Citing the “lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and evolving filmgoing habits,” the Maryland Film Festival has canceled next year’s signature event, which showcases films from around the state and beyond, to focus on celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2024.
The festival announced this week that its board of directors had voted to postpone the annual event, which takes place at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway theater in Station North. This year’s festival took place from April 27 to May 1.
A letter from the film festival said the organization wanted to ensure it had “the time and resources to mark this milestone” of its upcoming anniversary.
“Our goal is to ensure that this organization remains vital for years to come, and we are confident that we will mount a spectacular 25th Maryland Film Festival in 2024, bringing films, filmmakers and audiences together in Baltimore,” the letter said. The group plans to spend the next few months coming up with a new business model and plan.
The Maryland Film Festival Board of Directors is made up of 23 members and two ex officio members, according to its website. The board includes John Waters, a filmmaker, and Jed Dietz, who is founding executive director of the film festival. Board chair Scot Spencer, vice chair Camille Blake Fall, and several other members could not be immediately reached for comment.
The letter promises that the festival will begin issuing refunds for the 2023 festival beginning next week. Those who have not received a refund by Dec. 10 should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sandra L. Gibson, executive director for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway and Maryland Film Festival, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Al Hutchinson, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore, said in an email to The Baltimore Banner that filmmakers have an “incredible impact on our city’s cultural renaissance.”
“The Maryland Film Festival is a community event that draws both residents and visitors alike,” he said. “We look forward to supporting the Maryland Film Festival as they reimagine their model and bring the festival to new heights for their 25th anniversary.”
Monica Lewis, the director of communications for Mayor Brandon Scott, said the hope is the hiatus will result in an enhanced film festival experience.
“We are confident that, with the postponement, organizers are taking the necessary time to develop and implement a plan that will allow the festival to return bigger and better in 2024 and we look forward to working with them to ensure that festival attendees have the enjoyable experience that they deserve,” she said.
This story will be updated.