Annapolis Film Festival: Featured synopses

| March 7, 2015 | 0 Comments

AFF2015For the third year, the Annapolis Film Festival (AFF) will bring a taste of Hollywood to the Chesapeake with an incredible line up of independent feature, shorts and documentary films. The Festival takes place March 26 to 29, 2015, in downtown Annapolis. Moviegoers can stroll from venue to venue or catch a free City Circulator trolley to see some of the world’s smartest and edgiest just-released films.

Opening Night at St. John’s Key Auditorium kicks off the Festival. With Loews Annapolis Hotel as Festival Central Asbury United Methodist Church on West Street as ticket central, and O’Callaghan’s Hotel as the main venue for Panels and Workshops, the Festival screening venues include Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, St. John’s College – Key Auditorium, St. Anne’s Parish Hall and Annapolis Elementary School. All venues seat a minimum of 225 people.

Special showcases will include films about the African-American, Jewish and LGBT experience, and the Student Showcase which will feature 12 shorts. Other film topics include sailing, comedies, veterans, mental health, global politics, world cinema and conversations with surprise industry guests.

“Coffee Talks with…” is an intimate opportunity for VIP pass holders to hear behind-the-scenes talk about the business of directing, acting and producing. These breakfasts with muffins and coffee take place at Crush Winehouse, 9-10 am, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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The full-length features and documentaries (confirmed to date) in our 70 film line up are:

Narrative Features:

Adventures in Comedy, directed by Tom McCaffrey. This mockumentary shows the cut-throat world of stand-up comedy and follows the struggles one comic faces as he gives his dream one last shot.

Appropriate Behavior, directed by Desiree Akhavan. Shirin struggles to become an ideal Persian daughter, a politically correct bisexual and a hip young Brooklynite. But she’s not quite Persian enough, not quite gay enough, not quite anything enough. After being dumped by her girlfriend, this endearingly superficial narcissist plots to win back her ex.

Behind Closed Doors, directed by Audrey Estrougo. Nathalie is a 30-something Parisian with a simple and joyous life. She likes her job, adores her colleagues and is about to move in with the man she loves. But one night, a lift home from a co-worker ends in a terrifying event that changes everything.

Felix and Meira, directed by Maxime Giroux. Felix is an eccentric French Canadian, who has devoted his life to rebellion against his wealthy family. Meira is a young Hasidic mother burdened with the feeling that something essential is missing from life. A quirky love story set against the backdrop of Jewish Montreal.

Five Star, directed by Keith Miller. Gang leader, Primo, has been a member of the Bloods since the age of 12. John, a fatherless teen, grapples with entering this life while Primo decides whether to leave it all behind. Distinctions between fiction and real life are left intentionally ambiguous.

Gabriel, directed by Lou Howe. Rory Culkin delivers an electrifying performance as Gabriel, a troubled young man, convinced that reuniting with his first love will bring him the stability and happiness he craves.

Little Accidents, directed by Sarah Colangelo. A teenage boy goes missing in a small town devastated by a recent mining accident and three strangers are drawn together in a tangle of secrets, lies and collective grief.

Midnight Sun, (U.S. Premiere) directed by Roger Spottiswoode. Director of High Arctic scenes, Brando Quilici. Set amongst the ice fields of Northern Canada, a young boy defies nature to reunite an abandoned polar bear cub with its mother.

The Mystery of Happiness, directed by Daniel Burman. This romantic comedy features Santiago and Eugenio who are inseparable friends and business partners enjoying everything life has to offer. When Eugenio suddenly disappears, Santiago reluctantly engages Eugenio’s neurotic wife in the search.

Night Has Settled, directed by Steve Clark. In 1983, Oliver Nicholas (age 13) is poised to enter the precocious teenage world of first-sex, vodka and possible love in New York City. When an unexpected trauma occurs, what was supposed to be an exhilarating rite of passage becomes skewed by an incomprehensible depression, and a house of interior horrors.

Runoff, directed by Kimberly Levin. The beauty of the land cannot mask the brutality of a farm town. Matriarch Betty (Joanne Kelly, TV’s Hostages) confronts some harsh realities and meets the challenge when presented with an illegal but well-compensated job offer.

Secrets of War, directed by Dennis Botts. Tuur and Lambert are best friends in a Nazi-occupied Dutch village. When Maartje joins their class, the young girl stands out as different from her classmates and they form a unique bond with her based on adventures, mischief and shared confidences. Ultimately, the realities of war reveal secrets that threaten to tear the friends apart, with devastating consequences.

Set Fire to the Stars, directed by Andy Goddard. Elijah Wood stars as the neurotic and artistic college professor John M. Brinnin who, in 1950, brings Dylan Thomas (Ceylin Jones) to New York for a now-famous tour, praying he can successfully keep his hell raising hero out of jail long enough to make it to the stage.

Wildlike, directed by Frank Hall Green. Mackenzie (age 14) flees to the Alaskan wilderness, helpless and alone, when the safety and trust of family is suddenly ripped away from her. A chance connection with a loner backpacker offers the key to her survival.

The Zero Theorem, directed by Terry Gilliam. Christoph Walz, two-time Academy award winner for Django Unchained and Inglorious Bastards, stars in this movie from legendary director Terry Gilliam as an eccentric and reclusive computer genius plagued with existential angst.

Documentaries:

Above and Beyond, directed by Roberta Grossman. Just three years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps, a group of Jewish American pilots secretly smuggled planes out of the U.S. They trained behind the Iron Curtain and flew for Israel in its War of Independence helping turn the tide of the war. This tells about their personal journeys of discovery and renewed Jewish pride.

All American High Revisited, directed by Keva Rosenfeld. In 1984, a time of legwarmers, neon and Aqua Net, a young filmmaker sets out to document the life of a typical high school student. This honest and humorous look at 80’s teen life is told through the eyes of a visiting exchange student. Thirty years later, the film’s original subjects return in All American High Revisisted to look back at one of the most memorable times in their lives.

Angkor’s Children, directed by Lauren Shaw. Rising from poverty and genocide, three young Cambodian women are turning the 30-year killing fields legacy of Cambodia on its head. Breaking from their traditional roles, a singer, a contortionist and a leader of a grassroots protest band embrace the struggle to overcome hardship through creative expression.

Back on Board: Greg Louganis, directed by Cheryl Furjanic is a candid glimpse into the life of four-time Olympic champion, Greg Louganis, chronicling his rise from a difficult upbringing to his pioneering role as an openly gay athlete with HIV.

Burden of Peace, directed by Joey Boink follows Guatemala’s first female Attorney General, Claudia Paz y Paz as she battles the system, sacrificing everything to bring justice to those responsible for a devastating civil war in which nearly 200,000 Mayan Indians were systematically massacred.

The Circle, directed by Stefan Haupt. Revolving around The Circle, an underground gay publication in Zurich in the 40s and 50s, this docudrama tells the story of Ernst Ostertag, a schoolteacher, and Robi Rapp, a drag entertainer who meet as fellow writers and activists and enter a lifelong romantic relationship.

Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi, directed by Neal Broffman. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, social media speculation transforms a missing college student into a wanted terrorist. Within a matter of hours e-vigilantes control the news as journalists spread the web of lies and suspicion further. Fear, suspicion and accusation rain down in this exclusive and intimate story of the enduring love that unites a family in crisis.

Homestretch, directed by Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly. Three homeless teenagers brace Chicago winters, the pressure of high school and life alone on the streets to build a brighter future. Against all odds, these kids defy stereotypes as they create new, surprising definitions of home

In an Ideal World, directed by Noel Schwerin, follows a warden, a white separatist and a black gangbanger for seven years as they struggle to move beyond the stark reality of America’s locked down racial order.

In Country, directed by Mike Attie & Meghan O’Hara. In the Oregon woods a battle wages on as a “platoon” of hardcore Vietnam War re-enactors relive a war so many have tried to forget. A weave of verité footage, flashbacks and archival footage, the film blurs boundaries to shed light on America’s relationship with war and its veterans.

JFK & LBJ A Time for Greatness, directed by Alastair Layzell. At first glance, Lyndon Johnson was a Texan who shared all the bigotry and hatred of his fellow southern senators. But his actions in the White House told a different story when he dared to champion two laws that changed America and the world – the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Now, fifty years later, a new film sheds light on the fascinating story of a president who knew how to harness the nation’s revulsion at JFK’s brutal assassination, twist arms and get his way. Including personal testimony, rarely seen footage and never before heard secret White House recordings.

Meet The Patels, directed by Geeta Patel and Ravi Patel, is a laugh-out-loud real life romantic comedy about Ravi Patel, an almost-30-year-old Indian-American who enters a love triangle between the woman of his dreams … and his parents.

Mudbloods, directed by Farzad Sangari follows the resilient underdogs of the UCLA Quidditch team as they help transform Harry Potter’s fictional sport into a real-life phenomenon.

Murder of a Movie, directed by David Ewing. A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the controversial 1967 political satire, The President’s Analyst. The film begins with a delightful look at director Ted Flicker’s early career in comedy and experimental theater with Chicago’s nascent Second City. Weeks after the release of The President’s Analyst, it was abruptly removed from theaters, not to be seen again for years. Unravel the conspiracy theories with David Ewing’s in-depth what happens when the conflicting agendas of Hollywood and the FBI are played out during the turbulent 1960’s. (USA, 2015, 59 min., Documentary Feature)

The Outrageous Sophie Tucker, directed by William Gazecki. The last of the Red Hot Mamas, she captivated audiences with her bold, bawdy style and influenced many top performers, notably Bette Midler.

The President’s Analyst, directed by Theodor J. Flicker. Psychiatrist Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn) is recruited to serve as the new analyst for the loneliest man alive – the President of the United States. The madness that ensues in this new position (as well as his dangerous habit of talking in his sleep) provokes Schaefer to run for his life with the powers-that-be in hot pursuit. In 1968, Roger Ebert declared this “one of the funniest movies of the year.”

Red Dot on the Ocean: The Matt Rutherford Story, directed by Amy Flannery. Annapolitan Matt Rutherford’s death-defying, never-done-before, 27,000 mile, non-stop polar circumnavigation of the Americas in a scrappy 27 foot sailboat.

Shored Up, directed by Ben Kalina.Our beaches and coastline are a national treasure and a shared resource…and now they are disappearing in front of us. This film takes us to the heart of the climate change controversy where politics, economics and science collide.

Song from the Forest, directed by Michael Obert. Louis Sarno heard a song on the radio 25 years ago and followed its melody into the Central African jungle where he became part of the community. When he brings his pygmy son back to America, he realizes the globalized world is threatening the songs of the jungle.

The Special Need, directed by Carlo Zoratti. Enea is 29, autistic, and living in Italy. His search for physical love is anything but easy. His journey with his two best friends, Carlo and Alex, to find a sexual partner quickly becomes the chance for the friends to explore their own ideas of love, friendship and freedom.

Two Raging Grannies, directed by Håvard Bustnes. Touching and thought-provoking, this challenges the idea that we must continue to shop, consume, amass, and keep the economy growing. Two funny and courageous seniors visit cities and towns across the US to question everyone from the homeless to Wall Street tycoons about the sustainability of continued economic growth.

Waiting for August, directed by Teodora Mihai. Fifteen year-old Georgiana is catapulted into the role of head of the family after her mother is forced to work abroad to get by.

Annapolis Film Festival adult tickets are $12; senior and student tickets are $8. The four-day Festival Passes are currently $95 but will increase to $105 March 1. Four-day student passes are $40. All four-day passes includes the Opening Night film, the After Party and unlimited films and panel discussions. One-day festival passes are available for $40.

Festival Passes can be purchased at www.annapolisfilmfestival.com.   There are a limited number of passes available, once sold out, they are gone. Tickets will be available online after March 1st when the full schedule is released on the website. Visit the website at

www.annapolisfilmfestival.com for times and locations of all events. Up-to-the-minute changes in schedule can be followed on the AFF Facebook Fanpage and Twitter.   For more information subscribe to our weekly e-blast by signing up on the website.

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John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news--and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009. John's background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.