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Lights, Camera, Action! Md. Film Festival Kicks Off

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Ron Matz is an Emmy award-winning reporter who joined the Eyewitness...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — If you love movies, this is your weekend in Baltimore. The 13th annual Maryland Film Festival kicks off Thursday night.

As Ron Matz reports, some big names and local filmmakers will be the center of attention.   

The films are ready to roll and the tents are up. It’s time for the Maryland Film Festival.

“We’ll have over 100 films of all types from all over the world.  We have filmmakers coming in from France, the Congo, and, of course, North America.  We have shorts, documentaries, some fiction–all new and emerging into the marketplace. So it’s a real chance to catch things before they come around on PBS or in the theaters,” said Jed Dietz, Director of the Maryland Film Festival. “We go to film festivals, including Toronto, Sundance, Slamdance, smaller regional festivals, festivals in Europe, and we have an open submission process.  We cull through hundreds and hundreds of films to get the group that we bring in to the festival.  They come from all over.” 

There are local filmmakers like Ramona Diaz, director of the movie, “The Learning.”

“I was reading an article in the Baltimore Sun and it was just so odd to me the public school system here was recruiting teachers from the Philippines. I’m originally from the Philippines, but I live here now. It just intrigued me so much,” said Diaz. “One thing led to another and pretty soon I asked for permission to film in the schools. They said yes. I met the teachers. They were wonderful and pretty soon I was on a recruiting trip to the Philippines.”

Her film, “The Learning,” follows four Filipino teachers who come to teach in Baltimore City.

“The four teachers are going to be here. We’re going to do a Q and A. It’s just great because it’s home. It’s a fabulous festival. ‘The Learning’ will be shown Saturday and Sunday and it’s a fun film to watch,” said Diaz.

The Charles and MICA will be the center of the film frenzy.

Baltimore’s Matt Porterfield showed his “Putty Hill” last year, and eventual Oscar winner “The Hurt Locker” was also a festival first.

The tent village is on Charles Street. That’s where festival goers can meet the filmmakers.

“Across the street from the Charles is a tent village.  Everything there is free. All the panels and workshops are open to the public. You get to interact with filmmakers. You’ll have coffee with somebody whose film you saw the day before or bump into an actor that you saw in a film the night before and that’s part of the fun of it,” said Dietz.

The stars of “The Learning” are still teaching in Baltimore.

“The thing about these teachers is that they are still here.  They’re still teaching in the same schools. They’re still in the city. They haven’t gone to the suburbs to teach. They’re still in Baltimore City and that’s amazing,” said Diaz.

Entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte will be in Baltimore Sunday night for a screening of the movie, “Sing Your Song,” a documentary about his life.

For more information about the Maryland Film Festival, click here.

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