Annapolis Film Festival returns for virtual slate streaming directly into your home

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Annapolis Film Fest (Part 1)

Are you looking for brand new movies to stream from the comfort of your home?

The ninth annual Annapolis Film Festival returns Thursday through April 18.

“Last year, we had nine days to pivot and we were one of the first festivals in the country to go virtual,” co-founder Lee Anderson said. “We have a much better platform this year, it’s very user friendly, and we’re grateful that was built after the pandemic started.”

The streaming platform, Eventive, works via Roku, Apple TV or Amazon Fire devices.

“It’s all virtual this year,” co-founder Patti White said “We also have more time for people to browse through and take a look and see all of the goodies that we have.”

Tickets are $10 per film, $35 for a four-pack or $115 for a full festival pass to all 108 films.

The lineup kicks off with the opening night film “Marvelous and the Black Hole.”

“We saw it at Sundance and we’re the next place it’s arriving,” White said. “This film stars Rhea Perlman and Miya Cech. It’s a fantastic, little, wonderful, dreamlike film about a rebellious teenage girl who’s struggling after her mother passes away and meets up with an eccentric magician, Rhea Perlman. The journey after that is one you can’t miss.”

There’s even more star power in the French flick “How to Be a Good Wife.”

“This is such a fun ride,” Anderson said. “It stars Juliette Binoche, it’s a French film, it takes place in the late ’50s or early ’60s. She is running a girls finishing school in the countryside outside of Paris on the eve of the Women’s Liberation Movement.”

Documentary fans will enjoy “Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide.”

“Kenny Scharf was a pop artist that was lesser known during the era of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, but he did big, bold, bright-colored art in New York,” Anderson said. “This is about his life and his work and his daughter is one of the directors of the film.”

Family drama abounds in the international film “Luzzu.”

“‘Luzzu’ is a very dramatic film from Malta,” White said. “It’s a fascinating story of a fisherman and his young family, wife and newborn child. He’s caught up in the fishing industry that is really going black market and having to deal with the ethics.”

Another international gem is the experimental “Materna.”

“‘Materna’ has gotten a lot of buzz on the circuit,” Anderson said. “It’s basically four stories that have a common theme. It’s not easy to figure out at first, you kind of have to stick with it, but then it becomes clear through the evolution of how the stories are connected.”

Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta”) stars in the comedy “The Outside Story.”

“Imagine being a very introverted writer that gets locked out of his apartment during COVID and is forced to then interact with the neighbors,” Anderson said. “It’s a lighthearted and fun ride. We wanted to have some levity this year. It’s been a very tough year for everybody.”

Lili Taylor (“The Conjuring”) stars in “Paper Spiders.”

“This is a very well-done indie,” Anderson said. “A young girl in her senior year of high school, the father has recently died, she’s hoping to get into medical school. Her mom initially appears to be quirky, but the quirkiness becomes more concerning. You realize what happens when a child is forced to deal with a parent with mental illness.”

Don’t miss “The Perfect Candidate” by Haifaa Al-Mansour (“Wadjda”).

“This is her second film,” White said. “A young Saudi female doctor is up against a very difficult situation in her town where they’re not paving roads to her hospital or doing anything, so she decides to run for local office. No women have ever run for office in Saudi Arabia, so she is up against a very difficult situation. Some of her family even turns on her.”

And for a laugh, check out “Together Together” starring Ed Helms (“The Office”).

“It’s a very interesting, modern-relationship look at a man in his 40s who’s not married who hires a surrogate to have his baby,” Anderson said. “A terrific Q&A with the director after.”

There’s also the annual themed showcases, including the Environmental Showcase, African-American Experience, Jewish Experience and Boating Showcase.

“This was an unprecedented year to even find good films,” Anderson said. “Not a lot of content was made this year … so we have been meticulous in finding really good films and it’s been twice as hard. Next year, we hope it is live and in person [for Year 10]. A decade of film in Annapolis and we are going to blow it out.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Annapolis Film Fest (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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