Tonight was the opening night for the annual Maryland Film Festival, held partly at the MICA Brown Center and The Charles Theater just a few minutes from Homewood! It was really exciting, because we (the JHU Film Society) were able to get free tickets for opening night, which cost $50 a pop, through a student package–not to mention discounted tickets to all film screenings! Unfortunately I will only be able to attend one film screening tomorrow (it will most likely be the Berberian Sound Studio, iff I get over my fear of being mugged on my way back to the dorm around midnight), but I’m definitely going to be returning over the years to experience MFF to the fullest!
The opening night was comprised of a variety of short films, which were all quite well made! A couple of my favorites were The Chair and The Cub.
Jujitsu-ing Reality: A documentary shot focusing Scott Lew, a scriptwriter with ALS. Considering how this was a short film, and how much material there must have been that director Chetin Chabuk had/wanted to cover regarding Scott Lew, I think this film did a great job.
The Cub: A supershort, but utterly hilarious and quirky short film. According to Riley Stearns, it only took a half day to film the entire thing. (Fun fact: Mary Elizabeth Winstead was an executive producer of this film.) While the film might not have especially stunning photography, The Cub becomes loveable and memorable through the strength of the writing and the delivery by the actors themselves. The film had a slightly Wes Anderson-esque quality to it because of its hyperformalism and material involved.
Social Butterfly: An interesting film that I personally don’t have too specific of an opinion on, mostly because I had a hard time figuring out what was happening narratively. Quite interesting nonetheless!
Boneshaker: A short film about journeying (to home? from home? we don’t know) and religion (I think?), starring Quvenzhané Wallis. Visually, every shot is lush and spectacular, flaunting the ethereal Southern jungle to the fullest. However one gripe I had with the film is that Quvenzhané doesn’t exactly seem to be doing anything, except maybe being the same person she was in what I’ve seen from Beasts of the Southern Wild. Despite that, though, Boneshaker was a quietly eclectic and resonant film very much worth watching.
The Chair: Probably the best film (in my opinion) of the opening night shorts this year. When the film started, I wasn’t sure what to think of the film because I have a biased dislike toward voiceovers. However I found in this film that the voiceover worked wonderfully–not only because the actor was fantastic at it (and we all know how little effort it takes for voiceovers to become total earaches) but also because the format worked well with the content of the film. The film became a poetic meditation into a boy’s thoughts, with the imagery functioning rather like illustrations in a storybook. But that’s not to degrade the cinematography by any means–it had some of the most stunning shots out of all these films by far, and it was incredibly clear how meticulously arranged each movement of the camera was. Definitely Cannes-worthy.
Flutter: A semi-documentary in the life of a butterfly collector named John. We don’t actually know how much of it is staged and how much of it is real, but there are definitely portions that were either staged or repeated. Interesting, and fascinating, and makes you want to collect butterflies.