More titles scheduled for this year's Maryland Film Festival are trickling out, and this next batch of 10 titles includes the latest from festival favorite Bobcat Goldthwait, a documentary on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the new Alex Winter documentary on the Silk Road online marketplace (note: our critic was not too wild about that last one when it screened at South By Southwest).
Below are the 10 new films, with plot descriptions provided by the festival, which takes place May 6-10 at various locations. Here's a link to the first batch.
"The Amina Profile" (Sophie Deraspe) Two women, Sandra in Montreal and Amina in Syria, meet online, and begin a flirtatious relationship that quickly turns serious. When Amina begins to blog as "A Gay Girl in Damascus," she garners international attention as an outspoken representative of a marginalized community. Then Sandra hears that Amina has been kidnapped—and, in this fascinating documentary fueled by mystery, politics, and sexuality, she must examine how much about Amina she truly knows.
"Beats of the Antonov" (Hajooj Kuka) War reporter and documentary filmmaker Hajooj Kuka takes viewers into the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountain regions of South Sudan, where we meet displaced South Sudanese who live under the constant threat of bombardment from the Sudanese military via Antonov cargo planes. But defying familiar victim narratives, Kuka's camera finds resilient people that summon strength and positivity from music, laughter, and a determination to maintain their culture against any odds.
"Call Me Lucky" (Bobcat Goldthwait) Since the 1980s, Barry Crimmins has established himself as a comedian's comedian, armed with a rapid-fire technique and a scathing political perspective aimed at shocking American audiences out of their complacency—even as he never quite gets the respect he deserves. Peers like Margaret Cho and Marc Maron join documentarian Bobcat Goldthwait in paying tribute to Crimmins' many contributions to the comedy community and political activism over the decades.
"Christmas, Again" (Charles Poekel) Noel (Kentucker Audley) sells Christmas trees off a lot in New York, living a quiet and solitary life in the camper that anchors the site. As Christmas nears, a mysterious woman lands in Noel's life, and tries to find a way into the closed-off, emotionally blocked world he's constructed. Beautiful Super 16 mm cinematography and unforgettable performances from Audley and Hannah Gross yield a moving character study of quiet, gentle humanism.
"Deep Web" (Alex Winter) With "Downloaded" (MFF 2013), Alex Winter established himself as an expert at illuminating complex issues at the intersection of the internet and legality—and giving audiences intimate access to the personalities at the center of his story. "Deep Web" excitingly confirms that status, turning its lens on the online black market Silk Road, and digging deep into the story of Ross Ulbricht, the man accused of being the site's creator and moderator, "Dread Pirate Roberts."
"God Bless the Child" (Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck) Four brothers spend a day on their own in Davis, California, with their 13-year-old sister forced to look after them as best she can in the absence of their troubled and unreliable mother. This visually stunning experimental drama, which premiered at SXSW, turns an unflinching eye on the behavior of children in the absence of adults, with results at turns hilarious, awkward, poignant, and unnerving.
"Prophet's Prey" (Amy Berg) The director of "Deliver Us From Evil" and "West of Memphis" takes us deep into another explosive story, that of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Exploring allegations of sexual abuse, family expulsions, forced marriages, and other horrors, this Sundance-premiered documentary paints an unforgettable portrait of conformity, fear, and oppression.
"Two Shots Fired" (Martin Rejtman) Veteran Argentine filmmaker Martin Rejtman brings his unique deadpan sensibility to the story of a 16-year-old who finds a gun in his house. He shoots himself out of boredom—but, after a near-miss with death, finds that the major change in his life is an annoying whistle in his chest, sabotaging the music he makes with an amateur recorder quartet. A disloyal dog, a strange vacation, and a bizarre cast of characters add up to a quietly anarchic comedy that channels Aki Kaurismäki and Roy Andersson's "A Swedish Love Story" as it refuses to play by conventional narrative rules.
"Uncle Kent 2" (Todd Rohal) Kent Osborne, the mild-mannered animator whose mundane daily routines and love life fueled Joe Swanberg's Uncle Kent, is desperate to make a sequel—an idea that excites precisely no one else. But when Swanberg gives Osborne his blessing to take the idea elsewhere, things takes a decidedly warped turn, as MFF favorite Todd Rohal takes over at the helm, steering the film deep into the realm of psychotronic dark comedy.
"Western" (Bill and Turner Ross) In the neighboring towns of Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Mexico, a rugged cattleman and a populist mayor navigate changing times as the specters of cartel violence and xenophobia threaten harmonious cultural and economic exchanges between the U.S. and Mexico. Marked by muggy days and thunderous nights, this evocative and immersive documentary from the directors of "45365" and "Tchoupitoulas" delivers a thrilling mix of fascinating characters, riveting narrative, and extraordinary sensory detail.