As he gears up for the May 5-8 film-a-palooza, MFF director of programming Eric Hatch rubs his weary eyes, steps away from the screening room, and submits himself to The Baltimore Grill.
What book or film most changed your life?
Reading Crime and Punishment in high school made me want to be a writer, the '90s rereleases of The Conformist and Le Samourai suggested that film might take over, and seeing Fassbinder's Satan's Brew sealed the deal.
What is the greatest problem facing Baltimore today?
My passion, trivial in comparison [to the larger problems], is to be one spark toward the film scene exploding over the next decade the way the music scene did over the last. Accomplishing this will take, among other things, new (or revamped) venues dedicated year-round to repertory, international, and truly independent cinema.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. This is actually in the works.
If you could write Baltimore's motto, what would it be?
"Incrementally more livable than in the recent past."
How many movies do you screen in advance of the festival?
There's a six-month period each year, just now coming to an end, during which I watch roughly 500 to 600 films.
Does it get mind numbing?
Mind-numbing, eye-searing, and life-consuming.
Is there a specific MFF "type" of film?
Quality leads the process, with issues of diversity—in genre, perspective, nationality, ethnicity, and sexuality—factoring into our decisions. Our motto is "Film for Everyone," and that's a very real goal for me.
Do you think the digital revolution is a good or bad thing for the state of indie movie making?
Both at once. Highly creative voices that might not've been able to make a feature 20 years ago have the means to do so now. So do frat boys momentarily convinced by alcohol that they're the next Tarantino or Apatow.
Best MFF film discussion you've attended?
2007 was my first year working with the festival, and one of my selections was the controversial feature Zoo (a documentary about bestiality). The film ended to a deafening silence. Then from the middle of the theater, John Waters called out, "Did that one horse really give that other horse a BJ?" The house erupted in laughter, a dozen hands shot up, and a mature, almost glowing discussion followed.