This year was a historic one for the Maryland Film Festival: in addition to it being the 19th annual festival, the Festival introduced its new year-round home, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway. The restored theater, referred to as The Parkway, hosted the bulk of the screenings at this year’s festival. The Maryland Film Festival has restored the original auditorium and added two new screens in an adjacent space for three screens total. Festival-goers saw The Parkway as an energetic hub of activity this year, which was complemented by screenings, parties and events throughout Station North.
On the history of the theater, Eric Allen Hatch, programming director of Maryland Film Festival, notes, “The Parkway’s original auditorium opened as a movie theater in 1915, among the largest and most elegant theaters built for film exhibition in Baltimore to that date. It re-branded as an early art-house cinema in the 1950s, and continued in that mode until closing in the late 1970s.”
Hatch also emphasized that The Parkway will specialize in a mixture of emerging independent, foreign, and documentary films of the kind highlighted during the annual Maryland Film Festival, alongside repertory programming drawing from all eras, regions and genres of film history.
He shared a list of historic firsts at The Parkway in the 21st Century:
—first film screened: Jessica Kingdon’s “Commodity City” [as part of Opening Night shorts] —first feature: Barry Levinson’s “Wizard of Lies”
—first theatrical feature: Theo Anthony’s “Rat Film”
—first Baltimore-made film: Theo Anthony’s “Rat Film”
—first 35mm print: Agnès Varda’s “Vagabond,” introduced by musician Beach House
Beyond screenings, the festival organizers also hosted talks with filmmakers, dance parties, and the Opening and Closing Parties, where filmmakers and local musicians partied with attendees. Baltimore-area photographer Jen Mizgata took these instant photos over the course of the five-day festival.