymond Lee (THE BLOSSOMING OF MAXIMO OLIVEROS). I don’t know if I’ve ever met a sweeter human being than Raymond, I really don’t. In the center, flexing his muscles because he has just begun dropping his weekly internet soap opera (YOUNG AMERICAN BODIES) unto the world is Chicago’s own Joe Swanberg. Joe is breaking some serious ground with the work that he’s doing. See for yourself:
This is where just about all of the cinematic action took place. I have to say, having gone to school in Baltimore and visited The Charles for so many years, it was a complete thrill to be screening COCAINE ANGEL there.
Here is the one and only Skizz Cyzyk, who is already exhausted and it’s only Friday morning. Get it together, Skizz! (I guess now’s a good time for me to confess that I never snapped a picture of Jed, so he will go faceless in this pictorial wrap-up. Sorry, Jed!)
This was taken at the Q&A after Todd’s Friday afternoon screening of the wondrous THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE.
So, I didn’t get any pictures from my actual screening, but it seemed to go well. If I can be completely honest, I wasn’t that into the film this time around. Not that I think it’s bad or anything like that, because I know I’ve watched it with an audience when it worked better than I ever could have imagined. It was just a kinda dull screening. These things happen. Point being: NEVER WATCH YOUR MOVIE MORE THAN ONCE OR TWICE WITH A CROWD. There’s absolutely no point, it will only end in heartbreak. But it was amazing to have my parents there, as well as my sisters Carol and Karen (and my boss/bro-in-law/poet-extraordinaire Eric), as well as old high school friends, as well as old college friends, as well as a bunch of newfound filmmaker friends who were finally able to check it out. As for the guy in the picture above, that is Jeff. He owns Holy Frijoles in Hampden, and just bought another establishment with Buck (see below). The funny thing is, I don’t call Jeff ‘Jeff.’ I call him by his last name. Only I don’t know how to spell his last name and I hate misspelling names. It’s Danyck. Or Danyk. Or something like that. Sorry, Jeff.
If the name Dave Lahn sounds familiar (he’s the dude on the left), that’s because he’s the brilliant editor of COCAINE ANGEL. Dave saved my life and made editing the film an absolute blast. I hope to be working with him for many, many years to come. He’s also a filmmaker who sees the world through a truly original set of eyes. I one day hope to be in a position to help him realize one of his own twisted, brilliant visions. He’s joined in this photo by my good friend Alan Randall.
Here are the co-owners of Hampden’s soon-to-be legendary Rocket to Venus, Jeff and Buck. The title comes from a newspaper clipping in ‘50s-era Bal’more in which several teenagers tried to build an actual rocket that would shoot them to… yes, you guessed it… Venus. If you’ve spent time in Baltimore, or watched John Waters films, this might make more sense. It’s so Hampden that it’s a perfect name for the bar.
This is the interior of the bar, which is a huge, huge space, but which clearly needs a huge, huge amount of work. Good luck, boys. I hope to be drinking there by Labor Day.
Friday night, I abandoned my festival friends in order to have a full-on Baltimore night like we used to do back in the 20th Century. The Oranges Band played at The Talking Head, and they were their typically great selves.
On the left is director Chris Sheridan, who’s just about to introduce his film, ABDUCTION: THE MEGUMI YOKOTA STORY, with MFF’s Dan Krovich. How I didn’t manage to get a picture of Chris with his wife and filmmaking partner Patty Kim is beyond me, but I never claimed to be a professional photo blogger (thank Christ for that). Chris and Patty’s film is gut-wrenching and devastating and it brought tears to my eyes several times. While superficially it differs from CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS, I couldn’t help but make the comparison. Both films are harrowing puzzles that become more convoluted as they unfold, taking audiences on a journey that they won’t soon forget. Once again, I wonder where the distributors are. How has this not been picked up???
During the festival, I buddied up with former New York Press critic-turned-documentary filmmaker Godfrey Cheshire. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to catch his work-in-progress, because I had to head up to NYC early Sunday for Jesse and Julia’s big wedding. Here, Godfrey and Todd wait to get ABDUCTED.
Being the typically awful son that I am, I hadn’t gotten anything for my mom for Mother’s Day. But thanks to the Maryland Film Festival, I turned out to deliver one of the best presents ever! When it comes to hobbies and interests, my mom doesn’t have any outside the realm of her children and grandchildren. Except for the Baltimore Orioles. Huh? Seriously, my mom is an Orioles freakazoid. So when I surprised her with the best seats EVER to Saturday’s game against the Royals, I turned into the best son ever. It really was a day of perfection. Perfect weather, and the O’s won 11-1.
Robyn and Rory introduced us to the LA way of watching baseball: breeze into the stadium during the 7th inning stretch. Talk about laiddddd backkkkk.
Here’s a picture of me with my roommates. On the left is my boy “Dad,” in the middle is my homegirl “Mom,” and on the right is yours truly, “Kareem Abdul Godard.” (Seriously, I’m thinking of adopting that as my professional name. What do you think?)
Though our seats were great (thirteenth row), the Luna crew had even better ones. In the middle of the frame, front row, is Luna guitarist Sean Eden (brown jacket). Like I told him later that night, Luna is the band that I have seen the most times without actually knowing anyone in the band. But now that I know Sean and Lee (who’s in the skull cap two seats to the right of Sean), I can’t say that anymore. Then again, they’re no longer a band, so I’m too confused to figure out what that means right now. (Bonus: check out Bewersdorf in the teal shirt right behind Sean).
Later that night, it was time to get ready for the primetime screening of THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE. Here, Sheila Scullin (who plays Sadie), Ivan Dimitrov (who plays Sadie’s maniacal dad, Ivan), and Todd pre-game across the street with a ton of other cast and crew members.
For every lackluster screening that a film has, there are those miraculous screenings that can single-handedly redeem and justify all the hard work. Todd was fortunate enough to have one of those Saturday night, and I was fortunate enough to be there to appreciate it. Days beforehand, Todd and I had just about come to the final conclusion that getting a 35mm print made with Dolby Surround was completely irrelevant and unnecessary, given the state of projection that we had confronted at festivals up to that point. But then you find a theatre that has a huge screen and a stellar sound system and… wow. It really can’t get better than that screening. The theatre was packed, the crowd was riveted and completely engaged throughout, and the film looked and sounded UNBELIEVABLE. It’s a tragedy that no distributors were in attendance for that screening, because if they had been, they would have realized just how marketable THE GUATEMALAN HANDSHAKE is. And I’m talking a wide demographic. Old people. Young people. Artists. Regular Joes. It was like a microcosm of America, like the film itself. And it worked soooooo incredibly well.
Matthew Buzzell was kind enough to host Saturday night’s after-after party in his hotel room, where everyone was unable to talk about anything but B. Radical and his must-be-seen-to-be-believed opening night short, THE PACKAGE (or as I like to call it, “The Last Boy Scout meets Trapped in the Closet”). B. Radical will have a three-picture deal before I’ll have my credit cards paid off, mark my words. I captured some video footage of Kevin Bewersdorf ‘performing a trick,’ which Joe plans on editing into a little short and posting on the LOL website in the near future (www.lolthemovie.com, where you can also read Joe’s funky-fresh MFF wrap-up).
Sadly, I had to wake up and leave early Sunday in order to get to Brooklyn in time for Jesse and Julia’s wedding, so I missed the festival’s last day. But regardless, I had an incredible time and would like to thank Jed, Skizz, and Dan for including COCAINE ANGEL in their top-notch program. It looks like I won’t have a film ready to present by next year’s festival (or will I???), but even if I don’t, you can bet your bippy that I’ll be there to soak in the fun.
Lastly, for you true Boredom at its Boredest diehards, click on the following link to see pictures from Sunday’s wedding: