LEONARDTOWN, MD – Local film enthusiasts gathered in Leonardtown Saturday, July 16 to watch movies created by members of the community of all ages and backgrounds.

The second annual Southern Maryland Film Festival brought people from all over Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties and other states to watch locally produced movies of all genres.

“Many of the people that have submitted this year have the originality and creativity to produce engaging films. We have some people from Michigan, New York and West Virginia as well. Many who submitted work last year are back again this year,” said Theresa Wood, president of Friends of Leonardtown Theater.

Event-goers discuss films seen during the festival while gathered in the square for live music. 

Locations such as The Rex, Ye Olde Town Café, Leonardtown Art Center, Opal Fine Art Gallery and Gifts, Big Larry’s Eatery, Yellow Door Art Studio and St. Mary’s Ryken High School show films during the two day festival. After parties were hosted at Old Town Pub and North End Gallery.

Over 40 films fit into categories such as elementary, high school, short subject, feature, documentary in both short subject and feature length. Over two hours of film were sent to industry professionals for the 216 Jury nominated Films, with films ‘Jane Doe’ and ‘Farming the St. Mary’s’ winning in the fiction and documentary films categories.

More event-goers gather on the square for live music as the event was ending. 

A panel discussion–called the Devilish Details of Filmmaking–was also hosted. It included topics of discussion such as choosing and gaining approval of locations and incorporating music in films without violating copyright laws. Panelists included Peter Friesen, director of Education at Historic St. Mary’s City; Jack Gerbes, director of the Maryland Film Office; Andrew Heckel, who had been influential with working with The Discovery Channel; and Dr. Steven Johnson, professor of Music and chair of Communication, Art and Humanities at the College of Southern Maryland. 

When event-goers were not watching films, they could participate in workshops at the Yellow Door Art Studio such as “Tools for the Beginning Filmmakers,” ‘Making the Undead Come Alive” and “Animating in Film.” These workshops were designed to hone talents and expose film enthusiasts to different methods to make their ideas come to life on screen.

Community members of all ages could be found at the film festival. 

“If anyone is interested in submitting a film for the festival next year, know that your film could be watched by family members and friends, as well as community members. Where there is the appeal to put your video on YouTube to be watched and commented on by strangers, you know you’ll get feedback from people who actually know you at this event,” said Wood.

The number of films submitted and the diversity of artistic styles were sure to give the community a wide variety of perspectives about life in Southern Maryland and the human experience in general, said Dan Burris, mayor of Leonardtown.

Live music covering pop tunes to saucy dance music was featured on the square.

“It was hoped that by attending the festival and enjoying all of what the town has to offer, more people will be able to appreciate film as an art form, as well as support local filmmakers and become a part of the artistic community growing in the first and only arts and entertainment district in the Tri-County area,” said Burris.

After all the films were shown, event-goers were invited to enjoy live music in the square as the event closed down.

Sponsors included St. Mary’s County Arts Council, The Rex, Opal Fine Art Gallery and Gifts, Yellow Door Art Studio, Big Larry’s Eatery, Old Line Bank, St. Mary’s Ryken High School, The Good Earth Natural Foods Company, Sax Appeal, Port of Leonardtown Winery, Ye Olde Town Café, Quality Street Kitchen and Catering, Cheseline Tire and Auto, La Rive Breton, Kevin’s Corner Kafe, College of Southern Maryland, St. Mary’s County Commissioners, Debut Studios, T & T Sweeping and Port-O-Let Service, Inc., Blue Bird Massage, Olde Town Pub, Charles County Dive Rescue Team Company 13, Harold DeLauder, Forrest Hall Farm- Avie’s Place, Groove Span Trio, Tony Jones, Leonardtown Business Association, Elizabeth Pasieczny, Andrew Ponti, Rent-A Center, Seymour Town Properties, Andrew Smouse, Nicole Stewart, The Town of Leonardtown, Trophies by Design, Heritage Printing and Graphics, North End Gallery, Maryland Film Office and SOMD Entertainment.

Check out the festival website for a list of the films featured during the festival and for more information.

Contact Jacqui Atkielski at j.atkielski@thebaynet.com.