You've probably noticed the trend over the past few years: The worse reality has gotten, the more we have turned back to reality for comfort. And we're not just talking about reality TV here, although that's a big part of it. While shows about strangers eating rats have drawn in millions of viewers who five years ago were content with sitcoms, bookstore shelves now groan with nonfiction titles where there used to be novels. And when it comes to cinema, more and more of the buzz coming from film festivals these days can be heard around the release of one documentary or another. Truth is no longer stranger than fiction, which makes it very comforting indeed.
The 2004 Maryland Film Festival certainly bears this out, and City Paper's independent guide to this week's proceedings, Film Fest Frenzy, is here as proof. In addition to our full schedule for MFF '04 (page 12) and our straight-shooting guide to this year's offerings (beginning on page 7), the Frenzy casts a keen eye on some of this festival's most captivating documentary features: Baltimorean Ramona S. Diaz talks about the time she spent with one-time Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos for the making of her film Imelda (page 5); Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky discuss their brush with heavy-metal midlife crisis in filming the recording session-slash-interventions that became Metallica: Some Kind of Monster (page 14); and the people of South Baltimore's Sharp-Leadenhall neighborhood--the city's first African-American enclave but among the last to see the possibility of homeownership--talk about the hard facts behind Sharp-Leadenhall: A Promise to Keep (page 23).
Of course, there's a lot more in the offing at MFF '04 than these little bites of reality. Filmgoers whose taste for the unreal remains intact have plenty of comedy, drama, and animated screenings to choose from. And no matter what you choose to view, everyone will enjoy the ultimate escape from the real world: sitting in the dark next to your friends and neighbors, in front of the flickering haze of the silver screen. Who needs reality when you can have that? Wanna escape for free? Turn to the schedule on page 12, wrap your head around the Film FestFrenzy-related trivia questions listed there, and be the first person to e-mail the correct answers to lgardner@citypaper. com and you'll win an all-access pass to MFF 2004. (Be sure to mention "Film Fest Frenzy Quiz" in the subject line, and please include your name and daytime phone number.)
Film Fest Frenzy 2004 (not affiliated with the Maryland Film Festival) was written by Blake de Pastino, Anna Ditkoff, Edward Ericson Jr., Lee Gardner, Richard Gorelick, Eric Allen Hatch, Tim Hill, Brennen Jensen, Bret McCabe, Erin Sullivan, and Wendy Ward. M. Wartella provided the illustrations. Our thanks, as always, to Jed Dietz, Dan Krovich, and the rest of the hard-working, harried folks at MFF.