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Here’s the Lineup and Synopses for the 9th Annual Annapolis Film Festival

| March 26, 2021, 09:16 AM


The ninth annual Annapolis Film Festival runs virtually for ten days, April 8-18, 2021. Each night there will be a premiere of a Spotlight film at 7:00 PM, beginning with the Opening Night film, Marvelous and the Black Hole starring actors Rhea Perlman and Miya Cech.

“This year’s opening night film Marvelous and the Black Hole, right off its Sundance premiere, brings a bit of magic to our program (literally),” says Patti White, Festival Director and Co-Founder.

With heart and humor, it tells the story of a rebellious teenage girl (played by Miya Cech from the current tv show The Astronauts) dealing with the loss of her mother and then bonding with an eccentric magician (“Marvelous Margot” played by Rhea Perlman, the Emmy-winning actress from the classic tv show Cheers) who helps her to reconnect with life and joy. It’s a story of being lost and found.

“This was easily one of our favorite films from this year’s Sundance Film Festival,” says Derek Horne, Director of Programming. “And it is exactly the type of marvelous and uplifting film that can help all of us to heal after the black hole of 2020”

“This year’s festival has expanded to 10 days for its virtual presentation to allow for a better user experience this year,” says Lee Anderson, Festival Director and Co-Founder. “It is all accessible on OTT devices with ROKU, AppleTV and Amazon Fire if you have a smart TV, otherwise you can view on your laptop.”

“This year, more films, means more Spotlight films than ever,” says Horne. “Spotlight films are high-profile films that feature famous actors or celebrities or have won awards at other festivals,” adds White.

This year’s program contains over 100 films (23 feature-length narrative films; 17 feature-length documentaries; 66 short films). The films come from 35 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Czech Rep., Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Macedonia, Malta, Mauritania, Nigeria, Norway, Palestine, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, UK, and USA.

“We are so grateful to the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County who is our Presenting Sponsor for the 2021 Annapolis Film Festival,” says Anderson, “They have done so much to help artists and arts organizations through this pandemic, without them, we wouldn’t be here.” The schedule of Spotlight Films are as follows:

Thursday Night, April 8 – Marvelous and the Black Hole
This charming family comedy premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and stars Miya Cech (from the current TV show The Astronauts) as an angry and rebellious teenage girl dealing with the loss of her mother. She then meets an eccentric magician, played by Rhea Perlman (from the classic TV show Cheers) who helps her to reconnect with life and joy. The poignant and profound script was written by the director Kate Tsang, who has garnered Emmy-nominations and Student Academy Award nominations for her previous work, and who won a $1 Million grant from AT&T towards the making of this film. There will be a pre-recorded Q&A following the screening.

Friday Night, April 9 – The Perfect Candidate
This inspiring drama is directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, the first Saudi woman to direct a feature film, which was the acclaimed film Wadjda) and it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2019, was an Opening Night selection of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, and it was the official submission to the Oscars from Saudi Arabia. It’s a political parable about a young female doctor in Saudi Arabia who decides to run for the local city elections much to the chagrin of the community that struggles to accept their town’s first female candidate. The film would have made its East Coast premiere at Annapolis last year until Covid-19 interfered. It won the Audience Award at the Florida Film Festival.

Saturday Night, April 10 – Together Together
This heart-warming dramedy directed by Nikole Beckwith premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and stars Ed Helms (The Hangover, The Office) as a 40-something year old man who hires a young woman (played by comedian Patti Harrison) as a gestational surrogate and their relationship challenges their perceptions of love. Following the screening, there will be a pre-recorded Q&A with director Nikole Beckwith and NY film critic and WOR radio host, Joe Neumaier.

Sunday Night, April 11 – Paper Spiders
This gripping drama directed by Inon Shampanier stars Lili Taylor as a mentally unstable woman who begins to spiral when her daughter (played by Stefania Owen) prepares to leave home to go to college. The film has won several awards at film festivals last fall including four awards at the Boston Film Festival. Following the screening there will be an interactive mental health panel sponsored by Oasis: The Center for Mental Health in Annapolis and viewers can type in questions via a chat window.

Monday Night, April 12 – Best Summer Ever
A fresh and exhilarating take on the beloved teen musical genre featuring eight original songs and a fully integrated cast and crew of people with and without disabilities.

Tuesday Night, April 13 – Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide
This documentary about the colorful life and art of Kenny Scharf is co-directed by Max Basch and Malia Scharf (Kenny’s daughter). Along with his friends Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf grew from a graffiti artist into a major force in the 1980’s NYC art scene, eventually having his giant painting When Worlds Collide bought for a record sum by the Whitney Museum. Following the screening there will be a pre-recorded Q&A with the filmmakers and Derek Horne, the Director of Programming.

Wednesday Night, April 14 – The Outside Story
This feel-good comedy stars the Tony and Emmy award-nominated actor Brian Tyree Henry (best known for his role as rapper Alfred ‘Paper Boi’ Miles in the Emmy-winning and Golden-Globe winning TV series Atlanta) as an introverted film editor who locks himself out of his apartment and is forced to interact
with the outside world and strangers (all played by a talented ensemble of actors who each shine in their unique, idiosyncratic roles.) There will be a pre-recorded Q&A following the screening.

Thursday Night, April 15 – Materna
This compelling psychological drama directed by David Gutnik tells the stories of four women whose lives are intertwined by an incident on the New York City subway. The four unique vignettes are beautifully shot and feature powerful acting performances which has garnered the film numerous awards at festivals including Best Cinematography and Best Acting at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and also Special Jury Prizes for Best Ensemble Cast at the 2020 Bend Film festival and 2020 Denver Film Festival. There will be a pre-recorded Q&A following the screening.

Friday Night, April 16 – How To Be A Good Wife
This stylish and satirical period piece set in the 1960’s in France stars Juliette Binoche as a Paulette, a poised woman who runs a finishing school for girls at a time of great social upheaval when she, her staff, and her students must all confront the sexual revolution and women’s liberation movements. The film is nominated for several César Awards (the French Oscar) this year and won the César for Best Costume Design.

Saturday Night, April 17 – Luzzu
This gorgeously shot and powerfully acted film from Malta won a Special Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The title refers to the name of the colorful painted traditional fishing boats used in the Maltese Islands, as a young fisherman struggles to make an honest living for his young wife and newborn child while being lured into the more profitable black-market fishing industry.

Liquified Creative Annapolis

AFF’s annual Showcases will play at various times throughout the schedule.

The Jewish Experience:

Thou Shalt Not Hate – The son of a Holocaust survivor who lives in Trieste as a surgeon begins to doubt his actions of refusing to help a victim of a traffic accident that he encountered on his way home from work.
Kiss Me Kosher – A love story between clashing cultures and families. A romantic misadventure crossing all borders. When two generations of Israeli women fall for a German woman and a Palestinian man, chaos follows. What happens with lovers who don’t seem to fit by society’s standards but definitely belong together?

The African American Experience:

River City Drumbeat (preceded by A Concerto is a Conversation) – A powerful story of music, love, and legacies, told by the members of a Black youth drum corps in Louisville, Kentucky. When the founder steps down, a young alum whose life was saved by the drumline rises to mentor the next generation in the face of systemic injustices.

The Environmental Showcase:

End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock (preceded by Water Walker) – Indigenous women unite to stop the oil pipeline that threatens their land, water, and very existence.
Fish & Men – This documentary exposes the high cost of cheap fish and the forces threatening local fishing communities and public health by revealing how consumer demand drives the global seafood economy. Do you know where your seafood is from?

The Sailing Showcase:

Features the adventure documentary film, Race to Alaska about a sailing race setin one of the most complex waterways in the world, many will succumb against winds, currents, whirlpools, fear and fatigue as both character and watercraft are tested. Followed by a Q&A with Gary Jobson.

“This is the tip of the iceberg, we also have nine shorts programs and many other great films,…there is truly something for everyone,” Anderson claims. “It’s there for the taking, so we encourage our audience and film fans to dive in and enjoy the experience, “ adds White.

Passes allow for unlimited viewing to over 100+ films and are currently $115 per household. Individual tickets will be $10 each and four-packs will be $35. A Shorts Pass is available to nine shorts programs for $50. Check out the “How to Fest” page on the website. To find out more visit: www.annapolisfilmfestival.org. For more information contact the Annapolis Film Festival  at [email protected] or at 410-263-3444.

And to get some more inside scoop, have a listen to the podcast we did with the festival directors, Lee Anderson and Patti White!

Severn Bank

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