The Maryland Film Festival (MdFF) announced today the Opening Night Program and Festival branding for the 23rd annual Maryland Film Festival being held Wednesday, May 19 through Thursday, May 27, 2021.

Following the local focus of last year’s 2020 Festival Opening Night program, the 2021 Festival will open on May 19 with a new iteration of MdFF’s signature Balti-Shorts program of Baltimore-made short films, followed by the local premiere of Baltimore-made feature film Strawberry Mansion directed by Albert Birney and Kentucker Audley and produced by Emma Hannaway, Sarah Winshall, Matisse Rifai and Taylor Shung.

“Festivals — outdoors, indoors, seasonal, year-round, and now virtual — are long-established, centuries old celebrations of community and gathering people together, connecting us with our most cherished traditions and providing ways for us to share our stories and explore the boundaries of creativity,” said Sandra L. Gibson, Executive Director of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theatre, home of the Maryland Film Festival. “MdFF is rooted in the recognition that movies have incredible power to unite, inspire and present ideas and stories in new and relevant ways to capture hearts and minds, which this year’s Festival certainly promises to deliver.”

The 2021 Festival will feature multiple programs, including feature length and short film programs that highlight local filmmakers and local stories.

“It’s been such a pleasure to program this iteration of the Maryland Film Festival,” said Christy LeMaster, Artistic Director of the Maryland Film Festival and Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theatre. “We were fortunate to receive so many strong submissions from all over the world but especially from artists based in Baltimore and greater Maryland. There is a ton of talent and creativity in this region.”

A science fiction narrative, Strawberry Mansion premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in January 2021 and was ranked by USA Today as one of the top 25 “best films” seen at Sundance. The film features music composed by Baltimore musician Dan Deacon, a Maryland production team, and stars MdFF alum Grace Glowicki (Tito, RAF) alongside Kentucker Audley.

“MdFF was the first film festival that ever played one of my films (look it up in your 2007 MdFF film program) and it’s been my favorite festival ever since,” said Albert Birney, co-director of Strawberry Mansion. “Kentucker and I met at the 2011 Fest and we were so happy to show our last movie, Sylvio, here in 2017. The Maryland Film Festival is at the core of many of the

collaborations that helped bring Strawberry Mansion into the world, and it is a true honor to share it with you all as part of the 2021 Opening Night Program.”

The 2021 Balti-Shorts, programmed by MdFF Programming Associate Eric Cotten, includes the following short films:

The Cal, The Coz, and The Streak directed by David Bonnett

The Aviary directed by Charlie Knott

SAVE THE MANCHILDS, FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH directed by Gyasi Mitchell

Fugazi’s Barber directed by Joe Tropea

Words for Thomas directed by Alonzo Hellerbach

Diary directed by Gillian Waldo

The 2021 Festival branding, created by Baltimore graphic artist Nolen Strals, highlights the transformative, personal, and unexpected experiences of the Festival with an exciting and dynamic blend of abstract and representational imagery.

“The multitude of hands populating the designs represent the spectrum of creators from around the world presenting films at MdFF and the broad audience of the event,” said Strals. “Each one is active: holding small surprises, giving direction, producing magical eruptions, or simply opening themselves and their ideas to us. The symbols around them reflect what to expect from the program, which is anything and everything from the familiar to the mysterious and new.”

Passes for the 2021 Maryland Film Festival are now on sale and include the all-encompassing, VIP All-Access Pass for $450, as well as a new entry-level option introduced this year, the Exposure Pass for $100. Members of MdFF’s SNF Parkway Movie Club are able to purchase discounted All-Access Passes for $395. Learn more and purchase 2021 Festival passes here.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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