Pick a Picture Panel

The 4th Annual Maryland Film Festival

Thursday May 2nd Through Sunday May 5th

May 02, 2002|By MICHAEL SRAGOW | MICHAEL SRAGOW,Sun Movie Critic

You can start off your Saturday with a discussion that will cause you to wonder whether words like "movies," "films" or "motion pictures" will continue to make sense in the cinema or will be taken over by some monicker more like Aldous Huxley's "feelies."

At 10:30 a.m. at the Charles, "The Technology Panel" suggests that flicks of the near future will be streams of digital information beamed onto a screen. The festival has put together a diverse group to debate the aesthetic impact of this transformation.

Sam Weisman directs hit movies (including George of the Jungle) and acclaimed TV shows -- most recently, episodes of The Bernie Mac Show, "using 24P video technology," whatever that is.

Cinematographer Jim Hunter (The Initiate, Maryland Film Festival 2000), an avowed celluloid man, shot his last short, Epiphany, in high-definition video. Did he have his own epiphany about digital?

Milford Thomas went forward to the past when he directed this year's festival entry Claire, using an authentic hand-cranked silent camera.

And Peter Lynch, director of this year's documentary entry Cyberman, mixed and matched formats, including Super 16mm film and webcam footage.

The moderator, Dan Mirvish, "co-founder-at-large" for the Slamdance Film Festival, filmed Omaha: The Movie on 35mm, "edited it on an old-fashioned upright Moviola" -- and still managed to create a picture that catalyzed Slamdance into being (after Sundance rejected the film) and just two weeks ago became LA Weekly's DVD Pick of the Week.

Nonetheless, Mirvish used digital video for his new short, Open House, and edited it on a computer. Mirvish will immediately segue into moderating "The Music Panel" at noon at the Charles. Again, his background fits the subject: He hopes to turn Open House into a musical.

The panelists include the filmmaking teams behind music-based festival entries Easy Listening and Standard Time, and Anne Richardson, the composer of the musical accompaniment for Thomas' silent Claire.

An alternate technology with a pop allure all its own gets showcased at 11 a.m. at the Charles, when The Sun's Chris Kalten-bach hosts a screening of the most effective 3-D movie ever made, Andre De Toth's House of Wax, starring Vincent Price.

Along with intriguing documentaries on the festival screens Saturday, other unconventional treats include the shorts programs at the Charles, and Terry Gilliam's seductive phantasmagoria, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, at 3:15 p.m. at the Charles.

Of course, believers in the off-Hollywood ethos might feel compelled to make a pilgrimage to Sundance 20 (the Charles, 3:30 p.m.), Doug Pray's chronicle of the Robert Redford film-development project that breathed fresh air into the American independent-film movement.

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