Great news, movie buffs: Baltimore Public Media’s New/Next Film Festival is returning to The Charles Theatre this year for an expanded, four-day festival.

The festival, which was conceived after the 2023 Maryland Film Festival was canceled, drew about 3,000 attendees last summer. True to its name, New/Next is a celebration of emerging film culture. Adding an extra day will allow for more films and visiting filmmakers to be featured, organizers said.

“The landscape of independent cinema is always evolving, and I can’t wait to bring work by some of the most exciting new voices in film to our amazing audiences,” New/Next’s co-founder Eric Allen Hatch said in a statement.

The festival is slated for Oct. 3-6, and its call for entries opened Wednesday. Also new for the larger festival this year, New/Next will have “at least” two free screenings for the community, according to organizers.

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More than half of last year’s films were directed by women or nonbinary creators and more than half had direct ties to Baltimore or Maryland.

The festival will be headquartered at The Charles Theatre again, with some programming at other venues including Baltimore Improv Group, Metro Gallery and Mobtown Ballroom.

Kathleen Lyon, the owner of The Charles, said she was pleased the festival was returning, and that there was a palpable feeling “surging” last year.

“With New/Next now on the festival map, we expect 2024 to be even more of a success,” she said in a statement.

New/Next was pitched as a “stopgap” last year when the Maryland Film Festival announced it was canceled. Its 2024 return wasn’t guaranteed, though some screenings got close to selling out before the festival even began last year.

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The 2024 Maryland Film Festival is scheduled for May 2-5 for its 25th iteration, and it has a new director of programming.

“Baltimore has such a vibrant community of filmmakers and film lovers – there’s plenty of room for multiple festivals to not only coexist but thrive,” Baltimore Public Media President and General Manager Craig Swagler said in a statement.

A limited number of all-access passes for the New/Next festival are available during WYPR’s spring pledge drive, which began Wednesday.

The 2024 festival is supported by the Maryland State Arts Council, The Baker Artist Portfolios, The Leidy Foundation and the Baltimore Community Foundation. More information can be found on the New/Next Film Festival website.

Cody Boteler is a reporter on The Banner’s Express Desk, reporting on breaking news, trending stories and interesting things in and around Baltimore. His work has appeared in The Baltimore Sun, USA TODAY, Baltimore magazine and others.

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