OCFF 2024: Juror’s Top Ten | WBOC

OCFF 2024: Juror's Top Ten

Marlon Wallace Feb 19, 2024

The 8th Annual Ocean City Film Festival (OCFF) begins Thursday, March 7th and runs to Sunday, March 10th. I had the privilege of being a juror for the festival. Being on the jury gave me access to all the submitted films. I helped to narrow the numerous entries down to 106. Nine are features and the rest are short films that have been bundled into fifteen collections. Those collections range from comedy, romance, horror, science-fiction, and health. Some collections spotlight those in the disabled community or the LGBTQ+ community. There are also about two dozen, short films that focus on local topics or that were created by local filmmakers from the Eastern Shore of Maryland or the greater Delmarva peninsula.

As a juror, I had to watch a large selection of titles. I ranked each one using a star-rating system. One star was the lowest and ten stars was the highest. There was also a series of five criteria that each juror had to consider, including story, technical quality, creativity, discussion-worthy and local interest. Each filmmaker submitted their work using the FilmFreeway website, which is where the jurors logged their star-rating. Using that website, I was able to list all the films this year that got the highest star-rating. According to that list, there were thirteen films that got 9-stars or higher from yours truly.

From that thirteen, I was able to choose my top ten favorite films from the 2024 festival. My favorites are more personal to my taste, but, for those not sure what to seek out, let my list also be a guide. I will include what showcase each film resides, along with the date and time of when the film is screening. Through these suggestions, hopefully you can find something to enjoy.

Here are my top ten films for the 2024 Ocean City Film Festival.

10. SWAMP CREATURES by David and Tara Gladden. Strife Stories. Saturday, March 9 at 1:30 PM at Flagship Theater #5 and Sunday, March 10 at 12:15 PM at Flagship Theater #5 in West Ocean City. David Gladden is a professor at Salisbury University. This 9-minute film was crafted using stop-motion animation. The objects in question are refrigerator magnets. These magnets come to life to create a montage of images that depict moments from the Trump presidency. Without any words or narration, it’s a brilliant, satirical and unique critique of the Trump era.

9. DINNER FOR SIX by Emily Kranking. Opening Night Showcase & Storytelling Ability. Thursday, March 7 at 7 PM at the Princess Royale on 90th Street. Friday, March 8 at 2:15 PM at Ashore Resort on 101st Street and Saturday, March 9 at 3:30 PM at Flagship Theater #4. The director is also the main actress of this romantic comedy that centers on a young, neurodiverse woman with cerebral palsy. Kranking is a disability advocate and this story is an example of why. Her film underlines the point that often times what a person with a disability needs is independence and the space to do things for themselves.

8. RED YELLOW BLUE by Julia E. Cooke. Horror, Sci-fi, & the Weird. Friday, March 8 at 7 PM at Cambria Hotel and Saturday, March 9 at 4:30 PM at Flagship Theater #5. This could be considered more of an experimental film. There isn’t necessarily a plot or straightforward narrative. The Baltimore filmmaker is doing more of a psychological exploration. She uses music and color to craft a creepy vibe, more than she is telling a story. All we know is that it focuses on an American woman in a foreign country. What follows could be considered trippy or hallucinogenic.

7. DREAMING OF… by Adrián De Jesús. Pride Films. Friday, March 8 at 11:45 AM at Princess Royale Rm #1 and Saturday, March 9 at 9:30 AM at Ashore Resort on 101st Street. Of all the films on this list, this would be the one that I would award Best Cinematography. The use of lighting, color and aspect ratio all make for a visual feast. There’s a haziness to the film, which gives it a dream-like feeling. There’s also a warm and cozy nature to it, which provides a delicate path to deal with the issues of grief and loss from its queer, female protagonist.

6. INTRUSION by Jacob Greene. Pride Films. Friday, March 8 at 11:45 AM at Princess Royale Rm #1 and Saturday, March 9 at 9:30 AM at Ashore Resort on 101st Street. Like Dreaming Of…, it’s a film that is about a LGBTQ character in which the story isn’t about that person being LGBTQ. At least, it’s not about this person’s identity in a direct way. It instead deals with an issue that is very topical, that of mental health. In fact, it’s reminiscent of a film from OCFF 2020, that of Paul Cosby’s Myself, which dealt with social anxiety by personifying or embodying it through dialogue. Greene does a similar thing without the mirror effect but more like the angel or devil on one’s shoulder.

5. SALTED EARTH by Ben Hemmings. Environmental & Aquatic. Saturday, March 9 at 3:30 PM at Ashore Resort on 101st Street and Sunday, March 10 at 9:45 AM at Ashore Resort on 101st Street. Sea level rise due to climate change is the chief concern of this film co-produced by various professors at the University of Delaware. The film touches upon issues that are plaguing the Delmarva peninsula currently, such as flooding, marsh migration and salt water intrusion. Hemmings visits various farms on the Eastern Shore, in Chestertown, Oxford and Crisfield. Hemmings even speaks to archeologists and even a chief with the Lenape tribe. It’s eye-opening to those who think climate change and its effects aren’t happening right now.

4. THE PEACH by Sherwyn Santos. The Media and Me. Friday, March 8 at 11 AM at Cambria Hotel and Sunday, March 10 at 9:30 AM at Flagship Theater #5. It’s about two straight guys who watch the film Call Me By Your Name (2017). The director admits that he never saw that 2017 Oscar-winner. For those who haven’t seen Call Me By Your Name, there is an infamous scene involving a peach that you might know instead. That peach scene became the butt of many jokes on the Internet. This film is basically riffing off that joke. It’s funny, but I also think it’s an interesting commentary about how certain films are regarded in the media and what people take away from them.


3. GIANNA by Brooke Linsalata. For the Love of Film. Friday, March 8 at 7:15 PM at Ashore Resort on 101st Street and Sunday, March 10 at 10 AM at Cambria Hotel. So many Hollywood, romantic comedies have some kind of gimmick. Often, the gimmick is meant to enhance the comedy, but that gimmick can also overshadow the romance. This film doesn’t rely on a gimmick. It relies on having a good, character at its center and the protagonist here is one with whom a lot can relate. It’s ostensibly about an Italian tomboy in a coming-of-age tale, following her first attempts at dating, but there’s nuanced layers here.

2. HAPPY CAMPERS by Amy Nicholson. Chuckles, Chortles, Snickers, and Snorts. Friday, March 8 at 12 PM at Princess Royale Rm #2 and Saturday, March 9 at 11:30 AM at Ashore Resort on 101st Street. Inlet View used to be a trailer-park community in Chincoteague, only an hour away from Ocean City. That community was torn down and Sun Outdoors, a RV resort, was put in its place for tourists seeking a waterside campground with cottages and bungalows. Nicholson’s documentary focuses on the residents as they celebrate their last summer at Inlet View in what is described as a kind of rustic utopia and Nicholson’s film really captures that feeling with a bittersweet undertone that makes the whole thing rather lovely.


1. AMERICAN MELTDOWN by Andrew Adams. Feature. Friday, March 8 at 1:30 PM at Flagship Theater #4 and Saturday, March 9 at 9:30 AM at Flagship Theater #5. This is a darkly funny satire that invokes the likes of Joel and Ethan Coen, the filmmakers behind Fargo (1996) and No Country for Old Men (2007). There isn’t that same level of murder and mayhem here. Instead, this film is spoofing the economic issues facing Millennials. At the same time, there is also this vibe that makes this film feel like it could be in league with Thelma & Louise (1991). One of the main actresses definitely has a Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) vibe and the other main actress definitely has a Emma Stone (La La Land) vibe, if Stone were Latina. This fun was the most fun I had with any film in the festival this year. It’s one to definitely check out.