Maryland Film Festival spinoffs

Bars and clubs are hosting screenings, live music and other alternatives to the annual cinematic celebration

May 07, 2010|By Sam Sessa, The Baltimore Sun

The Charles Theatre is the hub of this weekend's Maryland Film Festival, but it isn't the only place to find quirky and under-the-radar cinema.

Several neighborhood bars and clubs, such as the Metro Gallery, Hexagon and Windup Space, are hosting film festival spinoffs and overflow screenings from the weekend-long event. It's further proof of how, in the past five years, the Station North Arts and Entertainment District has begun to live up to its name as a home for cutting-edge culture.

Videopolis

The biggest celebration of cinema outside the festival proper is Videopolis, a three-year-old event held at the nearby lounge and performance space. Videopolis, which began Thursday and runs through Sunday, brings together art installations, improvisational music and film screenings. Videopolis is also recession-friendly — all of the events are free.

"We're growing," said Videopolis curator Guy Werner. "We're still a new operation. This is only our third year, and to be honest, we're making it up as we go."

Most of Videopolis comes from Baltimore-based artists, musicians and filmmakers, such as experimental musician Catherine Pancake, who will perform at 9 p.m. today with a cast of other players, including the Violet Hour, Shan Palmer and Andy Hayleck.

The gallery will screen the full-length documentary "Healing Neen" and host narrative shorts, including "Wasting Daylight," about a man named Carl's efforts to end daylight saving time, and "Broken," about a man who joins a church with dark secrets. Earlier this week, Werner helped install a piece from artist Phil Davis, which uses film from VHS tapes to form a sculptural work, reminding the viewer of the physicality of obsolete technology.

"We pack as much as we can into this space," Werner said. "I've never walked away from Videopolis saying, 'We've had too much performance.' I don't think that's ever going to happen."

Videopolis begins at 8 p.m. today, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at the Metro Gallery, 1700 N. Charles St. Free. Call 410-244-0899 or go to themetrogallery.net.

Zero Film Festival

A few doors up from the Charles Theatre sits the Hexagon, a nonprofit arts collective that regularly brings in local art and live music. Tonight, the Hexagon will be the stage for the Zero Film Festival, a celebration of self-financed filmmakers.

Nine films are on the roster, including "Baju," about Singapore street gangs, "Latte America," about our country's coffee obsession, and "Twilight of the Idols," which follows an obsessed football fan as life around him begins to disintegrate. The longest film is 30 minutes, and the shortest clocks in at two. Most of the filmmakers are from Los Angeles or New York, and all of the projects were self-funded.

"It's a pretty good foil to what's going on at the real film festival down the street," said Miguel Sabogal, the Hexagon's manager. "It serves a different demographic of filmmaker."

The Washington-based indie group True Womanhood and Baltimore experimental duo Polygons will perform musical interludes between screenings.

The Zero Film Festival is at the Hexagon, 1825 N. Charles St. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. $6. Go to hexagonspace.com.

Works in progress

Last year, Windup Space owner Russell de Ocampo wanted to be a part of the annual film festival. This year, he's getting his wish. On Saturday, the music and arts space will host a two-hour screening of various works in progress.

"I'm just glad to be working with them this year," he said. "Hopefully, we can build something that's going to draw the film festival further north up to North Avenue and include more and more venues and make it an even bigger film festival than it has been in the past."

The Windup Space, 12 W. North Ave., will screen works in progress from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Call 410-244-8855 or go to the windupspace.com.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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