The Chesapeake Film Festival marks its 15th anniversary with a hybrid, 10-day celebration of films and filmmakers from around the world. Predominant themes for 2022 include the environment and films by and about women.

The LIVE Festival, at two stunning venues in Easton, MD, begins Friday, Sept. 30 and continues through Sunday Oct. 2.  The LIVE Festival brings films, filmmakers and film lovers together for screenings and lively discussions.

The FREE VIRTUAL Festival follows, with 40 more jury-selected films available for home viewing Oct. 3 through Oct. 9.

“We were astounded to receive so many festival-worthy submissions this year,” said Festival Director Cid Collins Walker. “Making our selections was extremely difficult, but we are over the moon with our lineup.”

Opening the festival at the Avalon Theatre is the World Premiere of an environmental short, The Search for the Cooper River, by local favorites Dave Harp and Sandy Cannon-Brown. The film follows a group of teens on a six-day expedition along the neglected Cooper River in Camden, NJ, as they kayak, hike, and hack their way through overgrowth in search of the source of a river hidden in plain view.  

The second film, Upstream, Down River by returning filmmaker Maggie Stogner, Director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University, checks the health of our waterways. Clean water is vital to keeping our ecosystems healthy and sustaining our human civilization. But as this provocative film reveals, 50 years after passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 nearly half of U.S. streams, rivers and lakes are so polluted that they are no longer safe for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life.

Discussion with the filmmakers and subject experts follows the first two films.

Capping the evening is an enthralling environmental short by Michael O. Snyder, Into the Dark, about the effects of small traces of light may be radically altering the mysterious world of the polar night. The cinematography is astounding, especially since most of it was shot in the dark.

Saturday’s events celebrate films by and about women. The evening begins with The Glorias, about the early life of Gloria Steinem. This thoughtful biodrama wasdirectedby Julie Taymor, best known for her stage adaptation of The Lion King and her Oscar-nominated film Frida about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

The second film, by director Pamela B. Green, Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy Blaché, rewrites film history, revealing the life and work of cinema’s first female director, screen writer, producer, and studio owner. The film, narrated by Jody Foster, unfolds as a detective story as it shines a long-overdue spotlight on a phenomenal woman.

Sunday at the Ebenezer Theater promise to be a fun and uplifting tribute to a famous director, William Wyler, by his very accomplished daughter, Catherine Wyler.  Take a Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn in Wyler’s endearing film about a European princess who takes off for a night while in Rome and ends up with an American reporter played by Gregory Peck. Then learn more about Wyler from his daughter as she hosts and discusses Directed by William Wyler, a film that celebrates his life and career as one of Hollywood’s most accomplished directors.  

Beginning Monday Oct. 3 through Oct. 9, people from around the world can experience more amazing films in a variety of lengths and genres as the Festival goes VIRTUAL. These films proudly showcase the work of outstanding filmmakers from the shores of the Chesapeake to locations across the United States and in four other continents.

“Since we can’t bring the world to Easton,” Walker said, “we’re taking the Festival to the world virtually.”  

An early look at some of the films in the VIRTUAL Chesapeake Film Festival reveals these gems:

Green Nettle is a very short environmental film from South Africa with a surprising story about how a large, stinging nettle grown on the beautiful slopes of Mount Kenya provides livelihoods to local farmers who turn it into sustainable material.

Patrick and the Whalea visually remarkable documentary directed by Mark Fletcher, follows whale watcher Patrick Dykstra as he travels to Dominica to uncover the intelligence and complexity of a puzzling species.

When We Were Saints isa very personal documentary directed by CFF Board Member Theodore Adams III.  After 40 years, the only African American in an elite all-boys Northern Virginia prep school class opens up to his classmates and teachers about racial challenges he faced, only to discover his friends and teachers were dealing with issues of their own. One of his classmates is now Dean of the Washington National Cathedral.

Shark Beat is an adorable student short directed by Chelsea Alexandra Schrett, a recent graduate of the Ringling College of Art and Design. Her animation features a shark who tries to make fish friends, but every time he takes a step, a JAWS-like theme song scares the fish away. Ultimately, the shark joins a band of fish, and they play in perfect, happy harmony.

For more information about the 2022 Chesapeake Film Festival, please visit chesapeakefilmfestival.com.

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