Debbie Donaldson Dorsey Receiving Nora Roberts Foundation Award at Maryland International Film Festival-Hagerstown

August 19, 2021

(Hagerstown, August 14, 2021) – The Director of the Baltimore Film Office, Debbie Donaldson Dorsey, will be awarded the Nora Roberts Foundation Award at the Maryland International Film Festival in Hagerstown, Maryland on Friday August 20, 2021.

Film Festival Board of Directors President Nicole Houser said, “Debbie Dorsey has done an incredible job at attracting film productions to the State of Maryland. This prestigious award is given in recognition of either success in the film and television industry, or in creating opportunities for achievements for the film and arts communities in Maryland. The award especially recognizes Maryland ties.”

After graduating from Towson University and backpacking through Europe in the early 1980’s, Debbie Donaldson Dorsey discovered she could combine her love of travel, photography and people in a career that now spans 30 years. Working as the Location Manager on productions such as “Avalon,” “Serial Mom,” “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “Home for the Holidays,” and “Washington Square,” allowed her to continue discovering and meeting all the diverse and beautiful places and people of her home State of Maryland. Presently, Baltimore is the site of two production projects, on which Ms. Dorsey has had a critical role: “We Own This City” (HBO Mini-series), and “The Spook Who Sat By The Door” (Disney/FX).

Now serving as the Director of the Baltimore Film Office at the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts and as a founding officer on the board of the Maryland Film Industry Coalition, Debbie continues to proudly sell Maryland’s architecture, culture and welcoming spirit to all filmmakers and promotes the importance of Maryland’s Film Industry to the State of Maryland.

Tom Riford, who had been a charter board member of the Maryland Film Industry Coalition, and now serves as Assistant Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Commerce, said, “Debbie Dorsey is a legend in the film industry, and respected around the country for her work promoting Baltimore and Maryland for film projects.”

On Friday August 20th, the Red-Carpet opening night begins with a special VIP reception at 5:30pm, followed by the opening night celebrations, awards, and introduction of opening night short films. The Nora Roberts Foundation Award is one of two awards presented opening night. The Mendez Award will also be given. Filmmaker awards will be presented at the After Party at 28 South, on Saturday August 21st, for Best Feature, Best Short, Best Animation, Best Student, Best Documentary, Best Local Film, and Best Foreign Film.

Past Nora Roberts Foundation Award Winners include:

2019 - The Maryland Theatre Board of Directors for its ongoing efforts to plan and advocate for the Urban Improvement Project forward for Hagerstown and Washington County. The Maryland Theatre board was recognized for its commitment with the collaboration of a community-wide coalition of supporters. The multi-million-dollar renovation and expansion project of the Maryland Theatre joined with tremendous expansion of the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts, the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, and more.

2018 - Shelly Strong from Smithsburg. Strong is the previous VP of Production at DreamWorks Studios (now Amblin Partners) and is now the Executive Vice President and Head of Production. Her credits include: "Tropic Thunder," "The Help," "I Love You, Man," "Girl on a Train," and the upcoming "The House with a Clock in its Walls." Strong is currently the only woman among heads of physical production at the major studios and is active in mentoring female filmmakers. She holds a position on the steering committee of the Women's Production Society, which is a group of female executives in physical production with the mission to promote the hiring of women in leadership roles in film and television production. Strong is also an advocate for the homeless.

2017 - Eduardo Sanchez, Director, and Maryland resident. In 1997 he started production on the most successful movie (budget to gross) ever, The Blair Witch Project (1999). It was a worldwide hit and has become one of the most spoofed films of all time. Sanchez directs films and television shows throughout the world.

2016 - Scott Gardenhour, feature film producer, and the co-founder and executive producer of the Emmy award-winning commercial production house, The Institute. Washington County-native. Gardenhour's credits include "Pearl Harbor" and "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi."

The Ninth Maryland International Film Festival-Hagerstown received more than 300 submissions prior the 2020’s festival but was delayed by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The judges announced that 118 films were selected. Opening night Friday August 20th is taking place at the Historic Maryland Theatre in Downtown Hagerstown. Other venues on Saturday and Sunday include the Washington County Free Library, The Grand Piano Ballroom, the new ACT Black Box Theatre, and the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Event Facility.

For more information about the festival, and to purchase tickets see: The non-profit Maryland International Film Festival-Hagerstown partners with several local organizations, businesses, and individuals. The major sponsors include: the City of Hagerstown, Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Washington County Government (Office of Grant Management), Washington County Arts Council,  Nora Roberts Foundation, Gideon Properties LLC, Homewood Suites by Hilton-Hagerstown, Bowman Group, University System of Maryland Hagerstown, Bulls and Bears, 28 South, WDVM, and Tom Riford.

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