Maryland Film Festival celebrates 25 years in Baltimore, launching Greta Gerwig, Berry Jenkins

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Maryland Film Festival in Baltimore (Part 1)

Happy 25th birthday to the Maryland Film Festival celebrating a quarter century of cinema in Baltimore.

The three-screen Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theatre is the venue for the Maryland Film Festival. (Courtesy Chelsea Clough/Abel Communications)

The festival returns to the recently restored SNF Parkway Theatre on West North Avenue from May 2 through May 5.

“It’s such a Baltimore institution and has really grown and become one of the biggest up-and-coming festivals in the country and certainly the preeminent festival here in the Mid-Atlantic,” Director of Programming KJ Mohr told WTOP. “It’s a festival of discovery of emerging filmmakers where a lot of filmmakers come in the beginning of their careers. … Greta Gerwig has been a big part of the festival in the past, Barry Jenkins, there are so many.”

Opening night kicks off Thursday, May 2 with the Luther Vandross documentary “Luther: Never Too Much.”

“One of my very favorite things at Sundance this year, but this will be our regional premiere,” Mohr said. “Luther Vandross’ family was looking for the right person to direct this film, they looked for years and finally decided to hand it over to Dawn Porter … to create this beautiful portrait. It’s such a lovely story. … It will be an all-out Luther Vandross party with The Jonathan Gilmore Project performing tributes to Luther Vandross afterwards.”

Friday, May 3 brings the local music documentary “More Than Hype” directed by Larry “Whaddup” Caudle.

“It’s a documentary about Baltimore club music,” Mohr said. “It focuses around The Paradox, which was the biggest club in Baltimore until 2017 when it closed. The energy in this film is pumping throughout. It’s such a great history of Baltimore club music and the Baltimore music scene in general, talking to all of the great figures. Wayne Davis, who ran The Paradox, is creating a one-night-only ‘One Night at the Docks,’ a big afterparty after the screening.”

Saturday, May 4 brings the LGBTQ+ short-film series “Trans Shorts Under the Stars” presented by Lilly Wachowski (“The Matrix”) and Mickey R. Mahoney (“Disclosure”).

“It’s just a program of shorts, most of them world premieres, that Lilly and Mickey have found from all over the country,” Mohr said. “They will be with us for the duration of the festival and they’re doing a screening outside under the stars at the Current Space Gallery in Mount Vernon. They will be introducing the films and most of the directors will be there, so that’s going to be a really exciting one.”

It all culminates Sunday, May 5 with the documentary “Divine Trash” directed by Steve Yaeger.

“It’s a film that showed in our very first festival in 1999,” Mohr said. “Skizz Cyzyk, who is the former program director of the festival and is still involved in our screening committee, will be presenting ‘Divine Trash,’ which is a film about Divine and John Waters’ crew. It’s just such an important part of the festival history and part of Baltimore history and Steve Yeager is just a filmmaker who we really want to give him his flowers.”

Find more information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews the Maryland Film Festival in Baltimore (Part 2)

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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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