April the cooles month for film

Fests: Organizers of the Maryland Film Festival are putting the finishing touches on the schedule of documentaries and features. Start saving your pennies.

April 10, 1999|By Ann Hornaday | Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC

The Maryland Film Festival is close to completing its program, according to organizers Jed Dietz and Gabe Wardell. More than 50 movies will be shown, including such festival circuit favorites as "American Hollow," Rory Kennedy's documentary about an Appalachian family, and "Hands on a Hardbody," S.E. Bindler's film about a Longview, Texas, endurance contest to win a fully loaded Nissan truck.

Among the fiction features being shown will be "Brown's Requiem," an adaptation of a James Ellroy novel by Baltimore native Jason Freeland, the coming-of-age film "Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore," by Sarah Jacobson and "Windhorse," Paul Wagner's film set in China-occupied Tibet.

In keeping with the festival's goal of donating a portion of its profits to film preservation, a number of repertory classics and filmmaker retrospectives will be featured. "All Quiet on the Western Front," "The Bicycle Thief" and Adolfas Mekas' "Hallelujah the Hills" will be shown, as well as a special screening of the 1924 film "Peter Pan" with a live orchestra.

John Waters, artist Donald Sultan, the band the Red Clay Ramblers, WJHU radio host Marc Steiner, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, actor Giancarlo Esposito and screenwriter Robert Towne will all introduce films at the festival, which will be held at the Charles, Senator and Orpheum theaters April 22 through April 25.

Tickets to individual shows are $10; tickets to "Peter Pan" are $15; and tickets to the closing-night program, which includes a party at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, are $20. Call ProTix at 410-481-6500, or log on at http: //www.protix.com.

Platinum passes, which entitle holders to all screenings, panels and parties, are $250. Platinum passes may be purchased by calling the festival office at 410-752-8083. For more information on what's playing at the festival, check out the festival Web site at http: //www.mdfilmfest.com.

Hopkins ties films to fair

A host of films you're almost guaranteed never to see anywhere else, both shorts and features, are among the offerings at next week's second annual Johns Hopkins Film Festival.

The four-day festival, running concurrent with Hopkins' annual Spring Fair, launches at 7 p.m. Thursday with a premiere from Shooting Gallery Films. Director Martin Duffy's "The Bumblebee Flies Anyway" features Elijah Wood as the test subject of a massive research center called The Complex.

Opening night closes with a film that's become something of a legend on the underground festival circuit, "Six-String Samurai," a post-apocalyptic tale of Lost Vegas and the search for a new Elvis.

Both films are being shown in Shriver Hall on the JHU campus.

Friday's offerings begin at 4 p.m. Among the day's expected highlights are "A.J.'s Dogumentary," a look at some dog owners who go way above and beyond the call of duty (4 p.m., Gilman Hall, Donovan Room, Room 110) and a showcase of short films from some of the area's budding cineastes (7 p.m., Shaffer 3).

Also shown Friday will be a pair of documentaries looking at two of the world's more bizarre medical practices. "A Matter of Life and Breath" explores the Rebirthing Movement, which claims all manner of ills can be healed through breathing techniques. "A Hole in the Head" is a surprisingly engaging documentary about the ancient art of trepanation, or drilling holes in the skull, in order to increase brain function (10 p.m., Shaffer 3). (Note that this movie is not for the squeamish or highly suggestible.)

Saturday includes a filmmakers' panel at 1 p.m. in Shaffer 3, featuring many of the artists whose work is being showcased at the festival.

Among the film offerings Saturday are "Snapshots From a .500 Season," a look at a mediocre college soccer team that festival organizers promise is a true view of what college is all about (4: 30 p.m., Shaffer 3); "Evil Dead Trap," a gore-fest from Japanese director Toshiharu Ikea that's definitely not for the easily offended (midnight, Shriver Hall); and a second chance to see "Six-String Samurai" (10 p.m., Shriver Hall).

The festival closes Sunday with "The Perfect Specimen," Stephen Mims' comedy about a high school prom night run hilariously amok (2 p.m., Shriver Hall), and Miramax's "God Said `Ha!'," based on a one-woman show written and performed by "Saturday Night Live" alum Julia Sweeney that chronicles a year of physical and emotional turmoil for herself and her family (4 p.m., Shriver Hall).

Festival tickets are $3 per show, $20 for a festival pass (admission is free for JHU students, faculty and staff). For more information or a full festival schedule, telephone 410-516-7517 or check out the festival's Web site at http: //www.seether.com/filmfest.

-- Ann Hornaday and Chris Kaltenbach

Pub Date: 4/10/99

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