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Sharing Dreams and Telling Stories: Cid Collins Walker Discusses The 2018 Chesapeake Film Festival

Oct 04, 2018 04:00PM ● By Brian Saucedo

By Emma Moore

Cid Collins Walker, a local of Oxford, Maryland, is a fierce warrior in her efforts to make art and culture accessible for Americans in the 21st century. As the artistic director for the Chesapeake Film Festival (CFF), Walker works tirelessly to bring fantastic domestic and foreign films to the region.  

Before reaching this high point in her career, which she likened to “sitting on a cloud”, Walker gained tremendous experience and perspective from her work in varying artistic fields. She received her B.A. in painting from Scripps College in Claremont, California, and earned a fellowship from the highly competitive Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. Along with a successful career in painting and printing, Walker has also worked in the film and television industry for highly regarded companies including the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, Black Entertainment Television, Universal Studios, CBS, and NBC networks. 

In 2012, Walker directed and produced her own documentary, Arc of Light: A Portrait of Anna Campbell Bliss, which tells the story of American artist Anna Campbell Bliss. Her documentary earned significant attention, premiering at many museums around the country, and eventually airing on PBS network.  

Walker’s success has made her an inspiration for women in the film and television industries, fields that have historically been highly-dominated by males. Walker is passionate about films, stories, and sharing information with communities. In her work for the Chesapeake Film Festival, she cherishes the opportunity to help Americans, specifically Marylanders, experience astounding culture and art right in their own backyard—the Eastern Shore. Walker acknowledges the impact that film has on its audience, along with recognizing her duty, and the duty of her fellow artists, to showcase beautiful and compelling storytelling on-screen.

“America is about dreams at its core…We are, as designers and artists, the dreamers, and we’re the ones who believe it can be done. Is it difficult? You better believe it. Is it necessary? How do you get anywhere without it?” – Cid Collins Walker  

Cid Collins Walker is truly enthusiastic about this year’s CFF and encourages the local community to take part. The festival takes place Thursday, October 11th, through Sunday, October 14th, in Easton, St. Michaels, and Cambridge. Ticket prices vary and can be purchased at Whatsuptix.com. For more information about the festival, visit Chesapeakefilmfestival.com.

You received your B.A. in painting from Scripps College in Claremont, California, and since then, have gone on to have a successful career in art. As a completely different art form of its own, what originally made you interested in film and film-making?

I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and my grandfather actually decided to take my family there because he thought it would be a great place to raise children and he was interested in investing in outdoor movie theaters, like drive-ins. It helped us in Salt Lake to go have movies to see.  Then, as a child, my parents would take us to Los Angeles every summer. I saw Hollywood and was a part of that as a child. It was really an exciting time. I was born in 1952, and it was a wonderful, wonderful time when movies were still at their infancy, really compared to where they are now in American life. Having had that experience, I loved Disney films as a child and Alfred Hitchcock films and TV, like The Twilight Zone…all of that became part of my upbringing really. And then I studied foreign film in college, and I had the opportunity to see the greatest foreign films that were made at the time, like Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard, and other great foreign filmmakers. I saw those just after they had been made.

It’s the 11th year of the festival with an additional venue, the Dorchester Center for the Arts. What can the public expect from the Chesapeake Film Festival this year? Why should locals attend?

I think the biggest reason locals should attend is that there is such a strong cross-section of the type of films that are important. We want to reach out to those who want to be, and who are, culturally engaged, and to share with them as much of this information as we can.

We have 48 of the finest films in the world taking place in this region, and if I lived in this region, I would feel odd if I did not go see one of them. I think at some point, people should put down their cell phone, get out of their car, and come be a part of life.  

The other thing is that the Chesapeake Film Festival is ardently committed to helping the economy in our town, so younger people can get jobs and for those who want to have a career in the arts, learn about arts, or learn about stories. One of the things that’s so great about film is that you don’t have to read the book; you can just watch it. It’s got gorgeous scores, music, and stories. To me, what’s not to like? Tickets are around $12 dollars for a film! It’s such a great thing if you love cinema and you live anywhere. A film festival of this caliber in this region, Talbot County, that is one of the most gorgeous regions in the world, should be an absolute no-brainer as a ticket. You can get an all-inclusive, four-day weekend of absolutely fabulous things to do for $150. You get to see all films, go to all parties, and network until there’s no tomorrow. It’s really, really exciting, we believe, for this region and that’s why we are all committed to it.

The Chesapeake Film Festival takes place in Easton, St. Michaels, and Cambridge, Maryland, featuring over 48 films.  What is it like being the artistic director for this film festival? 

It’s so exciting. It has been a hard, hard road to the top. Now that I’ve arrived, the perspective is so, so exciting. Is it any less challenging? No. In many respects, it becomes more challenging because your responsibility to so many people is so great and a lot of people want that, but when you get this [type of position], you must deliver. When October comes and everyone comes into town, this needs to be good to go. We have become so comfortable in our own living room with things like Netflix, but the Silver Screen is a whole other thing, which has gone back to the ‘30s and ‘40s really. It’s an incredible tradition in this country and that’s something this festival is committed to and wants to continue in the future. It’s through supporting, developing, and creating events like this, that people have an opportunity to share.

This year, the Chesapeake Film Festival reaches its 11th year, featuring 48 films from all over the globe. Looking ahead, what are some major goals for the Chesapeake Film Festival? Where do you see this festival headed in five years?

A big goal for us is to, hopefully, have more sponsorships and greater support from the community, from businesses, and leaders. Ever since 2008 when the economy fell, everyone in business has had a hard time coming back, so that’s why sharing is so critical because those of us who are artists have products. Our products are the films we bring from an international market. So, we have the product, and businesses need products, so you work with the bankers, bakers, restaurants. I have a very Renaissance point of view of all of this, about working together. This is all part of the progress that we endorse. We want progress for people of [younger] generation, for the nation, for the world. It becomes a battle, and I am a warrior. Risk-taking becomes part of it, and I’m not condoning that for everybody, but I’m certainly condoning that for the festival because it’s such an important venture for the community.