Film festival seeks 'in your face' projects Subversive: Local filmmaker Skizz Cyzyk seeks ambitious underground films to include in MicroCineFest.

August 14, 1998|By Ann Hornaday | Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC

Baltimore alterna-impresario and filmmaker Skizz Cyzyk will hold MicroCineFest again this fall. Deadline for entries is Aug. 28. Films under 60 minutes should be accompanied by an entry fee of $15; films over 60 minutes should be accompanied by a fee of $25. This year MicroCineFest will move from the Mansion Theatre to screening venues in Fells Point.

"MicroCineFest's mission is to showcase worthwhile underground filmmaking from all over the world," Cyzyk explained. "We're looking for projects that display creativity, originality, entertainment and a wise use of funds...big ambition on little budget." All filmmakers "with a psychotronic/subversive/D.I.Y./ guerrilla sense of filmmaking that's tastefully in your face are encouraged to enter," he added.

For an entry form or more information, call the MicroCineFest hot line at 410-243-5307.

And if Micro says no...

John Waters will be the guest speaker at the second annual Reject Filmfest, a film festival dedicated to, well, rejects. The Philadelphia-based festival was founded by D. Mason Bendewald and Don Argott, whose film "...clayfest" was rejected by last year's Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema.

"I'm speaking at the Reject Filmfest because my earliest films were universally rejected by even the underground cinema movement of the time," Waters explained to the Film Desk this week. "Being hated is sometimes both necessary and sublime."

When the festival made its debut last year, more than 2,000 people came, according to a recent report in the trade publication Variety. More than 100 films will be screened at this year's festival, which will take place Oct. 15-17. All rejects who are interested in submitting films -- or attending -- can call 215-574-0911.

Help out the Heritage

The Heritage Shadows of a Silver Screen African American Film Museum and Cinema opened its doors to the press Tuesday morning. Heritage founder Michael Johnson is working overtime to bring the former Parkway Theatre at 5 West North Ave. back to its original grandeur as a functioning museum and movie theater.

The Heritage will consist of an exhibition hall -- named for the pioneer black actor and Baltimore native Clarence Muse -- and the Midnight Ramble gift shop, which will sell rare videos and promotional items. The Muse Exhibition Hall, which Johnson said should be completed by Sept. 1, will trace the development of African-American film history in the 1900s through posters, photographs and memorabilia.

The second floor of the neo-classical building will comprise another exhibition hall, a concession stand and the 200-seat Howard Rollins Jr. Theatre, named for the actor and Baltimore native who died in 1996.

Although Johnson will receive marketing support from Coca-Cola (which will also have the Heritage soda concession), he has yet to receive financial help from the city.

Johnson estimates that he needs $40,000 to defray the costs of projection equipment and a 25- by 20-foot screen, as well as fixing the building's plumbing and electrical systems and bringing the arched hallways, tiled floors and stately moldings back to their original glory.

"If we were to raise $60,000, we could be up and running for a year before we need to raise more money," he said.

Johnson, who hopes to open the Heritage in November, has embarked on a fund-raising phone-a-thon through Aug. 31. For every phone call made, $10 will be billed to the caller's local telephone bill, $8 of which will go to the Heritage.

To donate money to the phone-a-thon, call 900-933-1155. For more information about the Heritage, call 410-528-8440.

'Detention' gets attention

When Baltimore filmmaker Darryl LeMont Wharton won the director's award at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York on Sunday for his debut feature "Detention," it capped off a stunning run on the festival circuit for the film.

Since making its world premiere at the Pan-African Film Festival in February, "Detention," which Wharton describes as an "urban 'Breakfast Club,' " has received honorable mentions at the Rosebud Film and Video Festival in Washington and Night of Black Independents in Atlanta. It also took the audience award at the Atlanta Film and Video Festival in June.

Wharton has screened "Detention" at the Charles Theatre, most recently during the Cinema Sundays series in June, to enthusiastic response.

The ensemble drama -- about six high school students who find inspiration in one of their teachers -- will be shown again as part of a Rosebud showcase at the Baltimore Museum of Art on Sept. 3. "Louisville" will also be shown.

From there, Wharton will travel to New York with a segment of the movie to show at the Independent Feature Film Market.

In addition to awards, Wharton has received his share of press, including a mention in the New York Times.

But Wharton -- who was a writer for "Homicide" until earlier this summer -- wants to clear up a misconception.

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