LBJ Kicks Off Annapolis Film Festival 2017

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LBJ Kicks Off Annapolis Film Festival 2017

LBJ, the Rob Reiner-directed drama chronicling the life and times of the legendary and controversial Texan who would inherit the Presidency at one of the most fraught moments in American history, will be the Annapolis Film Festival’s Opening Night film Thursday, March 30 at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts.

Starring Woody Harrelson as LBJ, Jeffrey Donovan as John F. Kennedy, Richard Jenkins as Senator Richard Russell, Jr., and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Lady Bird Johnson, this film with contemporary relevance is slated for theatrical release this summer. LBJ shows Johnson confronting the challenge of leading a nation still grieving its beloved President Kennedy, even as he grapples with urgent calls for social justice led by Martin Luther King Jr. Shrewd by nature even when he was appallingly coarse, Johnson emerges in Harrelson’s full-blooded characterization as a man willing to drive through landmark legislation partly on principle and largely on guts. Producers of LBJ include Reiner, Matthew George, Liz Glotzer, and Annapolis natives Trevor and Tim White.

Now in its fifth year, the Annapolis Film Festival (AFF) brings independent cinema to the Chesapeake with an extraordinary lineup of narrative, short, and documentary films. The Festival takes place March 30th to April 2nd, 2017 in downtown Annapolis. More than 70 of the world’s smartest and edgiest just-released films will be screened across the four days of the Festival, kicking off with the Opening Night Film at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts.

The Opening Night screening is followed by an After Party hosted through a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. Film screening venues include Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, the Francis Scott Key Auditorium at St. John’s College, Asbury United Methodist Church on West Street, St. Anne’s Parish Hall on Duke of Gloucester, and Annapolis Elementary School on Green Street. Panels will be held at the O’Callaghan Annapolis Hotel. Moviegoers can stroll through historic Annapolis between venues or catch the AFF-exclusive City Circulator trolley, a free ride when an AFF pass or ticket is presented.

Signature AFF programs include the Friday night African-American Experience Showcase, Chasing Trane, a Denzel Washington-narrated documentary about the origins and worldwide impact of jazz titan John Coltrane. This year’s Environmental Showcase presents the documentary The Islands and the Whales, directed by Mike Day and featuring pioneering ambisonic sound design by George Lucas’ Skywalker Sound. Other film topics include our Jewish Experience showcase, sailing, the military, politics, food, the LGBTQ community, global issues, current events, and the fine arts.

An array of Shakespeare-inspired short film programs features titles such as All the World’s A Stage and Farewell, Fair Cruelty. There is also a Local Focus showcase of locally-produced short films and a program of top-tier student films. The Juried Shorts competition returns to the weekend lineup.

“Coffee Talks with…” is an intimate opportunity for VIP passholders to hear behind-the-scenes talk about directing, acting, and producing. Hosted at Chesapeake Brewing Company with beverages provided by Baltimore Coffee and Tea Co., these informal morning chats take place 9-10 am, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Others are to be announced but some of the full-length features and documentaries in our 2017 film line-up are:

Narrative Features:

Burn Your Maps, directed by Jordan Roberts, shows the emotional turmoil experienced by an all-American family when their eccentric eight year old insists he is a goat herder from Mongolia.

Interlude: City of a Dead Woman, directed by Angela Ismailos, a USA/France/Greece co-production. Set on the Greek Island of Patmos, this is a story of three travelers’ heartbreak and loss.

Lilly and the Magic Pearl, directed by Anri Koulev. This Bulgarian family-friendly film tells of Lilly’s adventure under the water with the deep sea creatures. A tale of friendship and hope.

One Week and A Day, directed by Asaph Polonsky, from Israel. A modern, Jewish comedy about two grieving parents and how they attempt to regain a sense of control after loss.

The Tiger Hunter, directed by Lena Khan. A broad comedy about a young, Indian man who relocates to swinging 70’s Chicago. Stars Danny Pudi from Community and Jon Heder from Napoleon Dynamite.


Before the West Coast, directed by Oyd Craddock. Follows the 1960’s ruling that integrated all-black Augustine High School into Louisiana’s all-white Catholic high school sports assocation.

Bezness as Usual, directed by Alex Pitstra, a Netherlands/Germany/Sweden/Switzerland/Tunisia co-production. This broad appeal film shows unconventional families and a global perspective on cultural misunderstandings and failed expectations.

Breaking Point: the War for Democracy in Ukraine, directed by Mark Jonathan Harris and Oles Sanin. A harrowing examination of the Ukrainian lives violently disrupted by Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Check It, directed by Toby Oppenheimer and Dana Flor. This film, set in Washington, DC, shows the first gang of gay and transgender youth led by an ex-convict, Mo, who band together to fight other gangs and, unexpectedly, create a fashion line.

Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table, directed by Leslie Iwerks. The story of the doyenne of Creole cuisine and the force behind New Orleans’ restaurants, Brennan’s and Commander’s Palace.

Following Seas, directed by Tyler J. Kelley and Araby Williams, tells the tale of two sailors who steer their 53 foot cutter to places no small boat has been before.

Jackson, directed by Maisie Crow. Jackson, Mississippi has become ground zero in the nation’s battle over reproductive healthcare. The film tells the story of two women with very different viewpoints.

The Islands and the Whales, directed by Mike Day, a UK/Denmark co-production. The whale hunters of the Faroe Islands see their way of life threatened forever by changes in their environment.

Tickets cost from $12.50 for a single screening or panel to $125.00 for a general festival pass. The pass includes the Opening Night Film and After Party and unlimited films and panels for four days. Student and senior tickets are $10.00. Day Passes are $40.00 each and Student Passes are $50.00 for all four days.

Passes can be obtained from now with tickets to individual films available for purchase on March 1st. Check the website for times and locations of all events and screenings. Up-to-the minute changes in schedule can be followed on the AFF Facebook Fanpage and Twitter. Use the “Subscribe to Updates” button on the site to receive regular email updates.

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Press contacts: Carolyn, PR People,, 410-570-2441 or Lynn McReynolds, McReynolds Elek Communications,, 410-268-0275. Or call the Festival Office at 410-263-3444.