By Ron Matz

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — If you’re a film fanatic, Baltimore is the place to be for the next four days. The 17th annual Maryland Film Festival is underway.

As Ron Matz reports, this year it’s going to be much more than just movies.

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The tents are up at the Maryland Film Festival.

Festival director Jed Dietz says despite the recent unrest here, movie lovers and filmmakers are ready.

“I think this festival from the beginning has reflected the city in a very special way,” said Dietz. “Filmmakers immediately felt the special thing in Baltimore–the friendliness, the unpretentiousness, the interesting visuals. Filmmakers have really fallen in love with the city.”

“Charlotte” is a coming of age story about two 13-year-old friends, written and directed by Baltimorean Angel Kristi Williams.

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“I made the movie based on my experience as a teenager growing up in Baltimore,” said Williams. “I was here a year ago shooting the film, so it’s really exciting to bring it to Maryland and premiere it here for my family and friends.”

Baltimore’s David Simon will be here Friday night. Simon and a panel of writers are currently working on an HBO project about the civil rights movement.

“I’ve never seen anything like this at a film festival, its going to be special,” Dietz said.

And in some way with films about friendship, the festival could be just what the city needs.

“I think the city is ready to embrace the great medium of movies and the messages you get from them and the ability to talk about things. The amazing thing is how much support we’ve had from filmmakers and the rest of the community,” said Dietz.

More than 125 movies will be shown at the festival.

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For ticket information about the Maryland Film Festival, CLICK HERE.