Every year on the first weekend of May, downtown Baltimore's streets bustle as tens of thousands of moviegoers visit local theaters to watch films shot, directed, and edited around the globe. The Maryland Film Festival, like a freakish hurdle sprinter, runs for five days and showcases about 50 feature films and 75 short pieces—ranging from documentaries to animations—many of which are presented by their respective filmmakers or celebrity guest hosts. Past hosts have included Ian MacKaye and Branford Marsalis, and legendary filmmaker John Waters regularly makes an appearance at the festival, hosting a feature film of his choice. Attendees may also stimulate and expand their sensory palates with special events that have included international flicks, three-dimensional movies, and vintage silent films synced to live music.
The thespians and theater crew at Fells Point Corner Theatre have enchanted audiences with nonprofit productions of new and rarely seen plays for 25 years. Upcoming attractions include Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, the 1994 Pulitzer Prize winner about three differently aged women who reflect on their lives with acerbic wit while scaling skyscrapers; and The Little Dog Laughed, a look at gossip and celebrity in the 21st century. Colorful characters populate Circle Mirror Transformation, a comedy detailing a motley crew’s attempt at bonding during a six-week acting class; Eugene O’Neill’s iconic play The Iceman Cometh explores universal social questions in the back room of a 1912 skid-row saloon. Though seating at the 85-seat Fells Point Corner Theatre is subject to availability, the small size of the theater allows for good sight lines from all seats.
Towering above the already-imposing 14-screen multiplex of Hoyts West Nursery Cinemas 14 is a luminescent globe encircled by a giant strip of film. It’s a sign of the theater’s mission to create an all-encompassing movie experience. Stadium seating inside every theater gives even the littlest family members undisturbed views of new releases, and digital sound systems broadcast musical numbers, high-tech explosions, and intercom requests to share your Skittles in crystal clarity. At the snack bar, traditional concessions are supplemented by made-to-order Uno pizzas.
Eastpoint 10 Cinemas showcases the latest Hollywood blockbusters on screens that face sloped or stadium-style seating. Digital and 3-D projectors entertain audiences with high-resolution images that virtually pop out of the screen, making viewers feel like a part of the film without having to actually fight off bloodthirsty aliens, wicked witches, or Gerard Depardieu. The theater occasionally pairs screenings with special tie-in events, such as karate demonstrations to go along with martial-arts flicks.
The Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric has a deep history that stretches back to the 1890s, when frequent polkas filled the air on summer evenings and the walls were decked out in beer-garden fashion. Throughout the following century, acts ranging from demonstrations of electric cooking to performances by Ella Fitzgerald and Robin Williams have inspired awe and given cause for recent restoration.
At Ginza Japanese Restaurant, fine dining is as much about the presentation as the taste. Hibachi chefs take to the dining room to cook up flavorful meals of filet mignon, teriyaki chicken, and fresh seafood right before diners' eyes, and then amp up the wow factor by constructing fiery volcanoes out of onion rings and making normally land-bound shrimp fly. The restaurant's sushi chefs are equally fastidious about presentation. Their selection of rainbow-hued makis include the fantastic roll, which features spicy tuna, salmon, and yellowtail, along with marble seaweed and tempura flakes.