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19th annual Maryland Film Festival closed with the Hero by Brett Haley

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closing night film for the 19th annual Maryland Film Festival, taking place May 3-7 in Baltimore, Maryland. The complete festival program, schedule and tickets for all screenings are now available online at http://mdfilmfest.com/film-guide/ and is also available for download as a PDF from that page.

GRAND OPENING / OPENING NIGHT FILMS

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The festival will kick-off with the Opening Night Shorts program, the Grand Opening and first public event in the festival's new home, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway, the stunning newly-renovated three-screen theater in the heart of the city's Station North Arts and Entertainment District. The evening is hosted by MdFF alums Kris Swanberg and Josephine Decker. The opening night event will be held on Wednesday, May 3 at 8:00 PM at the Parkway.

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The five films in the opening night shorts program are: BALLONFEST from director Nathan TruesdellCOMMODITY CITY from director Jessica KingdonGAME from director Jeannie Donohoe, RICHARD TWICE from director Matthew Salton, and THEY CHARGE FOR THE SUN from director Terence Nance. All five directors will be in attendance. In fact, all U.S. feature films and all Opening Night Shorts are hosted by their filmmakers, and many more filmmakers will be in attendance across MdFF 2017's international features and 10 shorts programs, continuing a unique MdFF festival tradition.

BALLONFEST, Nathan Truesdell, 6 minutes, USA
Cleveland attempts to overcome its nickname, ‘The Mistake by the Lake’ by launching a bunch of balloons.

COMMODITY CITY, Jessica Kingdon, 10 minutes, USA
Commodity City is an observational documentary exploring the daily lives of vendors who work in the largest wholesale consumer market in the world: the Yiwu Markets in China. The film explores moments of tension between commerce and individuality, between the goods for sale and the humans who sell them.

GAME, Jeannie Donohoe, 16 minutes, USA
A new kid in town shows up at the high school boys basketball tryouts and instantly makes an impression. Will talent and drive be enough to make the team?

RICHARD TWICE, Matthew Salton, 10 minutes, USA
Richard Atkins, the singer and songwriter of the early 70’s California psychedelic folk duo ‘Richard Twice’, was on his way to stardom and a huge success with his first debut album when he mysteriously walked away from it all.

THEY CHARGE FOR THE SUN, Terence Nance, 17 minutes, USA
In a dystopian future where people live nocturnally to avoid the harmful rays of the sun, a young black girl unravels the lie that has kept her and her sister in the dark.

CLOSING NIGHT FILM: THE HERO

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Director Brett Haley will present his beautiful narrative feature THE HERO, the festival's closing night film, at the Parkway on Sunday, May 7 at 7:15 PM.

THE HERO stars the legendary Sam Elliott as an aging actor confronting mortality in the moving new film from writer/director Brett Haley (I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS). Lee Hayden (Elliott) is a Western icon with a golden voice, but his best performances are decades behind him. He spends his days reliving old glories and smoking too much weed with his former-co-star-turned-dealer, Jeremy (Nick Offerman), until a surprise cancer diagnosis brings his priorities into sharp focus. He soon strikes up an exciting, contentious relationship with stand-up comic Charlotte (Laura Prepon), and he attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Lucy (Krysten Ritter), all while searching for one final role to cement his legacy. THE HERO is a beautiful and poignant celebration of life and the legacies we all leave behind.

NOTABLE WORLD PREMIERES & U.S. PREMIERES

The festival will feature world premieres of two excellent narrative feature works, Stephen Cone's nuanced coming-of-age drama PRINCESS CYD (the follow-up his highly-acclaimed recent film HENRY GAMBLE'S BIRTHDAY PARTY) and Josh Crockett's hilarious and insightful DR. BRINKS & DR. BRINKS. It will also feature the U.S. premiere of Ashley McKenzie's haunting and uncompromising narrative feature WEREWOLF and Hugh Gibson's documentary feature THE STAIRS.

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PRINCESS CYD – World Premiere (Narrative Feature)
Director: Stephen Cone
Thursday 5/4 at 8:00 PM at MICA Gateway Building
Friday 5/5 at 11:30 AM at MICA Gateway Building
Saturday 5/6 at 4:40 PM at Parkway Auditorium 3

Eager to escape life with her depressive single father, 16-year-old athlete Cyd Loughlin visits her novelist aunt in Chicago over the summer. While there, she falls for a girl in the neighborhood, even as she and her aunt gently challenge each other in the realms of sex and spirit. From the director of Henry Gamble's Birthday Party, which had its world premiere within MdFF 2015.

Princess Cyd is playing with the short film IMAGO from director Liz Cardenas Franke. The courageous, life-altering decision to never let anyone bully him ever again – not even his own father – leads a 15-year-old gay teen to fully embrace his true identity. (8 minutes, USA)

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DR. BRINKS & DR. BRINKS – World Premiere (Narrative Feature)
Director: Josh Crockett
Thursday 5/4 at 7:40 PM at Parkway Auditorium 2
Friday 5/5 at 4:50 PM at MICA Gateway Building
Sunday 5/7 5:15 PM at Parkway Auditorium 2

Marcus and Michelle Brinks reunite at the funeral for their parents, crazy aid workers who rarely stuck around to do any parenting. As their lawyer sorts out the convoluted estate of the globe-trotting doctors, who may not be the angels they were thought to be, the siblings turn their lives and relationships into chaos while reckoning with their shared past. The movie is about pain, loss, sex, ego…about the search for real family and the strong pull of roots. It’s hard to be the children of saints. The first feature from the director of such short films as Dogsbody (MdFF 2016).

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WEREWOLF – U.S. Premiere (Narrative Feature)
Director: Ashley McKenzie
Thursday 5/4 at 9:45 PM at Parkway Auditorium 3
Friday 5/5 at 10:00 PM at MICA Gateway Building

Blaise and Nessa are outcast methadone users in their small town. Each day they push a rusty lawnmower door-to-door begging to cut grass. Nessa plots an escape, while Blaise lingers closer to collapse. Tethered to one another, their getaway dreams are kept on a suffocatingly short leash.

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THE STAIRS – U.S. Premiere (Documentary Feature)
Director: Hugh Gibson
Friday 5/5 at 7:05 PM at Parkway Auditorium 3
Sunday 5/7 at 2:40 PM at Parkway Auditorium 2

The Stairs tells the story of Marty, Greg and Roxanne, each of whom survived decades of street-involvement. Using their experiences to ease the paths of others, each performs social work in their old neighborhood, while struggling to maintain their newly-found stability. Told over five years, The Stairs is a non-judgmental character study of life on society’s margins. Defying stereotypes through intimate portraits, its remarkable subjects are by turns surprising, funny, shocking and moving.

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About MdFF – Founded in 1999, MdFF brings films, filmmakers, students and audiences together in a friendly, inclusive atmosphere. Through the organization’s annual five-day Maryland Film Festival each May, daily programming at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District, and the Maryland Filmmakers Fellowship, MdFF reflects the unique creative aspects of Baltimore’s community, while participating in the film and cultural dialogue across the country and the world. Film for Everyone. Every Day. More information about MdFF is available at www.mdfilmfest.com.

About the Maryland Film Festival – Now in its 19th year, the Maryland Film Festival is the annual, five-day celebration of film held each May by MdFF. Centered in and around the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway in Baltimore’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District, Maryland Film Festival champions films and filmmakers with diverse and engaging viewpoints. The Film Festival screens filmmaker-hosted features and short films of all varieties—narrative, documentary, animation, experimental, and hybrid—to thousands of attendees. Film for Everyone. Every Day. More information about Maryland Film Festival is available at www.mdfilmfest.com.

About the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway  – Debuting in May 2017, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway is the new home of MdFF, the organization that creates and delivers the annual Maryland Film Festival. An $18.2 million “rescued ruin,” the Parkway features curated, bold programming that showcases films from every era, region, and genre, with a focus on independent, international, documentary, classic, and cult-favorite films, providing audiences with a fresh and immersive new window into the art form. In addition, the Parkway provides classroom space for film students and is a year-round hub for film education and the Baltimore community. Film for Everyone. Every Day. More information about the Parkway is available at www.mdfilmfest.com.

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Chatelin Bruno
(M21 Entertainment - filmfestivals.com)

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