And that's exactly what took place last weekend during the closing film of the 4th annual Gay Orlando Film Festival. The first-ever lesbian film to close the festival (and the first one to ever sell out as well!), this modern-day update on the 1931 German classic, MAEDCHEN IN UNIFORM, drew fans from all over. Not only did moviegoers come in from up and down the East Coast (including New York, Georgia, and Miami) to see Katherine Brooks' LOVING ANNABELLE--an accomplished and romantic tale of a forbidden student-teacher relationship in a Catholic girls' boarding school--but a young woman even flew in all the way from Australia! Now that's dedication...
The big draw (besides the film itself) was the appearance of both the filmmaker and the striking lead actress, Erin Kelly. Open, charming, and disarmingly honest, they delighted the crowd with stories from the 8-year journey the film took to make it to the big screen. The director even expressed a certain amount of surprise in the amount of men in the audience in her intro prior to the film. Apparently co-star Diane Gaidry, who does such an excellent job as Simone, the repressed and emotionaly torn poetry teacher, was an emergency fill-in at the last moment. Talk about fortuitous breaks! Florida Film Festival-goers probably remember her from her excellent turns in past competition feature, THE DOGWALKER (2003), and last year's provocative short, TRANSACTION (2006), both directed by Diane's talented husband, filmmaker Jacques Thelemaque. They also discussed co-star and veteran character actor, Kevin McCarthy, who plays a priest at the school and ironically also starred in last year's Closing Night Retro film at FFF, the 50's sci-fi classic INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.
Katherine talked about her next project, tentatively titled MAD WORLD and set in New Orleans, which she hopes to start shooting in February. Erin and Olivia D'Abo, who composed the closing song in ANNABELLE, are also part of the creative team for the new film. Both the director and actress hung out in the courtyard after the screening for nearly an hour, giving generously of their time and making a real connection with their fans. It was a real treat to have them both to Enzian, and they certainly were a big part of a very successful year for the Gay Orlando Film Festival (which also featured ANOTHER GAY MOVIE, CAMP OUT, AVAILABLE MEN, and 50 WAYS OF SAYING FABULOUS).