HAGERSTOWN — The motion picture industry got a taste of Hagerstown Thursday night as film director Jesse Baget reviewed his entertainment options for the weekend while the first Maryland International Film Festival-Hagerstown got under way.
Baget, who was attending a 5 p.m. VIP reception at the Washington County Arts Council, Inc., on Washington Street, said he was given a list of things he could do while he was here.
“Unfortunately, there’s no sporting events,” Baget said.
Civil War re-enacting was on the list, Baget said.
You like that?
“Not really,” Baget said.
“Ron’s here from “Gods and Generals.” I’ll bet he wouldn’t pass on that,” said Baget, referring to movie director Ron Maxwell who filmed the Civil War movie in the area.
Joking aside, Baget was excited to be in Hagerstown, and he was anxious to see the reaction of the public to a festival that will feature scores of films over the weekend.
Baget’s film, “White Knight,” was screened at The Maryland Theatre at 7 p.m. Baget, along with actress Olga Segura and others, walked into the theater on a red carpet Thursday night before the start of the movie.
Meanwhile, Maxwell arrived at the theater in a white limousine.
At the VIP reception, Baget, Segura, Maxwell, festival Director Tracie Donahue and others mingled with local dignitaries.
Segura, a Mexican actress, said she loved what she saw so far of Hagerstown. Segura, who said she does not have any family in the United States, was excited to explore the country.
Segura said most people are told about the big cities in the United States like New York and Miami, but she was fascinated with the historic landscape downtown.
“It feels like you’re in an old movie,” Segura said.
“She gets to see the real America,” Baget said.
Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said it was great to have such an event in the central part of the city, and he was looking for it “only to grow.”
“Pretty cool,” said Wayne Ridenour, president of the Washington County Board of Education. A portion of ticket sales for opening night were to be given to the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.
“That’s all right by us,” Ridenour said.
Donahue said she was impressed by the work that has gone into the festival and the financial support for it. At least 30 entities pitched in money to stage the event, she said.
“The stars are doing their part by coming into town,” Donahue said.
The private VIP reception was for sponsors and invited guests, said Tom Riford, president and chief executive officer of Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. People could also pay to attend the party, he said.
He was excited over the festival and the prospects for film business in Washington County.
Riford said in the last two weeks, two film crews have inquired about places to film in the area, which he attributed to the buzz about the festival.
Riford said one of the films scheduled to be screened Saturday at Leitersburg Cinemas, “Wereth Eleven,” was filmed at Fort Frederick State Park last year. The movie was produced in part by Historical Entertainment LLC of Cascade.
The film’s name refers to 11 black American soldiers who were killed when their unit was overrun by the German Army at the start of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
Riford said fees were paid to enter more than 250 films in the festival, which was narrowed to 51.
With the exception of short films, one of five categories of films in the event, all the winners have already been determined through a scoring process, Riford said.
Awards are to be given on Sunday at Leitersburg Cinemas.