The (Previously) Untold History of the Maryland Film Festival

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Maryland Film Festival

In honor of the Maryland Film Festival (see the schedule here), Siobhan Hagan of the Maryland Moving Image Archive decided to dig up the story of Baltimore’s on again off again relationship with film festivals over the last several decades. She shared the results of her research at the MarMIA blog.

Hagan notes that the first Baltimore-based film festival took place in February and March of 1967, around the time that film studies became a thing and advances in film technology (specifically Super 8mm Portapak video) that made the medium more accessible. That incarnation of the “Maryland Film Festival” was organized by MICA students and professors and WBAL-TV, and later, Johns Hopkins University and Goucher as well. It ceased after 1969.

The very next year an English professor at the University of Baltimore filled the void with the “Baltimore Film Festival.” In 1978, it morphed into the “Baltimore International Film Festival” (which makes a very snappy acronym). BIFF called it quits after 1994.

And then of course in 1999 Jed Dietz created the present-day Maryland Film Festival, currently a five-day affair that Hagan credits with putting “Baltimore on the independent cinema map.”

For more, read Hagan’s article at MarMIA.

By the way, here’s an FAQ on this year’s Maryland Film Fest from Director of Programming Eric Allen Hatch.




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