3rd Annual Ocean City Film Festival This Weekend

3rd Annual Ocean City Film Festival This Weekend
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OCEAN CITY — One hundred-plus films, eight venues and three great days is all one needs to know about the Ocean City Film Festival, which is set for this weekend.

Starting Friday, 3rd Annual Ocean City Film Festival will showcase the works of local, regional and international filmmakers in practically every genre at different venues in and around the resort area. Sponsored by the Art League of Ocean City and the Town of Ocean City, the festival will feature critically acclaimed productions from full-length features to mid-length and short films and from drama to comedy and horror and social commentary.

Local filmmakers and filmmakers from around the country and beyond have submitted films to be judged this year. In addition, three films were produced by the Art League of Ocean City and will make their public debuts during this week’s film festival. Others are already gaining critical claim, including “The Biggest Little Farm,” directed and produced by Stephen Decatur High School graduates John Chester and Erica Messer.

“We have local films, films from all over the world and films that can’t be seen anywhere else but in Ocean City at the festival,” said Ocean City Film Festival Director William Strang-Moya. “We will also be screening a film that will be shown at Sundance this year. The festival and our selection of films are truly getting bigger and brighter every year.”

“The Biggest Little Farm” made its debut at the Telluride Film Festival to rave reviews and was also featured at the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival. Art League of Ocean City Executive Director Rina Thaler this week said the film, which makes its local debut on Saturday at the Performing Arts Center at 2 p.m., is likely the highlight of the 2019 Ocean City Film Festival.

“The highlight is going to be ‘The Biggest Little Farm’,” she said. “That’s really going to raise the level for the Ocean City Film Festival.”

While the line-up features over 100 films in every genre from all over the country and beyond, the festival will also have a decidedly local flair. For example, also in the line-up is a full-length documentary featuring the Ocean City Beach Patrol, which shows on Friday at the Fox Gold Coast Theater at 4 p.m., and “Five Days in August,” a documentary that follows two teams competing in Ocean City’s own White Marlin Open, which screens at the Carousel Hotel on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.

The list goes on but there is something for everyone among the 100-plus films that will screen at venues around the Ocean City from Friday through Sunday. The festival kicks off on Friday with an opening reception at the Princess Royale Hotel where film enthusiasts can mingle with the filmmakers. The festival concludes with a party at Seacrets’ Morley Hall on Sunday when the winners will be announced.

A panel of Eastern Shore media and arts professionals will judge the films and present the awards, including the coveted Pink Flamingo for the film the judges deem most representative of Maryland life. In addition to the film screenings, the festival will also feature workshops on filmmaking at the Ocean City Center for the Arts at 94th Street throughout the weekend. Also, Maryland Film Office Director Jack Gerbes and Baltimore Film Office Director Debbie Dorsey will conduct a panel talk on making films in Maryland. Again, while the 100-plus films come from all over the country, more than a few were produced locally and feature local stories, Thaler told the Mayor and Council on Monday.

“Not only are many of these filmed in Maryland, but a lot of them were filmed in Ocean City,” she said. “Much of the film festival really highlights the Town of Ocean City.”

The inaugural Ocean City Film Festival was held in June 2017 and was the first of its kind in the resort. In 2018, the festival was moved to the offseason to better accommodate traveling filmmakers, and perhaps more importantly, help stimulate the local economy during the shoulder seasons. Thaler told the Mayor and Council this week from its nascent beginnings in 2017, the festival is already attracting national and international attention with an almost unlimited upside potential.

“I see a huge potential with this for Ocean City to build upon,” she said. “People make a whole weekend out of it. Not only are they watching the films, but they’re enjoying the rest of what the town has to offer.”

Mayor Rick Meehan agreed with the growth potential for the popular annual event.

“What you’ve done in two years now going on three is phenomenal,” he said. “I’m looking forward to this and I hope everybody gets out to this festival. As locals, we don’t always take advantage of the opportunities right here in front of us and this is one of those opportunities.”

Venues for the festival include the Performing Arts Center, the Fox Gold Coast Theater, the Princess Royale, the Carousel, the Clarion, the Francis Scott Key Resort in West Ocean City and the Center for the Arts at 94th Street, among others. Screening times, ticket information and links to hotel packages are available at www.ocmdfilmfestival.com or at the Art League facility at 94th Street.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.