Longtime New Yorker film critic Richard Brody, who has attended multiple Maryland Film Festivals, had some high praise for this year’s edition in the new Parkway Theatre – and it wasn’t just because of the luxurious new digs.
Brody writes in a review running in this week’s magazine that he enjoyed the “majestic” renovated space plenty, but note that “a festival is made not by its theatre but by its movies.”
His opinion: “This year’s schedule was a cornucopia unmatched in my previous years of attendance—one that reflects major shifts in the world of independent filmmaking.”
He spotlighted “Werewolf,” Angie McKenzie’s documentary about a drug-addicted couple in Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island, and “Sylvio,” Kentucker Audley’s sparsely budgeted work about a bill collector and aspiring performer in Baltimore who wears a gorilla suit most of the time.
The two films are examples of a “generation shift” from filmmakers in their thirties who have grown and are now “are taking their place in the business” of indie filmmaking, Brody wrote. He shouted out Baltimore’s own Matt Porterfield as a member of said generation.
In his review, he noted indie film benefitted over the last decade or so from advents like YouTube and a trove of easily accessible classic movies for filmmakers to dig through for inspiration. The biggest danger today, he wrote, is a potential regression in quality by filmmakers with “the craving for an artificial normalcy.”
But the Maryland Film Festival appeased his worry. “The best films that I saw at Maryland suggest that the danger is, for the moment, being held at bay,” Brody wrote.
It’s hard to say whether the highbrow magazine’s critic caught all, most or just a couple works during his time in Baltimore last week — though he likely did his research. If he was lucky, he got to see some other gems from Charm City directors, such as Theo Anthony’s buzzing “Rat Film” about rodents and race relations in Charm City, and Morgan State professor David Wilson’s “Tell Them We Are Rising,” concerning the troubled history and ongoing struggle of America’s historically black colleges and universities.