Chesapeake Film Festival 2011

The fourth annual Chesapeake Film Festival runs from Friday, September 23 to Monday, September 26 at venues in Easton, Cambridge, Chestertown and Wye Mills. The festival showcases award-winning films from major festivals like Sundance and Tribeca, classic films from the 1960s, 70s and 80s, as well as homegrown films made in and about Maryland.

The festival opens with The Last Rites of Joe May, written and directed by Joe Maggio whose film Bitter Feast showed at the festival last year. Of the reviews published, all make mention of the great work of star Dennis Farina who is described in Joe May as an aging hustler.

Other feature films made this past year include Meek's Cutoff, set in 1845 and following travelers on the Oregon Trail, starring Oscar-nominee Michelle Williams. A couple of foreign films will also screen. Poland's The Mill and the Cross is a fictionalized version of Christ's passion, partially inspired by the paintings of Peter Bruegel. There's also the French animated film, A Cat in Paris about a feline with a double life.

Three classics will screen. The first plays early Saturday morning at the Avalon Theatre in Easton. Network (1976) is the four-time, Oscar-winning film that satirizes everything bad about broadcast television. Bull Durham (1988) was Oscar-nominated for Best Writing. The romantic comedy, which is considered one of the greatest sports movies of all time, stars Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon in the loves and losses of Minor League players. Finally, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) screens Sunday evening. It's the Oscar-winning adaptation of the Tony Award-winning play by Edward Albee. It stars Elizabeth Taylor and her husband Richard Burton as a married couple bitterly attacking each other.

However, documentaries dominate the lineup at the festival. Two docs that are potential candidates for the honor of Best Documentary of 2011 are Buck, the story of the real-life man who inspired the novel and Robert Redford film The Horse Whisperer, and, Hell and Back Again, the story of a 25-year-old marine who was injured in Afghanistan in 2009.

There's also Everyday Sunshine, which focuses on the cult rock band Fishbone as it blurred racial stereotypes, narrated by Laurence Fishburne. How to Die in Oregon tackles the issue of physician-assisted suicide in the first state where it was legalize. We Were Here deals with the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco as it affected the gay community.

Of the local films playing at the festival, two are also documentaries. Band Together is a profile on the Kent County marching band in Chestertown, MD. The festival even has a venue in Chestertown, which will screen this movie about many of its citizens. The closing night movie is Cafeteria Man, which follows the efforts to change the food served in Baltimore's public schools.

Each of the Maryland-made movies will host Q&A sessions with the Maryland filmmakers. Those and many more programs will take place during the packed schedule. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students.

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