State Senate Approves O’Malley Gun-Control Bill — The State Senate on Thursday approved a Gov. Martin O’Malley (D)-backed gun control bill 28-19 one day after the House of Delegates ushered it through. It’s one of the most restrictive gun control bills in the county, with a ban on assault weapons, an ammunition limit of 10 rounds, a license and fingerprint requirement for all new handgun sales and a ban on gun ownership by the mentally ill. [Washington Examiner]
“Moorish Nation” Mansion-Squatter Charged — Lamont Butler, the Maryland man who police say broke in to a vacant Bethesda mansion and said it belonged to him because it belonged to “his people and his tribe,” was indicted by a grand jury of burglary, conspiracy, attempted theft and identify fraud. [Washington Post]
Chevy Chase Oscar Winners To Show Film — The husband and wife documentary team won an Oscar for their short film “Inocente,” which they’ll be showing to audiences at Avalon Theatre (5612 Connecticut Ave., NW) on April 11. [Chevy Chase Patch]
Walter Reed Pharmacist Released From Jail On Lesser Chargers — Diana Lalchan, 27, the Walter Reed pharmacist who police say killed her husband in their D.C. home, was released from jail on Wednesday by a judge who found enough evidence to support the possibility that Lalchan killed her husband Christopher Lalchan last week in self-defense. [CBS News]
A crowd of about 150 came to the inaugural Bethesda Film Fest on Saturday. With almost as many people shut out of the sold out event, organizers said it could grow by next year.
The Bethesda Urban Partnership and the board of its Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District created and ran the presentation of five short documentaries from local directors at Imagination Stage (4908 Auburn Ave.). After the films, the filmmakers answered audience questions.
The panel of judges — board members of the Arts & Entertainment District, Imagination Stage’s David Stern and American University’s Angelica Das — narrowed down a selection of about 25 shorts to five.
Two films — “The Plan” and “Rights of Butterflies” — touched on topics of local importance that may not have been as apparent to people in Bethesda.
“The Plan,” is a documentary/narrative that looks at gentrification and its effects on black-owned businesses in a rapidly changing Washington, D.C. “Rights of Butterflies,” chronicles a Silver Spring student’s attempt at getting into and paying for a college education despite her undocumented status.
“Oh, I think it definitely opens the community’s eyes,” said Arts & Entertainment board member Debra Moser. “I heard a lot of people say, ‘I didn’t know that. I didn’t realize that.’ It’s definitely the stories within our community people don’t even realize are going on.”
“Into the Lime Light,” follows an up-and-coming junior D.C. boxer as he prepares for a fight. “Baffle their Minds with Bullsh*t, Kerry Leigh,” looks at a New Orleans street performer with a unique product and unique outlook on life. One film with Bethesda ties, “Porchfest,” shows a special kind of block party in a Northwest D.C. neighborhood. It was made by two Bethesda natives.
Moser said the Arts & Entertainment District had the idea for the event last year and worked to gauge interest and make it different from popular film festivals such as the annual SilverDocs at the AFI Theater in Silver Spring.
While Saturday’s event was on a much smaller scale, there was obvious interest for more.
“We had this idea and we tried to figure out, was Bethesda ready for it? Would people respond to it,” Moser said. “I think they did. So I think there’s potential here to grow. We started with baby steps to see if it would have legs.”
And they’re excited about what the event could mean for the Bethesda arts scene.
Lance Kramer and brother Brandon Kramer made “Porchfest,” a seven-minute look at the one-of-a-kind block party Lance Kramer and a couple neighbors helped organize in 2011 in their Mt. Pleasant D.C. neighborhood.
The Hobart Street Porchfest will be celebrated for the third time this year, a “community showcase” of sorts that encourages neighbors to get to know each other through food, art, music and culture displayed on porches of the street’s homes.
The film emphasizes the vibrancy and potential of a city neighborhood, a topic Kramer and neighbor Tony Harvin discuss in the documentary as something typically associated with suburban communities. Kramer, who grew up in Bethesda, attended Walt Whitman High School and moved out of the area before returning to Hobart Street, said bringing the film to Bethesda represents “this life circle that I hope people really appreciate.”
“Aside from the day I was born, I grew up in Bethesda,” said Kramer, who was born in D.C. and whose grandfather and great grandfather lived in D.C. “For me, in a sense I felt like I had my own personal roots, my family roots. There was that personal part of me that really hatched together this idea to have a festival, which is really just kind of coming out of this love of the street.”
Harvin, a musician who spent his early childhood in a house on the street, came up with the idea after walking down the street and hearing kids and adults playing instruments in their homes. He got together with Kramer and others involved in established neighborhood social events and developed a simple framework.
“It was a little bit of a gamble, in that sense it was definitely a surprise to see all the ideas,” Kramer said. “There was a craft brewing station, somebody rented a moon bounce, there was a blues band and finger painting. Someone who I didn’t know set up a photography presentation. This event was basically saying, take something that you’re proud of, that you want to share or showcase that people might not know or appreciate about you and bring it out into the street so people can experience it.”
Kramer said he’d be shocked if the Bethesda Film Fest, the Bethesda Urban Partnership-sponsored event that will feature five short documentaries at Imagination Stage, doesn’t end up a big success.
“I think there’s already a strong film-going culture in Bethesda, now to take it one step further I think is really good,” Kramer said. “If you look at film festivals, they become these really good cultural catalysts. There’s something in the DNA of a film festival that I think has this really amazing power to do that.”
Photo via Meridian Hill Pictures
The stories of an undocumented Montgomery County student striving for a college degree, a group of Washington, D.C. neighbors who get together for a one-of-a-kind block party, a D.C. native who returns home to find gentrification, a Junior Olympic boxing champion and a high school dropout-turned New Orleans street performer will all be shown in the Bethesda Urban Partnership’s first-ever Bethesda film fest.
A panel of judges for the short documentary festival, set for Saturday, March 23 at Imagination Stage (4908 Auburn Ave.), selected the five films with area ties after putting out word about the event last fall.
Tickets are $10 and more information can be found on BUP’s website:
Baffle their Minds with Bullsh*t, Kerry Leigh
Film by Isabelle Carbonell, director/cinematographer/editor, and Sarah Cannon, film and video editor, Izaca Productions, Washington, DC
High school dropout-turned busker, Kerry Leigh’s imagination is for rent on the streets of New Orleans.
Into the Lime Light
(16 minuntes, 37 seconds)
Film by Deanne Canieso, John Dillon, George Washington University Institute for Documentary Filmmaking
Into the Lime Lite follows a two-time Junior Olympic Champion from D.C. as he prepares to fight a tough opponent from Northern Ireland in the Belfast-Beltway Boxing Classic. He’s on a solid path but his involvement in a fight almost gets in his way.
Film by Rachel Jones, senior film major at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore
A young woman returns to Washington, D.C. after graduate school and finds that her old neighborhood has been changed by gentrification.
Film by Brandon Kramer, filmmaker, educator and co-founder of Meridian Hill Pictures, and Lance Kramer, filmmaker, journalist, co-founder of Meridian Hill Pictures production company, Washington, D.C.
Porchfest tells the story of Hobart Street in Mt. Pleasant as it puts on a rich, vibrant showcase of a diverse community’s food, art, music, culture and history.
Rights of Butterflies
Film by Lara Moya, Laurel Gwizdak, Sandrine Emambu, Binyam Hundito, Zaid Jameel, Alan Marroquin, members of Gandhi Brigade, Silver Spring nonprofit that uses media training to teach leadership and social justice to young people.
Katya is an undocumented student in Montgomery County struggling to fund and continue her college education due to her legal status. We learn about Katya’s personal sacrifices in coming to the United States, where she constructs a new sense of home and her perseverance to achieve her ambitions and finish her education.
Photos via Bethesda Urban Partnership
As Abbey and crew filmed Friday on Bethesda Row, the scene was apparently real enough to encourage some passerby to try to hand the character money.
Abbey chose the particular spot on Bethesda Row, in the posh pedestrian Bethesda Lane section, because of its look and the way the surrounding buildings block out the sun. Filming near the popular Christmas tree caused a stir on Friday, as Black Friday shoppers walked by.
The film, called Chris and Carol, is a short romantic comedy based on a Christmas carol.
Abbey has shot in Bethesda before and has a producer who works in the area. The crew and budget were small, so they didn’t need a permit from the Maryland Film Office.
Curious onlookers and background noise were manageable, Abbey said, despite the rareness of a film crew in Bethesda.
Abbey hopes to release the film online soon.
Photo via Facebook
BUP, the county-funded nonprofit in charge of marketing and maintaining downtown Bethesda, is looking for filmmakers from Maryland, Virginia and D.C. to submit their five- to 20-minute documentaries.
Those selected will get a chance to discuss their films when they are shown on March 23 at Imagination Stage.
Information on the event and how to submit a film is here. The Bethesda Art & Entertainment District Board will pick five films, with help from Angelica Das, associate director of the Center for Social Media at American University’s School of Communication, and David Stern, director of Digital Media at Imagination Stage.
DVD entries must be submitted by Dec. 10. Notification of selection will be sent in January and the panel will select one additional film by an under-18 filmmaker.
Filmmakers who make it into the festival will get a $150 prize.
Nearby gym Equinox (4905 Elm St.) will offer a free dance class from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in its main studio.
Bethesda Row will offer free popcorn and Georgetown Cupcake will be providing free “Dirty Dancing” cupcakes to the first 100 customers at their 4834 Bethesda Ave. location.
Redwood Restaurant and Bar will offer watermelon martini specials.
Flickr pool photo by AmyMarieMoore
The 16th Annual Comcast Outdoor Film Festival for NIH Charities is returning to North Bethesda on Thursday after two years at The Universities of Shady Grove in Rockville, and there are even bigger plans for the event in the future.
Mid-Pike Plaza (11810 Rockville Pike), where construction is underway on the mixed-use Pike & Rose development, will host this year’s three films: “All the President’s Men,” on Thursday, “Midnight in Paris,” on Friday and “We Bought a Zoo,” on Saturday.
The movies begin at 8:30 p.m. each night, following live bands and food trucks.
Organizer Bob Deutsch said he is looking forward to bringing the event, which for years was held on the grounds outside the Strathmore Mansion near Tuckerman Lane, back to North Bethesda. Attendance slipped from about 3,000 a night to about 1,500 a night at Shady Grove.
“I don’t think it translated as well there. It really belongs where it’s home,” Deutsch said. “People have been coming to this thing for years and years and years.”
The event had to move to Shady Grove in 2010 after the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, which actually owned the grassy open area near Strathmore, sold its property to be redeveloped into luxury townhomes.
The changes could end up being a blessing in disguise for Deutsch, who said he’s thinking about transforming the event’s format in future years. Federal Realty, the owner and developer of Pike & Rose, has been receptive to the idea of keeping and expanding the film festival once its 3.4 million square-foot office, retail and residential development is complete.
“The likelihood is we’re going to try to find a permanent home there,” Deutsch said. “The ultimate vision as the property begins to develop is maybe to do some more smaller screens on different streets and move the festival in a more artsy direction. I don’t know that everyone shares it, but it would it would be more varied with performing arts and visual arts and multimedia.”
For now, the event will proceed as it usually has, with three films on three nights on one big screen. The movies are free and attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. Most of the space is asphalt. Proceeds from food and beverage sales go to the NIH charities. For more information, visit the festival website.