The fourth annual Annapolis Film Festival, March 31-April 3, 2016, will present a critically acclaimed lineup of narrative and documentary feature and short films from 22 countries, including an Academy Award nominee and selections fresh from Sundance and SXSW. The venues for the 70+ films are all in downtown Annapolis and within walking distance of each other. Guests may also catch a free City Circulator trolley to see some of the best new releases.
Christopher Walken’s sardonically witty comedy, One More Time, will open the festival at the United States Naval Academy’s Mitscher Hall*. Director Robert Edwards and Producer Ferne Pearlstein will be in attendance. Walken plays a faded crooner sulking in his Hamptons mansion over the professional acclaim that has eluded him and the trail of romantic wreckage left in his wake. Matters are complicated when daughter Jude (Amber Heard) arrives with her own problems, including a rivalry with her overachieving sister, a ruinous love life, and a fraught relationship with her famous father.
Special showcases will include the African-American Experience with panel discussion on Friday and our Sunday morning block of Jewish-themed films with bagels for breakfast. Friday’s Environmental Showcase includes a feature and two riveting shorts with a panel discussion. Other film topics include sailing, transgender issues, global politics, health and education. Countries represented include France, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Canada, the Central African Republic, and Chile and many other places in between.
This year’s festival screening venues April 1-3 include Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, St. John’s College – Key Auditorium, Asbury United Methodist Church on West Street, St. Anne’s Parish Hall and Annapolis Elementary School. All venues seat a minimum of 225 people.
Some of the full-length features and documentaries in our 70+ film line-up are included below. A full list can be found on the AFF website (www.annapolisfilmfestival.com):
Driving While Black, directed by Paul Sapiano. Dimitri barely makes ends meet, delivering pizzas, when he is offered a dream job driving a Hollywood tour bus. . He’s just trying to get through L.A. traffic, but at nearly every turn he’s stopped and questioned by the police. With wry comedic insight and empathy, this timely film enumerates the black experience in everyday interactions with the police.
I Dream Too Much, directed by Katie Cokinos. Recent college graduate Dora finds herself caring for her reclusive great aunt in snowy upstate New York. When she discovers her aunt’s hidden romantic past, Dora dreams that their revelation will pull her and Aunt Vera from their mutual depressions.
Little Miss Perfect, directed by Marlee Roberts. When Belle, an over-achieving high school freshman, stumbles upon an online subculture promoting eating disorders cracks begin to appear in her seemingly perfect life. As she slips deeper into this insidious world, she fights to regain control.
Marguerite, directed by Xavier Giannoli. Parisian society wife Marguerite Dumont has devoted her entire life to studying opera. Her friends suffer through her private recitals unable to tell her the truth, that’s she’s completely tone-deaf. When a young journalist publishes a tongue-in-cheek rave of her latest performance, Marguerite decides to launch her public career.
Mustang, Academy Award-nominee for Best Foreign Film, directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven. In Northern Turkey five teenaged sisters play innocently with their male classmates. A neighbor reports their “illicit” behavior and their family reacts by subjecting them to endless preparations for arranged marriage and domesticity. As the eldest sisters are married off, the younger ones bond together to avoid the same fate.
The Waiting, directed by Kasra Farahani. The experiment started with such a simple idea: if you had the equipment and ambition, could you convince another person that he or she was being haunted? A strained friendship and a thirst for glory push two teenage boys (Logan Miller, Keir Gilchrist) to cross moral and legal lines to wreak supernatural havoc on their elderly neighbor (James Caan).
The Bad Kids, directed by Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe. Every student at Black Rock Continuation High School in the Mojave Desert has fallen so far behind in credits that none has hope of earning a diploma at a traditional school. Black Rock is the last chance for the three students profiled in this sobering documentary. This is featured in AFF’s Education Showcase, which is sponsored by the Carol M. Jacobsohn Foundation.
Baddddd Sonia Sanchez, directed by Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Sabrina Schmidt Gordon. The centerpiece of the African American Experience Showcase, this film tells the story of 80-year-old Sonia Sanchez, who emerged as a seminal figure in the 1960s Black Arts Movement, raising her voice in the name of black culture, civil rights, women’s liberation, and peace. Delving into the life’s work of a woman deemed “a lion in literature’s forest” by poet Maya Angelou, this documentary examines Sanchez’s poetry and her singular role in African American culture. This Showcase is sponsored by Dr. Alyson Hall/The Glaucoma Center.
The C Word. Directed by Meghan O’Hara, a filmmaker and cancer survivor who wants to change the way we think about cancer. Backed by personal experiences and the scientific validation of Dr. David Servan-Schreiber, O’Hara asks us to reconsider how the West currently deals with cancer and advocates, instead, for society-wide lifestyle changes
From This Day Forward. When director Sharon Shattuck’s father came out as transgender, Sharon was in middle school. Her father’s transition to female was difficult for her straight-identified mother to accept, but the marriage endured. As the family reunites to plan Sharon’s wedding, she seeks a deeper understanding of how they survived the changes that threatened to tear them apart.
Out to Win. Director, Malcolm Ingram’s latest work examines the lives and careers of aspiring and professional gay and lesbian athletes from all over the world. Featuring interviews with Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Jason Collins, and more, the film highlights the experiences of athletes who have fought — both in and out of the closet — to represent the LGBT community and their true selves.
Vanishing Sail. Directed by Alexis Andrews. One of the last shipwrights in the Grenadines, Alwyn Enoe practices a trade passed down the generations from the original Scottish settlers who arrived on the islands in the 19th century. Approaching his 70s and with no more orders coming in, he decides to build one last wooden sailing sloop, with the hope that his sons will continue the trade.
Tickets cost from $12.50 for a single film block to $115 ($105 before March 1) for a festival pass. The pass includes the Opening Night film and After Party and unlimited films and panels for four days. Student and senior tickets are $10.
Passes are available now at www.annapolisfilmfestival.com; tickets for films and individual events will be available from March 1. Check the website for times and locations of all events and screenings. Up to the minute changes in schedule can be followed on the AFF Facebook Fanpage (www.facebook.com/annapolisfilmfestival) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/annapolisff).