OCEAN CITY — The 5th Annual Ocean City Film Festival will be virtual in 2021, streaming to homes March 4-11. The festival is an initiative of the Art League of Ocean City that produces the festival along with broad community sponsorship.
“We have extended the festival to a week-long event in 2021 to give viewers more time to view all the films,” said B.L. Strang-Moya, Film Festival director. “In past years, festival attendees physically couldn’t get to see every single film. An advantage to this year’s virtual festival is viewers can watch almost all the films anytime they want during that week, in the comfort and safety of their own homes.”
Over the week of March 4-11, the festival will stream more than 80 independent films on the proven Eventive platform with menus and interactions similar to Netflix. The festival received more than 103 entries from around the world, and judges selected 72 films representing 15 U.S. states, including Hawaii, and 11 countries: Argentina, United Kingdom, Turkey, Canada, Iran, Belgium, France, India, Brazil, Spain, and Vietnam.
“This is a very high acceptance rate,” Strang-Moya said, “and indicates the quality of entries we received. These submissions are from filmmakers who were able to persevere despite the pandemic challenges facing the film industry. Ten of our films also come from the 2020 OC Film Challenge plus several invited films to be announced.”
Strang-Moya added, “We are grateful to have recently been named members of the Sundance Industry Office, a testament to the rapid growth and interest in our festival locally, nationally, and internationally. We will announce the full schedule of our invited feature films upon the completion of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.”
The festival will stream independent films in multiple genres: animation, dramatic shorts, environmental and aquatic, feature length, funny shorts, horror/sci-fi, short documentary, youth short films, and short feel-good films. Many of the shorter films will be grouped into blocks for easy viewing.
Salisbury-native Eric Walter will come home with a showing of “My Amityville Horror,” named one of the top 10 festival horror films, in anticipation of his upcoming feature, “Dark Side of the Mountain.” Walter who previously worked at WBOC, is a director, editor, and documentary filmmaker in Los Angeles, known for producing investigative non-fiction films. He has produced and consulted on numerous documentaries for film and television with a focus on cold cases and unexplained phenomena.
The feature-length documentary, “The Friendliest Town,” about racial injustice in Pocomoke City, will also stream during the festival. The film was directed and produced by Baltimore journalists Stephen Janis and Taya Graham and follows the career, firing, and court trials of former Police Chief Kelvin Sewell as well as town reaction.
The festival will include Zoom workshops, virtual filmmaker get-togethers, and other special events. The festival has also planned a follow-up in-person drive-in movie event on March 26-27 at the Ocean City Inlet Parking Lot, featuring “The Best of the Fest 2021,” weather permitting.
The films have not been rated, and some feature adult content. Viewer discretion is advised.
For the fifth year, Bishopville artist Ian Postley designed the official festival poster, incorporating iconic local landmarks with fantastical characters. This year’s design features a cast of robots parading under the Ocean City Boardwalk arch, marking a transition from an in-person event to an exclusively electronic event.
Festival passes go on sale Feb. 1, 2021 at OCMDFilmFestival.com or by calling 410-524-9433. Prices allow customization to create a personal viewing experience. Passes start at $10 per feature film or film block. Multi-film packages are also available: 6 features and/or film blocks, $49; 13 features and/or film blocks, $99. Virtual fans can see everything with an all-access pass for $149.