After a year-long hiatus, Maryland Film Festival will return for its 25th anniversary with a new director of programming. The festival announced Thursday that KJ Mohr will take over the position and overlook all aspects of the event planned for May 2 through May 5, 2024.

“I am honored that MdFF has entrusted me with the task of curating this landmark festival,” Mohr said in a press release. “We are committed to showcasing the cinematic excellence that has become synonymous with MdFF, featuring star-studded premieres, hosting unique special events, and offering innovative experiences both within and outside the theater spaces.”

Mohr, who film chair Camille Blake Fall referred to as “a seasoned curator with deep experience” in the release, has worked with MdFF before, helping program previous iterations of the festival. Mohr has also held notable roles in numerous film festivals across the country, oversaw the film program at Creative Alliance, and is also an adjunct faculty member at Maryland Institute College of Art and George Mason University.

The Maryland Film Festival, which was launched in 1999 by Jed Dietz, showcases films of all genres from the state and beyond, and has long been a staple for the city of Baltimore. It was canceled last year in part to ensure that there was enough “time and resources to mark this [25th anniversary] milestone,” according to a letter from the organization sent in November.

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Soon after the cancellation, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theatre, where the festival took place, was also temporarily closed because of declining attendance. In its announcement Thursday, the festival noted that the beloved event will return to the Parkway after the venue’s unsteady post-pandemic tenure.

The city has not gone without film festivals in the absence of its most well-known: In reaction to the news that MdFF was not holding a 2023 event, WYPR and former Maryland Film Festival director of programming Eric Allen Hatch held the New/Next Film Festival in August to fill the void. Hatch previously told The Baltimore Banner that he’d be happy for both to coexist.

Sam Sessa, producer of the New/Next festival and WYPR’s director of events and community engagement, said Thursday: “We are thrilled at the announcement of the Maryland Film Festival’s 25th anniversary celebration. WYPR is continuing to examine the return of the New/Next Film Festival and hope to have news soon. 2024 is going to be a great year for film in Baltimore.”

In the meantime, Mohr is ready for the Maryland Film Festival’s return. “This festival is designed for everyone — Baltimoreans, Marylanders, and the numerous filmmakers who are drawn to MdFF for the unparalleled connections we nurture between artists and audiences,” she said in the release.

Mohr and Sandra L. Gibson, executive director for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theatre and Maryland Film Festival, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Taji Burris has covered the Baltimore music scene since 2015 for outlets such as The Working Title and The 4th Quarter, and now at the Baltimore Banner.

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