If you missed the opening night of the Maryland Film Festival on Wednesday, don’t worry, because you’ve still got almost a whole week ahead of you of films and programs to catch. Here is a close read of two films I’ve been anticipating, an intimate account of Baltimore artists and what it means to choose family.
This evening, Friday the 21st at 6.p.m., catch Baltimore is Burning, a collection of three short films from local filmmakers about queer Baltimore artists and performers. Playing on the classic 1990 ballroom documentary Paris Is Burning, the program Baltimore is Burning features Into the Light: A Trip Through Baltimore Ballroom, directed by Jason Gray and Kathryn Martin, which chronicles a competition at the Peabody; The Filthiest People Alive by Thomas Hedges, about the “alternative drag performer” and artist Sextia N’Eight who works by day as a mortician and taxidermist; and Children of Paris, a documentary about Baltimore hip-hop and pop artists and their experiences as performers and as queer musicians.
Maryland filmmaker Brandy Creek’s Children of Paris features pulsing club and concert scenes, lush in electric purple, blue, and pink hues, interspersed with personal interviews with three musicians and performing artists who have collaborated, narrating their own stories and identities as artists.
The film opens with Kotic Couture (@KoticCouture), an artist on the club and pop side of hip-hop, who commands the room as a performer. Their magnetizing music, style, and visuals are reflected in their storytelling style and personality. Couture says that the mainstream media is not “ready to back us the way we need to be backed.” As Couture’s interview closes, DDm (@DapperDanMidas) descends down a spiral staircase, weaving together stories of confronting sexuality in his writing and quick-witted gems like “what makes me sad? Bad music. Bad sex . . . ” (See the video for DDm’s 2020 single, “Stop My Bag,” for the opposite of “bad music.” And for anyone hearing Couture for the first time in Children of Paris, you should also listen to their 2020 release “Pink Durag” featuring :3lON, and watch the stunning video.)