Cinema Paradiso


Grab your popcorn–the internationally renowned Maryland Film Festival returns to the SNF Parkway May 2-6.

Now in its 20th year, the festival will continue to build upon its founding legacy. MdFF was born to bring filmmakers to a new marketplace and to encourage them to stay and make movies in Baltimore, says Jed Dietz, a founding director of the festival, adding that it gives people the opportunity to interact with filmmakers and movie connoisseurs alike from all over the world.

This year, the festival will include over 130 movies, including shorts, documentaries, and narratives. Some of the films are well-known, critically-acclaimed works, while others are getting their first shot at the spotlight.

“This is a great chance to really see what’s happening in the movie world. There will be a lot of premieres, including the shorts which have never been seen before,” Dietz says. “We program these films because we are passionate about them.”

As always, legendary Baltimore filmmaker John Waters will be choosing and introducing a favorite-film of his own. This year’s pick? “I, Olga Hepnarova,” a documentary of a young girl with a troubled past and a charge for murder.

Audiences can purchase different ticket options, ranging from a one-time showing to an all-access pass for the weekend. Wednesday night opens with some shorts, and the weekend follows with a schedule jam-packed with one-to-three showings of each included film. While t is essentially impossible to get yourself to every single movie (without time travel capabilities), you’re guaranteed to experience great cinema.

Still not sure where to star? Check out Dietz’s top picks.

  1. OPENING NIGHT – “We are one of the only general festivals in the world that devotes our opening night to shorts,” Dietz says. He encourages everyone to come out to Wednesday night’s opener because this year, “the program is amazing.”
  2. MADELINE’S MADELINE – This film premiered at Sundance and its director, Josephine Decker, has been a regular at the MDFF. “The lead in the film, Helena Howard is amazing. If she wants to be an actress and have a career, she will be,” Dietz says.
  3. SOLLERS POINT – This fictional tale takes place in Baltimore and has a great cast, including Jim Belushi and McCaul Lombardi. Dietz called this a very interesting story and a can’t-miss of the weekend.
  4. I, OLGA HEPNAROVA – Dietz agrees with Waters on his choice to bring this film to light in Baltimore. This based-on-a-true-story piece is “high on [Waters’s] list of movies from 2017,” Dietz says.
  5. A PAGE OF MADNESS — “Each year at the festival,” Dietz explains, “we have chosen to show a silent film because of movie-making history. Many have been restored with new scores commissioned and we like to show them with the scores performed live. This year, we are showing a Japanese film, thought to be lost during World War II, with a newly restored score.” The score will be performed by a Boston orchestra who wrote it for this movie specifically.
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