By Ron Matz

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—If you love movies this is a great weekend to be in Baltimore. About 20,000 people are expected to take in movies made in Ocean City and around the world.

Ron Matz reports the 16th annual Maryland Film Festival is underway.

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John Waters, Barry Levinson, Matt Porterfield are hometown hit makers. Now it’s the dawn of a new day for the Maryland Film Festival.

Festival director Jed Dietz says this year you’ll see movies at MICA and other locations.

“People will get to walk around the neighborhood like they do at a lot of festivals; Cannes and Sundance are spread out like this. It’s going to be fun. There are a lot of great bars and restaurants in the neighborhood that I think will be new to people and they’re going to have a lot of fun this weekend,” Dietz said.

Baltimore movie goers love independent films.

“When we started, we had no idea this community would respond to this kind of filmmaking, small independent films. The art film has grown beautifully. I go to other festivals and these audiences here are really very special and the filmmakers feel it, too,” Dietz said.

Filmed in Ocean City, “Ping Pong Summer” stars Susan Sarandon. There’s buzz from the beach.

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“We program the best films we can without regard to where they’re made or who’s involved with them. We love showing local films and we’ve got some beauties this year,” Dietz said.

Filmmakers Mary Posatko and Emily Topper will debut “Baltimore in Black and White.” It’s the story of Topper’s family whose patriarch was murdered in 1972.

“This is our premiere. It’s the first time any audience will ever see it. We’re just feeling so happy that we were able to get it done in time and that we’re going to share it with the hometown crowd before anybody else gets to see it,” Topper said.

“We couldn’t be happier,” Posatko said. “We couldn’t have imagined a better place. The reception has been so warm. We know everyone here will really understand what we’re trying to do.”

The festival’s tent village will be here on North Avenue near Howard Street as the five-day event expands to the Station North Arts District.

“We’ve pushed farther into Station North. This is our home base. The Brown Center at MICA, some UB spaces and we’re developing the old Parkway Theater into a three-screen film center over the next few years,” Dietz said.

More than 100 films will be shown at the Maryland Film Festival. The festival continues through Sunday night. For ticket information, click here.

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