Coming soon to a university near you--midnight madness, a Japanese gore-fest, The Art of Professional Wrestling and a whole bunch of "crazy flicks." Looks like the Johns Hopkins Film Society is trying to put the camp back into campus.
The student-run group will present its second annual Johns Hopkins Film Festival this week, an event that will showcase more than 60 feature-length and short films, which will be shown in three venues on the Homewood campus. The festival's first three nights also include a midnight film show, featuring the Maryland premiere of Evil Dead Trap, a cult-classic horror film from Japan.
Festival organizers said a concerted effort was made this year to emphasize fun and to cater to a wider variety of filmgoers. The list of films runs from comedies and dramas to those in the cult horror genre, dark comedies about death, and documentaries on such topics as war and the rebirthing movement, a breathing technique with claimed healing powers.
The event will kick off at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 15, with the Maryland premiere of The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, a movie produced by The Shooting Gallery, a New York-based production studio whose films include Laws of Gravity, Trouble and Sling Blade. Directed by Martin Duffy, the movie stars Janeane Garofalo and Elijah Wood.
Another Maryland premiere will be of the Miramax film God Said, "Ha!" starring Julia Sweeney of Saturday Night Live fame. The movie is based upon Sweeney's critically acclaimed stage play of the same name in which she portrays herself and various family members during a difficult time in her life. The movie won Best Film at the Seattle Film Festival and the Audience Award at the New York Comedy Film Festival.
Teddy Chao, the festival's director, said premiering these films adds "a lot of legitimacy to the festival" and builds upon last year's success. The first-ever Hopkins Film Festival drew more than 2,200 non-Hopkins attendants and was picked by Baltimore magazine as the year's best film series.
The Film Society started the festival to provide a forum for feature-length and short films that the public wouldn't otherwise see.
The four-day festival--funded by a number of departments, the Student Council, the Student Activities Commission, the deans of students and student affairs and the Young Alumni Fund--will include 14 features and more than 45 short and long short films. Screenings will be held at Shriver, Gilman and Shaffer halls.
The event also will include a local filmmakers showcase and a free filmmakers panel that will feature, among others, representatives from The Shooting Gallery and from Giant Robot, a popular underground culture magazine.
The Film Society, which set up a Web site to attract those in the independent film community, received 150 videos from filmmakers in places as nearby as Baltimore and as far away as Australia and Korea.
Mike Jasik, festival co-chair, said the selection committee had to make "a lot of tough choices" in deciding what films would make the cut. Dan Humire, a junior majoring in biology, is the festival's other co-chair.
"It's tough. But we didn't want to discourage [the filmmakers] from making any more movies," said Jasik, a junior majoring in political science. "For some, this is their first time submitting a film."
Jasik seemed particularly fond of one of the late arrivals.
"There was this film called Bougainville--Our Island, Our Flight that is just an amazing documentary. It came in late, but we really didn't care," Jasik said.
The documentary, by an Australian filmmaker, is about the inhabitants of Bougainville Island and their 10-year struggle for independence from Papua New Guinea. Jasik said he was impressed by the director's courage to complete the project.
"It's even hard to get to the island because it's constantly being bombed," Jasik said. "It's guerilla-type filmmaking."
Chao said that because the committee received more videos this year, they were able to put more of a personal stamp on the final product.
"These movies are perfect for us. They are our taste," said Chao, a senior double majoring in film and media studies and in computer science. "This year we tried to do all the things we couldn't do last year. We tried to get more speakers involved and to show a lot more films."
The films Chao is most excited about are Evil Dead Trap and Six-String Samurai, which he describes as a mixture of Kurosawa samurai, rock-a-billy and "post-apocalyptic Mad Max type stuff." Both will be shown in conjunction with MicroCineFest, a Baltimore underground film festival.
Admission to all events is free for Hopkins students, staff and faculty; tickets for the public are $3 per show, $20 for a festival pass.
For more information, visit the festival Web site at http://www.seether.com/filmfest.