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WYPR presents the first ever New/Next Film Festival

Cinephiles and filmmakers will have a chance to come together at this weekend’s New/Next Film Festival, presented by WYPR, who received grants from several organizations and the State of Maryland.

Last year, the Maryland Film Festival’s Board of Directors decided to pause screenings following poor turnout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The inaugural New/Next event is a stopgap for the Maryland Film Festival.

Throughout the weekend, from Aug 18-20, audiences will travel through their screens from the Dominican Republic to Tunisia at the inaugural event. Johns Hopkins alum Diana Peralta talked about the grueling schedule to create De lo Mio, one of the films which will be screened at the festival.

“We had 14 days to shoot,” said Peralta. “I had to bring my crew of faithful, film people from Hopkins. They were committed to helping me make it. We all flew down to the Caribbean and opened up my grandmother's home to shoot the film. And it was a miracle that we even got it done, because a feature in two weeks is crazy and miraculously it worked out.”

With more than 50 shorts and features to choose from, WYPR Director of Events & Community Engagement Sam Sessa said audiences are looking forward to one film in particular. Hint, it’s about Baltimore.

“The ‘Body Politic’ is this new documentary about Mayor Brandon Scott's first year in office and his struggles to keep the homicide rate down,” said Sessa. “It was our first screening to sell out, and the mayor will be at the festival to do a Q&A with WYPR's Tom Hall, and the filmmakers as well. It's gonna be a lot of fun.”

Tickets for the fest, which takes place at the Charles Theatre, are available here.

“This film festival is all about exposing you to new ideas and taking you out of your comfort zone,” said Sessa. “That's where we learn, that's where we grow. I believe that fine arts exist to make us talk, to start a dialogue and I hope that we can do that this weekend.”

Wambui Kamau is a General Assignment Reporter for WYPR. @WkThee
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