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A Tale of Two Festivals

Scene from the film "Afghan Star." Scene from the film "Afghan Star."
The 5th Annual Newark Film Festival runs Sept. 10-17, 25-27. The 5th Annual Newark Film Festival runs Sept. 10-17, 25-27.
The 2nd Annual Chesapeake Film Festival runs Sept. 18-20 The 2nd Annual Chesapeake Film Festival runs Sept. 18-20

Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer. From now till October, which is the unofficial start of Oscar season, there is a lull in quality films.

This is especially true on Delmarva where art house films are hardly made available to us. Thankfully, two film festivals have arrived to give us film lovers on the peninsula something to do.

The Newark Film Festival on the northern edge of Delmarva kicks off its fifth year, Sept. 10-17. Immediately following, the Chesapeake Film Festival on western Delmarva launches its second annual event, Sept. 18-20. Newark will then bookend the month with encore presentations Sept. 25-27.

The Newark Film Festival will screen 25 titles at the Cinema Center 3 theater in downtown Newark, Del. The Chesapeake Film Festival will screen 22 at six venues, including the Avalon Theatre and the Academy Art Museum in downtown Easton, Md.

While both embrace independent and art house films that the handful of Delmarva multiplexes don't support. There is a slight, tonal difference between the two.

The Chesapeake Film Festival has a lineup of mostly international fare. The Newark Film Festival has more locally produced movies, which have an added appeal to homegrown or regional filmmakers who want to give their movies a platform.

For example, Ross Hockrow, the director of Detox, Steve Gonzer, No Denying, and Anthony Spadaccini, Ritual, are all from Delaware and are all having their new films play at Newark. Michael Ivan Schwartz, the director of Happy SAHD, a documentary on stay-at-home dads, is based out of Maryland and has his film playing there as well. No such local filmmakers exist at the Chesapeake festival. They're instead from out of our region and some even out of our country.

Debbi Dodson of the Talbot County Office of Tourism says the event in Easton will give audiences a world traveling experience through places like Iran, North Korea, Africa, South America and Afghanistan. In fact, one of the top-rated films screening in Easton is Afghan Star, a documentary about one controversial contestant on that country's version of American Idol.

Ironically, both festivals feature Afghan Star, a truly powerful movie. However, the Newark festival does offer more homegrown selections. Homegrown or not, these are the movies that one would never get the chance to see without festivals like this. There are a ton of titles of interest. Both fests are bringing filmmakers and film enthusiasts together to talk and discuss.

If you're interested and don't feel like wading through the 47 choices in total, here are my recommendations:

Newark Film Festival


Sin Nombre

In the Loop



Chesapeake Film Festival

Afghan Star

Prom Night in Mississippi

That Evening Sun


Yousson N'Dour: I Bring What I Love

Check The M Report for reviews of a few of these films.

Check out www.newarkfilm.com and www.chesapeakefilmfestival.com for show times, ticket information and more.
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