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What's Up Magazine

A Celebration of Filmmaking

Sep 15, 2011 05:39PM ● By Anonymous
Band Together, a documentary about the Kent County Community Marching Band by Chestertown's resident Kurt Kolaja is one of the featured films at this year’s festival.

From the opening night screening of  The Last Rites of Joe May with filmmaker Joe Maggio and actor Dennis Farina, to the closing night panel discussion with filmmaker Richard Chisolm, after the showing of his documentary Cafeteria War, this year’s Chesapeake Film Festival has a wide variety of offerings and venues.

“The fourth annual Chesapeake Film Festival will screen a fascinating assortment of some 30 films from around the world in four Eastern Shore Counties: Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot,” explains Executive Director Margaret Tessier. “Many of our films will show twice or even three times to accommodate the new venues in Chestertown and at Chesapeake College. Narrative, documentaries, short films, children’s films, and classics, and even a western make up this year film slate. With award-winning films from festivals like Sundance Toronto, Cannes, Tribeca, SXSW, and the New York International Children’s Film Festival, the Chesapeake Film Festival has something for everyone.”

Begun in Easton in 2008, the festival has continued to grow and expand each year to reach more of the Eastern Shore population.
“This year’s film locations include the historic Avalon Theatre, Academy Art Museum, the Historical Society Auditorium, and Easton Premier Cinemas,” explains Festival Director Rhonda Thomson. “Gallery 447 is the host of our Cambridge films and will have screenings both Saturday and Sunday. Chestertown’s Garfield Center for the Arts at Prince Theatre will have films all day and into the evening on Sunday, September 25th. And on Monday, September 26th, the Louis Cadby Theatre at Chesapeake College will show two films and these screenings will be free for students. It is exciting for the CFF team to see our festival grow and expand throughout the Eastern Shore.”

“The most exciting growth for me personally has been we are now seeing CFF Alumni Filmmakers are eagerly returning with their latest films,” explains CFF Artistic Director Doug Sadler. “This speaks well of our focus on treating filmmakers well and the intelligence and engagement of our audience. For instance, in 2011 our opening night film The Last Rites of Joe May which tells the story of the redemption of a small time Chicago hustler, played by Dennis Farina and our very first World Premiere Band Together are both by returning CFF filmmakers. Joe May was written and directed by Joe Maggio, whose film Bitter Feast was in CFF 2010 and the world premiere of Band Together a delightful documentary about the Kent County Community Marching Band was directed by Chestertown's own Kurt Kolaja, who showed portions of Band Together as a work in progress at CFF 2009 and whose film Charlie Obert's Barn played in CFF 2008.”

Independent filmmaking is a labor of love. As explained by Kolaja in the describing the making of  Band Together, “It took a couple of years to do,” says Kolaja.“One great difficulty was shooting them with one camera. I had to run a lot. Not something I choose to do regularly. The greatest challenge by far, however, and I don't know if I really pulled it off, was to understand, and thus clearly explain, what community is. The word is splayed across their banner: The Kent County Community Marching Band. Not the makings of the titillating fare common these days, the topic community, but one that would do each of us some good to explore. “

Serving the community is part of the mission of the Chesapeake Film Festival, and this year’s programming indicates the mid-Shore has a lot to look forward to during the weekend of September 23rd through Monday the 26th.

When You Go
Chesapeake Film Festival September 23rd-26th
Tickets: $10 for adults.  (Some films are free for children.)
To access prices, locations and schedule call 410-822-1012 or visit