By Sean Yoes, AFRO Baltimore Editor, [email protected]

For devotees of more avant garde cinema offerings, the Maryland Film Festival (MFF) has grown in power and prestige over the last 21 years and the festival, which runs this year from May 8-12, has earned a burgeoning national reputation for presenting a wide-range of films that elicit visceral responses from audiences.

This year is no different. The 21st MFF presents another sparkling array of movies ranging from miraculous to outrageous, and once again features several films focused on fascinating figures from Baltimore, while some stories are crafted by outstanding Baltimore artists.

The MFF staff has compiled a list of festival films exclusively for the AFRO, which may be of particular interest to our readers. Among those films is the mini-documentary, “Sage,” a film by Baltimorean Gabe Dinsmoor, focused on the pride of West Baltimore, Erricka Bridgeford, co-founder of the Baltimore Ceasefire movement (see Sage story in Baltimore section). Here is a list of MFF movies curated specifically for AFRO readers.

Our new BALTI-SHORTS program, with 5 short films made in Baltimore, including SAGE, the documentary about Erricka Bridgeford and Baltimore Ceasefire.

MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL. The new documentary from Stanley Nelson which is going to be co-hosted by Lonnie Liston Smith!

Miles Davis, the transcendent jazz musician is the subject of award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s latest documentary, “Miles Davis: Birth Of the Cool,” one of dozens of films playing at the 21st Maryland Film Festival, May 8-12. (Photo courtesy of Maryland Film Festival)

DECADE OF FIRE: In the 1970s, maligned and neglected by the city government, the Bronx was on fire. Bronx native Vivian Vazquez exposes the truth about the borough’s sordid history and reveals how her embattled community chose to resist, remain and rebuild

“Decade of Fire”. (Courtesy Photo: 2019 MD Film Festival)

RECORDER: The Marion Stokes Project: Beginning in the 1970s, Marion Stokes recorded an incredible 70,000 VHS tapes of unfiltered daily television. Revisited through the lens of today’s media landscape, Stokes’ life’s work becomes an extraordinary archive of television—and American—history.

“Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project”. (Courtesy Photo: 2019 MD Film Festival)


The summer before she leaves for college, Ayanna meets handsome and mysterious outsider, Isaiah; and her entire world is turned upside down as she navigates the demanding terrain of young love against a changing Harlem landscape.

“Premature” (Courtesy Photo: 2019 MD Film Festival)


In a small agricultural town in the Florida Everglades, hopes for the future are concentrated on the youth. Four teens face heartbreak and celebrate in the rituals of an extraordinary senior year

“Pahokee” (Courtesy Photo: 2019 MD Film Festival)