Annapolis Film Festival returns, showing 90 films over four days

Encore presentation

November 10, 2006|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,Sun reporter

Three years after it started, the Annapolis Film Festival is still largely run out of the founders' home.

But the event itself has grown far beyond the kitchen-table expectations: Opening tonight, it offers 90 films shown over four days at three venues. More than 40 independent filmmakers, who come from as far away as California and Canada, are expected to attend.

Organizers predict that up to 3,000 film buffs will attend at least one screening.

The award winners will be announced Sunday morning at a free party at the Annapolis Maritime Museum.

"Every year, we get better films, because people start to want to come," said Ken Arnold, a film editor, actor and model. "The town and the people are great; we love the response."

Arnold, his wife, Maria Triandos, and her sister, Demetrea Triantafillides, founded the event. Triantafillides, an Emmy award-winning assistant television director, runs a production company with Triandos. Arnold and Triandos largely run the festival headquarters out of their house in Annapolis.

"We've gone to festivals in Baltimore and Washington and wanted to do something really cool like that in Annapolis," Triandos said. "We thought, `Hey, we could do that.'"

City film festivals, small or large, give young directors a showcase for their work, adding to their reputation in the arts community, Triandos said. They also boost their chances of making a deal with a distributor to give their films a larger audience.

"It's fun place to meet, artistic and eclectic, to learn about filmmakers," she said. "And their next film may be a large film."

One surprise over the three years, she noted, is that the festival is not an event only for twentysomethings.

"We expected students, mostly," Trianados said. "But we've seen people in their 30s on up."

Five hundred filmmakers submitted a work for consideration in several genres: features, shorts, documentaries, horror films and animation. About one of every five entries was chosen by the festival's screening committee. The festival's venues include Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Crown Harbour 9 Theatres on Route 2 and the Bowie State University Center for Learning and Technology.

The festival will kick off tonight with a coming-of-age cross-country flick, The Naked Ape. A live band will jazz up the party afterward.

Triandos described the feature-length film as "absolutely beautiful," with breathtaking scenery shot between St. Louis and Los Angeles.

Daniel Mellitz, the California director of The Naked Ape, is attending the festival and will discuss his work with viewers after the film.

Mellitz, 34, studied film at California State University, Long Beach and said his 30th birthday was "a kick in the butt" to make a full-length feature. The project, which he said is shot in a "National Geographic style, looking at humans," took several years to finish.

"This is our first opening," he said in a telephone interview. "It's an honor, an invigorating experience."

The story, drawn from bits and pieces of his experience, Mellitz said, is a drama edged with comedy.

Another high-profile film at the festival, The Big Bad Swim, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York this spring. The 27-year-old director, Ishai Setton of Brooklyn, N.Y., said he was inspired to tell a cinematic story of an adult swim class.

"They're strangers, a motley crew, and characters are facing their fear of the water," Setton said. He is scheduled to attend the festival, too, to mingle with other directors and filmgoers.

Arnold said that in the field of nine documentaries a standout is Beyond the Call, which chronicles the humanitarian efforts of a team of doctors in Afghanistan. Just for Kicks turns the camera on the sneaker industry and features rap artists.

Robert Harari, a Baltimore filmmaker, said he's ecstatic about coming to the state capital with his horror movie, The Murder Game. "Annapolis is not going to break the bank," Harari, 30, said. Contrary to its grim title, he added that the thriller "is 100 percent entertainment for 90 minutes."

jamie.stiehm@baltsun.com

For more information, visit www.annapolisfilmfestival.com.

festival schedule

TODAY

Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts

7:30 p.m. - The Naked Ape, Q & A with director Daniel Mellitz

9:30 p.m. - Opening night party with live entertainment by Dan Haas.

TOMORROW

Maryland Hall (auditorium)

1:30 p.m - Stars, La Viren Del Asfalto, In Modern Time.

3:30 p.m. - Linear Progressions, Orphaned in the Himalayas, Umbrellas, The Problem With Fiber, Optics, A Grocery Story.

5:30 p.m. - Wampire, Oclero, An American Vampire.

7:30 p.m. - Soap Opera, The Big Bad Swim.

Maryland Hall (gym)

1 p.m. - Piss Grass, Hard Coal

3 p.m. - Dragon in the Tall Grass, Twitch

5 p.m. - Roner, Beyond the Call

7 p.m. - Home Delivery, The Garage

Maryland Hall (room 308)

12:30 p.m. - Family films: Elephant Days, Fumi & the Bad Luck Foot, Shiner, Civil War, Owensville, The Wright Stuff.

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