Indie film festivals draw folks from here to Utah

Celebrate: Marylanders are all over the place at the Sundance and Slamdance.


January 18, 2002|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Maryland Film Festival major domo Jed Dietz, our roving correspondent at this year's Sundance and Slamdance film festivals, called in to wax euphoric about the state's presence at this year's celebrations.

"The Maryland Film Office parties, both for Slamdance [Saturday morning] and Sundance [Monday afternoon], had people pouring in who had Maryland connections and had films in and around the festivals," Dietz said over the phone from Utah Wednesday. "John Waters is on the jury, of course, and I saw at least one person with a Cecil B. Demented crew shirt on the street."

Dietz praised the documentaries at this year's Sundance festival, an annual showcase for independent films (Slamdance serves the same function for even less mainstream films). He also was impressed with Todd Solondz's new film, Storytelling. "I thought it was brilliant," he said.

In a related development, Dan Krovich, programmer of the Maryland festival, called to crow about all the films featured during last year's festival that have been nominated for independent Spirit Awards. The nominations, announced last week, included Lift, The American Astronaut, Hybrid and Daydream Believer. MFF organizers are especially proud of Lift, which was financed in part by a grant from the Producers Club of Maryland.

Meanwhile, the dates for the fourth annual Maryland Film Festival have been announced: May 2 through May 5. Clear your calendars now.

An endangered species

Tom Kiefaber and his continuing efforts to keep Baltimore's best theater, the Senator, afloat, are featured in the Jan. 21 issue of U.S. News & World Report.

The story of how Kiefaber's grandfather, Frank Durkee, founded the Durkee Theater chain, of which the Senator was one of the crown jewels, leads off the story, "Screen savers: Can grand old theaters survive the age of the multiplex?"

The story details efforts by Kiefaber and others to keep the movie palaces of yore running, a task increasingly difficult in an age when large theater chains not only compete with them for audiences, but also prevent some films from showing there.

The Senator, the article notes, is one of fewer than 50 historic movie theaters still showing first-run films.

At the Charles

This weekend at the Charles:

The Postman Always Rings Twice, director Tay Garnett's 1946 version of James M. Cain's tale of lust and betrayal, starring John Garfield and Lana Turner in the film that made her career, is tomorrow's Saturday Matinee. The film starts at noon. Admission is $5.

Cinema Sundays this week presents The Devil's Backbone, director Guillermo del Toro's horrific tale set in an isolated orphanage during the Spanish Civil War. Showtime for the film, in Spanish with English subtitles, is 10:30 a.m., with doors opening at 9:45. Tickets cost $15. For information on memberships, which include reduced-price admissions, check out

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