The Virtual Chesapeake Film Festival

Stock up on the popcorn. The 2020 Virtual Chesapeake Film Festival is coming October 1 through 4, wherever you may be. Four Days. 45 Films. And it’s all free.

To register for this free celebration of film and filmmakers, visit chesapeakefilmfestival.com. You’ll receive a personal All Festival Passcode to access any or all of the 45 films selected from more than 200 submissions.

The Virtual Festival is a gift to film lovers in our community, and beyond, in the difficult times precipitated by COVID-19. While participation is free, donations are appreciated.

Select the films you want to watch, and when and where you choose to enjoy them. The Virtual Festival benefits the filmmakers, too, with the amazing opportunity to present their films to an audience without borders.

Now in its 13th year, the Chesapeake Film Festival invites film enthusiasts once again to savor an explosion of cinematic flavors, including dramas, comedies, documentaries and animations. From five-minute shorts to 90-minute features, the festival offers something for every cinematic taste.

These are a few of the diverse, innovative, independent films our jury selected for the 2020 Virtual Chesapeake Film Festival. A full program will be accessible soon.

Narrative Features

“About Us,” Directed by Stefan Scwartz – In an effort to rekindle their troubled marriage, a young couple revisits the location where they spent their honeymoon eight years earlier. They navigate the beauty and the pain of love, culminating in a heartbreaking finale as truths are revealed.

“Fort Bliss,” Directed by Claudia Myers – A decorated Army medic and single mother (Michelle Monaghan) returns home from an extended tour in Afghanistan to discover that the bond with her five-year-old son has been shattered. In her absence, the boy has attached to his father (Ron Livingston) and his new girlfriend (Emmanuelle Chriqui). As she struggles to reclaim her son’s affection and reintegrate into civilian life, she meets a mechanic (Manolo Cardona) with whom she becomes romantically involved.

Documentary Features

“Balloon Man,” Directed by Chantal Potter – Made in Maryland. After being drafted by the Buffalo Bills, a life-threatening tragedy forces Bill Costen out of his dream. Saying goodbye to a career on the turf, Bill takes to the air to become the first African American Master hot-air balloon pilot in the nation.

“The Penny Black,” Directed by William J. Saunders – The estranged son of a con artist fights temptation, paranoia, and his own nefarious legacy as he searches for the rightful owner of a mysterious, million-dollar stamp collection.

“You Don’t Know Nothin’ Bout Groove City,” Directed by César González – Made in Maryland. In the mid-1970s a musical revolution with roots in the emerging New York City hip hop scene explodes on Pine Street in Cambridge. One block away on Race Street, nobody knows anything about it. “You Don’t Know Nothin’ Bout Groove City” includes such greats as Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown, while exploring the racial tensions that continue to divide the town where Harriet Tubman was born.

International Features

“Imaginarius,” Chile. Directed by Juan Ignacio Bello – A total solar eclipse draws thousands of astronomers and tourists to the Elqui Valley of Chile, where skies stand out as the clearest of the planet. Amid the unusual frenzy that surrounds their town, four friends take a journey of learning and friendship. A story filled with humor, fantasy and creativity.

“Our Gorongosa,” Netherlands. Written and produced by Carla Rebai – Gorongosa National Park has become one of Africa’s most celebrated wildlife restoration stories. After a decade of renewed protection, Gorongosa’s large mammal population has increased 10-fold to over 100,000 animals. But the Park must also find a way to co-exist with the 200,000 people living in surrounding communities.

International Shorts

“The Abjurants,” Italy. Directed by Antonio De Palo –Vera and Roberta are abjurants, meaning women who refuse to adhere to the Eugenics Program imposed by the Government. They consequently are confined to an unknown location and used as test subjects. Their only purpose in life is recalling their lovers’ faces.

“No Dominion,” United Kingdom. Directed by Georgios Dimitropoulos – On a random winter weekend in beautiful Wales, three travelers, an American and a French couple, come to a Swansea getaway for very different reasons.

Environmental Shorts

“An Island Out of Time,” Directed by Sandy Cannon-Brown and Dave Harp – Made in Maryland. This is a film about a remarkable couple, Mary Ada and Dwight Marshall, whose lives personify Chesapeake Bay’s waterman, seafood-harvesting culture and history. It is also about the four children who chose to break with that tradition. The film, like Tom Horton’s 1996 book, An Island Out of Time, is both celebration and elegy for a place beset with rising sea levels and erosion, pollution and harvest restrictions, and young people seeking opportunities older generations of islanders never dreamed of – all this seen through the lens of the Marshall family of Smith Island.

“Heartsounds,” Directed by Alan Chriest – The loving backdrop of penguins illustrates the similarities of their family life to that of humans, especially when grieving.

Emerging Filmmakers (Student)

“Never Too Small,” Directed by Mason Mirabile – The Earth is dying. Climate change is the most important issue the world is facing today. “Never Too Small” is a short documentary about climate change and how kids can help. Nine-year-old director Mason Mirabile, who filmed, edited and scored the film, asks experts at the World Wildlife Fund to help him tell his story.

“Night of Crabs,” Directed by Elyas Masrour – A group of citizen scientists help a peculiar species with unique characteristics, the Horseshoe Crab. Learn more about the Horseshoe Crab and how modern science is trying to save it.

Animations

“Fridge,” Directed by Eugene Kolb, United States – A woman is overcome by her carnivorous desires.

“Shy & Ketchup,” Directed by Teresa Romo, Chile – A shy girl obsessed with ketchup has to get out of her comfort zone when she runs out of her beloved condiment.

“The Bird & the Whale,” Directed by Carol Freeman, Ireland – “The Bird and the Whale” is a story about a young whale struggling to find his voice. After straying too far from his family to explore a shipwreck, he discovers its sole survivor, a caged songbird. Together they struggle to survive lost at sea.

Check chesapeakefilmfestival.com for more information or call Nancy Tabor, Executive Director, at 443-955-9144. Schedule of films is subject to change.

The Chesapeake Film Festival is generously supported by the Shared Earth Foundation, Maryland Film Office, Maryland State Arts Council, Talbot County Arts Council, Talbot County Department of Tourism, Artistic Insights Fund, Richard and Beverly Tilghman, Karen and Langley Shook, U.S. Small Business Administration, Talbot CARES Small Business Grant, and The Ravenal Foundation. Funding has also been provided to the Chesapeake Film Festival from Maryland Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.

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