The New/Next Film Festival, presented by 88.1 WYPR and taking place August 18-20, 2023 in Baltimore’s historic 5-screen Charles Theatre, continued its lineup announcements today with 5 more premiere announcements, including the world premiere of the MEMORY-produced feature documentary Carpet Cowboys.
Carpet Cowboys, directed by Emily MacKenzie and Noah Collier, embeds viewers in Dalton, Georgia, the “Carpet Capital of the World.” There we find the unsung creators behind the psychedelic carpets lining casinos, offices, and hotel hallways. Chief among these textile honchos is Roderick James, a Scottish expat with a self-styled outlaw-country manner—and countless schemes to grab himself a larger share of the American dream. Brimming with stranger-than-fiction characters, Carpet Cowboys delivers rich documentary portraiture and bursts of outrageous humor in the tradition of American Movie, Hands on a Hardbody, and Winnebago Man.
Executive produced by John Wilson (HBO’s How To with John Wilson), Carpet Cowboys’ New/Next world premiere continues the strong connection between the Baltimore film scene and MEMORY. Prior MEMORY productions include the Baltimore-based essay-film features Rat Film and All Light, Everywhere (both directed by Theo Anthony) and the creative-non-fiction feature Crestone by Baltimorean Ellen Marnie Hertzler. Previously announced for New/Next 2023 is Meredith Moore’s Sundance-premiered short documentary Margie Soudek’s Salt and Pepper Shakers, executive produced by MEMORY.
In addition to Carpet Cowboys, New/Next announced today the world premieres of four short films: Earth Seen from Above, a slow-burn Norwegian mind-bender from Harrison Atkins (director of Lace Crater, editor of Emily the Criminal); Gillian Waldo’s incisive documentary tracing the roots of a public-art initiative in Baltimore, Public Surfaces; and Pisie Hochheim and Tony Oswald’s intimate and poetic narrative Seeds. Additionally, Lael Rogers’s subversive horror vision The Influencer will make its U.S. premiere at New/Next, following quickly on the heels of its world premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia Festival. These stellar shorts are joined by the world premiere of Baltimorean Albert Birney’s 22 Rooms, already announced.
New/Next’s lineup announcements will continue through July. The festival, produced by Baltimore NPR News affiliate radio station 88.1 WYPR and curated by veteran programmer Eric Allen Hatch, conceived this first edition to fill the void left by Maryland Film Festival’s announcement that they would not have a 2023 event. “Our ability as a new festival to deliver U.S. and world premieres from great filmmakers is a testament to Baltimore’s continued importance as a center of gravity for independent film activity—as well as the film community’s excitement that the film-fest experience is returning to Maryland Film Festival’s original home venue, The Charles Theatre.”
All-access passes for New/Next are available now, and provide access to all New/Next screenings; an advance window for film and seat selection ahead of public ticketing; and attendance to all New/Next special events, including the Opening and Closing Night parties and concerts.
Support for New/Next Film Fest comes from the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund, creator of the Baker Artist Portfolios, The Abell Foundation, The Baltimore Community Foundation, The State of Maryland, The Maryland Film Office and The Maryland State Arts Council.
22 ROOMS (2023 Albert Birney) | EXPERIMENTAL SHORT
In your life you will enter many rooms. These are 22 of them. World premiere.
ANOTHER BODY (2023 Sophie Compton and Reuben Hamlyn) | DOC FEATURE
ANOTHER BODY follows a college student’s search for answers and justice after she discovers deepfake pornography of herself circulating online.
CARPET COWBOYS (2023 Emily MacKenzie and Noah Collier) | DOC FEATURE
In Dalton, Georgia, the “Carpet Capital of the World,” we meet the unsung creators behind the psychedelic carpets lining casinos, offices, and hotel hallways. Chief among these textile honchos is Roderick James, a Scottish expat with a self-styled outlaw-country manner—and countless schemes to grab himself a larger share of the American dream. Brimming with stranger-than-fiction characters, Carpet Cowboys delivers rich documentary portraiture and bursts of outrageous humor in the tradition of American Movie, Hands on a Hardbody, and Winnebago Man. World Premiere.
DAD & STEP-DAD (2023 Tynan DeLong) | NARRATIVE FEATURE
Jim and Dave, a dad and a step-dad, have trouble bonding during a 3-day weekend upstate with their son, Branson. Starring Colin Burgess, Anthony Oberbeck, Brian Fiddyment, and Clare O’Kane.
EARTH SEEN FROM ABOVE (2023 Harrison Atkins) | NARRATIVE SHORT
A tranquil day in the park is interrupted by the onset of an unnerving sensation. Two couples find their lives inexplicably intermingled. World Premiere.
GOOD CONDITION (2023 Frank Mosley) | NARRATIVE SHORT
Barry’s starting over.
THE GRAVITY [La Gravité] (2023 Cédric Ido) | NARRATIVE FEATURE
An unprecedented alignment of planets impacting gravity will upset the balance of a ghetto and the destiny of two duos of brothers eager to do anything for their freedom in an unceasing fight between old and new generations. Grounded by the deep relationship depicted between the brothers and capped off with an explosive finale, director Cédric Ido’s second feature is a bold entry in the sci-fi genre.
THE INFLUENCER (2023 Lael Rogers) | NARRATIVE SHORT
A social media influencer describes her perfect day harvesting the eyes and minds of her followers to achieve immortality. U.S. Premiere.
KING COAL (2023 Elaine McMillion Sheldon) | DOC FEATURE
A lyrical tapestry of a place and people, KING COAL meditates on the complex history and future of the coal industry, the communities it has shaped, the myths it has created. While deeply situated in Central Appalachia, the film transcends time and place, emphasizing the ways in which all are connected through an immersive mosaic of belonging, ritual, and imagination. Emerging from the long shadows of the coal mines, KING COAL untangles the pain from the beauty, and illuminates the innately human capacity for change.
MANDARINS (2023 Chelsie Pennello) | NARRATIVE SHORT
A black sheep attempts to eulogize her mother with a story about pigeons.
MARGIE SOUDEK’S SALT AND PEPPER SHAKERS (2023 Meredith Moore) | DOC SHORT
An artist and visual-effects instructor connects with her aging grandmother, Margie, through collecting, art-making, and obsessing as a way to enhance reality. Produced by Jonna McKone, executive produced by MEMORY (Rat Film; Crestone; All Light, Everywhere), and scored by Dan Deacon.
MAX ROACH: THE DRUM ALSO WALTZES (2023 Sam Pollard and Ben Shapiro) | DOC FEATURE
MAX ROACH: THE DRUM ALSO WALTZES explores the life and music of the legendary drummer, composer, bandleader, and social activist through a remarkable series of creative peaks, struggles, and personal reinventions—from the Jim Crow era to the Civil Rights years, surveying the heady days of post-war modern jazz to hip-hop and beyond.
OPENING NIGHT PARTY
Co-headlined by Baltimore hip-hop and club icons TT the Artist and Dapper Dan Midas.
PREP (2023 Raymond Knudsen) | NARRATIVE SHORT
A bodybuilding fever dream fueled by childhood trauma, food porn and acid techno music.
PUBLIC SURFACES (2023 Gillian Waldo) | DOC SHORT
In 1964, Baltimore became the second city in the country to pass a 1% for Art law, allocating one percent of the construction budget for any public building to commissioning a new piece of art. Most of the buildings were public schools, and by 2016, the city revealed that many of the pieces had gone missing. Through landscapes of Baltimore and depictions of the sculptures, the film explores the history of the program, the failures of modernism, the neglect of the school system, and asks who public art can really serve. World Premiere.
ROTTING IN THE SUN (2023 Sebastián Silva) | NARRATIVE FEATURE
Writer-director Sebastián Silva’s Sundance hit ROTTING IN THE SUN is a darkly funny and refreshingly audacious meta-comedy that skewers the business of filmmaking and our self-obsessed culture. While unwinding at a Mexican gay beach town, depressed director Sebastián Silva meets gregarious Instagram influencer Jordan Firstman (both playing versions of themselves), and Sebastián reluctantly agrees to collaborate on an upcoming project. But when Jordan arrives back in Mexico City, Sebastián is nowhere to be found, and Jordan embarks on a wildly unpredictable, quasi-detective journey.
We’ll never tell.
SEEDS (2023 Pisie Hochheim & Tony Oswald) | NARRATIVE SHORT
After a visit from the ghost of her grandmother, a writer secretly fosters the growth of a mysterious pepper plant in her mother’s garden. As the seed bears fruit, she begins to question the choices the women before her made, and her own role in her family’s lineage. World Premiere.
SOME DAY ALL THIS WILL BE YOURS (2023 Cricket Arrison) | EXPERIMENTAL SHORT
An increasingly unhinged pregnant woman gives a house tour. Equal parts horror and comedy, this queer autofiction short was shot in the filmmaker’s childhood home.
SOMEWHERE QUIET (2023 Olivia West Lloyd) | NARRATIVE FEATURE
Meg is trying to readjust to normalcy after surviving a traumatic kidnapping — but her grasp on reality soon starts to deteriorate when she travels with her husband to his wealthy family’s isolated compound. Starring Jennifer Kim, Marin Ireland, Kentucker Audley and Micheál Neeson.