A lot can happen in five years in the world of movies. A-list actors can slip off the career summit and topple straight to video. An upstart Hollywood imprint can launch a brave new assault on the box office only to wind up a line-item write-off on some bigger studio's corporate taxes. Five years can take you from first look to bottom of the barrel, from playing ingenues to a plastic surgeon's waiting room.
Of course, five years isn't much to some movie people: documentarians, Quentin Tarantino, whoever edited Meet Joe Black.
The Maryland Film Festival, which takes place May 1-4, turns five this year, and it has weathered the years well. Over the past half decade, the MFF has brought a much welcomed flurry of cinephilia to Baltimore each spring, filling the lobby of the Charles and Senator theaters with hobnobbing filmmakers, film lovers, and assorted hangers-on. And each year, it has justified a May weekend spent in darkened rooms with its mix of buzz-bin bombshells on their way to a theater near you, underexposed indies, documentaries, experimental reels, and, of course, the myriad shorts that often find their only audiences at gatherings such as MFF. In addition, Charm City's fest charms with idiosyncratic touches such as the celebrity-presented classics and the occasional live film score or midnight schlock showing.
Film Fest Frenzy, City Paper's annual guide to the festival, turns five this year as well. Within these pages you will find stories on MFF films, including a controversial documentary about AIDS (page 5), the shock cinema of Gaspar Noe (page 6), and a homegrown doc about that most homegrown of sports, duckpin bowling (page 8), as well as a complete-as-of-press-time schedule (page 11) and our critical-but-affectionate guide to the films being screened (page 15).
And what would Film Fest Frenzy be without a contest? Sprinkled throughout the film blurbs are three imposters. The first person who correctly identifies by title all three ringers in an e-mail sent to firstname.lastname@example.org will win a free all-access pass to MFF 2003. (Employees of City Paper and their families are ineligible.)
But even without a fancy laminate, once again the Maryland Film Festival provides Baltimoreans an excellent excuse to go to the movies--a lot, in a very short period of time. See you at the Charles.
Film Fest Frenzy 2003 (not affiliated with the Maryland Film Festival) was written by Blake de Pastino, Anna Ditkoff, Lee Gardner, Richard Gorelick, Eric Allen Hatch, Brennen Jensen, Heather Joslyn, and Mahinder Kingra. Film Fest Frenzy 2003 title and photographs by Bruce Willen, with apologies to Pablo Ferro. Our thanks, as always, to Jed Dietz, Dan Krovich, and the rest of the hard-working folks at the MFF.