EASTON - Join filmmakers and friends at two stunning venues in Easton for the 2022 live Chesapeake Film Festival, Sept. 30 through Oct. 2. Then continue the adventure at home for the virtual festival Oct. 3 through 9.
The live festival returns to the historic and visually spectacular Avalon for an evening of environmental films on Friday and films by and about women on Saturday. Originally built as a cinema in 1921, the Avalon is the prime venue of the Mid-Shore area for the arts.
On Sunday, The Chesapeake Film Festival moves to the newly restored Ebenezer Theater thanks to the generosity of Paul and Joanne Prager and Bluepoint Hospitality. The magnificent venue was built in 1856 for the Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal church. In the mid-20th century it was sold and used as the headquarters of the Historical Society of Talbot Country. The Pragers bought it in 2014 and have transformed it into a state-of-the-art auditorium while maintaining its original features including stained-glass windows and gothic arches and period wallpapers.
In addition to the two impressive indoor venues, the Chesapeake Film Festival will host an outdoor VIP reception Friday at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center, another Easton site with a remarkable history. ESCC was transformed from two historic buildings that were abandoned and fire-damaged into an ultramodern hub for area nonprofits dedicated to environmental stewardship.
“We are thrilled to have such gorgeous and meaningful venues for our festival,” said Cid Collins Walker, CFF’s festival director. “The ambiance helps us share the history and grandeur of Easton with our audience. The festival is more than films; it’s a celebration of the community.”
Opening the festival is the world premiere of an environmental short, “The Search for the Cooper River,” by local favorites Dave Harp and Sandy Cannon-Brown. The film follows a group of teens on a six-day expedition along the neglected Cooper River in Camden, N.J., as they kayak, hike and hack their way through overgrowth in search of the source of a river hidden in plain view.
The second film, “Upstream, Down River” by returning filmmaker Maggie Stogner, director of the Center for Environmental Filmmaking at American University, checks the health of our waterways. Clean water is vital to keeping our ecosystems healthy and sustaining our human civilization. But as this provocative film reveals, 50 years after passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 nearly half of U.S. streams, rivers and lakes are so polluted that they are no longer safe for fishing, swimming or aquatic life.
Capping the evening is an enthralling environmental short by Michael O. Snyder, “Into the Dark,” about the effects of small traces of light which may be radically altering the mysterious world of the polar night. The cinematography is astounding, especially since most of it was shot in the dark.
Saturday’s events celebrate films by and about women. The evening begins with “The Glorias,” about the early life of Gloria Steinem. This thoughtful biodrama was directed by Julie Taymor, best known for her stage adaptation of “The Lion King” and her Oscar-nominated film “Frida,” about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
The second film, by director Pamela B. Green, “Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy Blaché,” rewrites film history, revealing the life and work of cinema’s first female director, screen writer, producer and studio owner. The film, narrated by Jody Foster, unfolds as a detective story as it shines a long-overdue spotlight on a phenomenal woman.
Sunday at the Ebenezer Theater promises to be a fun and uplifting tribute to a famous director, William Wyler, by his very accomplished daughter, Catherine Wyler. Take a “Roman Holiday” with Audrey Hepburn in Wyler’s endearing film about a European princess who takes off for a night while in Rome and ends up with an American reporter played by Gregory Peck. Then learn more about Wyler from his daughter as she hosts and discusses “Directed by William Wyler,” a film that celebrates his life and career as one of Hollywood’s most accomplished directors.
Beginning Monday, Oct. 3, through Oct. 9, people from around the world can experience more amazing films in a variety of lengths and genres as the festival goes virtual. These films, selected by a jury from a multitude of entries, proudly showcase the work of outstanding filmmakers from the shores of the Chesapeake to locations across the United States and in four other continents.
For more information about the 2022 Chesapeake Film Festival, visit chesapeakefilmfestival.com.