Do you like movies? Hey, who doesn’t? And if you’re somebody who wants to live in an area with a lot of culture — particularly as far as films go — you’ll be thrilled to know that Annapolis is a hotspot for filmmakers and filmgoers thanks to the annual Annapolis Film Festival. This nine-year tradition is even finding a way to navigate an ever-changing world, as demonstrated by its innovative choice to switch the 2021 slate to a virtual format during the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, Some Annapolis Film Festival Background
Both these women had accomplished backgrounds in the industry before starting the festival. Anderson was a producer of commercials and later broadcast news, as well as being a principal for FILMSTERS, a production and development company specializing in documentaries, reality TV, independent films, and digital content. White worked as a producer for CBS Reports and 60 Minutes, which earned her Emmy Awards and George Foster Peabody Awards, and has gone on to have credits with CBS, ABC, Lifetime, Discovery, Turner and other channels.
Their idea with the Annapolis Film Festival was simple but brilliant: They wanted to make Annapolis a place where filmmakers could “showcase their different global perspectives and independent thought to a wide audience.” Additionally, their work with the festival has brought the Annapolis community together for a shared film-watching experience and attracted film-loving tourists from all over the world to visit Annapolis for the festival.
In the nine years that’s it’s happened every spring, the festival has grown. It’s now known for featuring a slate of more than 70 films — including shorts, features, documentaries, animation, and more — and attracting more than 14,000 attendees.
And of course, the festival wouldn’t be complete with all the interactive opportunities like panel discussions, Q&As, and guest speakers, which give festivalgoers a chance to learn not only about the filmmaking process but also about the artistic mindset and goals of the filmmakers themselves.
What’s This About A Virtual Festival in 2021?
As with so many other events during the pandemic, the Annapolis Film Festival had to adapt by switching its format to a virtual one. And in many ways, it’s an exciting development that will help the fest reach more audience members.
With the advent of streaming services like Netflix, some movie buffs are actually finding they prefer to watch films from the comfort of their own home, so this is a huge win for them. But it’s also a huge win for the people who wouldn’t be able to travel to Annapolis (regardless of whether we’re in a pandemic or not). Now everyone can be in Annapolis together in spirit!
For 2021, AFF partnered with Eventive, a technology platform developed by indie film lovers that specialize in film screening. Festivalgoers can stream Eventive content through Roku, AppleTV, and Amazon Fire.
Thanks to the virtual format, this means the festival can take place over a longer period of days (no need to reserve those auditoriums), giving film lovers more flexibility to watch the films on a schedule that works for them. A typical AFF is only three days, but it will run for ten days this year, from Thursday, April 8, through Sunday, April 18.
What to Expect this Year
As is its tradition, AFF will include a wide range of thought-provoking content. This year’s theme is “We Are The World,” which works in two ways: Firstly, the slate of films will include work from all across the globe; secondly, and maybe more importantly, the entire world will be able to stream this year’s festival from anywhere.
Attendees have the option of choosing a Full Pass, which gives them unlimited access to all the festival programs — including all the features and shorts, plus panels and discussion — or the Shorts Pass, which gives them unlimited access to eight shorts. There’s also the option to buy individual features and conversations.
A Dedication to Film as an Art Form
Even for those who aren’t able to tune in for the 2021 festival, it’s great to know the Annapolis Film Festival is cultivating a film culture for local residents. As Derek Horne, director of programming, explained in a recent blog post “Why Are Film Festivals Important?” festivals have personality unlike the algorithms of streaming services that try to guess what you’re into. When you’re getting a slate chosen by a festival, you can expect programming that’s specially cultivated for community interest.
Furthermore, Horne explains, film festivals are about creating provocative discussion centered on the art you’re consuming, as well as creating a sense of civic pride.
Those in the Annapolis community who love film will be interested in joining AFF’s Annapolis Film Society, which started in 2018 with the organization’s experiment to screen films outside of festival season. This gave participants a chance to see documentary and narrative feature films before their wide release, often for films that wouldn’t otherwise get an Annapolis screening. The Annapolis Film Society can be joined for an annual rate of just $75 a month, or AFF is offering a lifetime membership for a limited time through April 30, 2021, for $2,500.
Interested in Learning More
Don’t be afraid to reach out to the festival to find out about opportunities to volunteer, get involved, or just express your interest in film. AFF is located at 107 Annapolis Street, Suite J, in Annapolis, or you can call 410-263-3444 or email email@example.com.