Putting the Florida in FFF

by Matthew Curtis
March 7, 2008 4:08 AM
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It wouldn't be the Florida Film Festival without a healthy dose of our homegrown talent and Sunshine State connections in the lineup, and this year's 17th annual edition (now a mere 3 weeks away!) is no different. No less than 23 titles out of the 159 films we have lined up beginning March 28 have that Florida association. And it's not just the 15 films in the Florida Shorts - Best of Brouhaha program that represent both FilmSlam winners from 2007 and works from UCF, FSU, Ringling College of Art & Design, Daytona Beach Community College, and other talented local filmmakers. The incredibly diverse Florida touch can be found in a total of 6 other sections of the festival.

In the American Independent Competition, we've got two narrative shorts, one animated short, and a doc feature all ready for their close-ups. Ron Davis and Stewart Halpern's PAGEANT is the funny and highly entertaining feature-length doc about the 34th Miss Gay America Pageant, and Orlando's own Robert Martin (aka "Chantel Reshae") is one of the five men caught following their dream. Robert Scott's ANATOMY OF A KISS is an extremely clever send-up of Japanese melodramas set on the beach of Tokyo Bay in 1956. Benjamin Piety's SUNLIT SHADOWS is the other live-action competition short, a well-shot, somewhat experimental visual mix tape of a relationship, complete with a Side A and Side B. Lee Stringer's ZOMBIE DEAREST, featuring Tofu the Vegan Zombie, plays in the Animated Shorts program and is cute and funny and features some fine CGI and a few homages to the horror greats as well.

Not to be outdone in the horror department, our two in-state consituents in the infamous Midnight Shorts program lay on the gore, the scares, and the laughs. Jason Kupfer's THE SLEUTH INCIDENT is the bizarre story of a giant stuffed teddy bear out looking for a little buddy. Ryan Spindell's KIRKSDALE takes no prisoners in its unforgettable take on goings on at an insane asylum in early 1960's rural Florida--you've been warned!

This year's Florida Sidebar Doc Feature is Vivien Lesnik Weisman's THE MAN OF TWO HAVANAS, a fascinating and controversial work filmed in both Cuba and Little Havana, Miami, in which the filmmaker explores her father's role as a revolutionary and rabble-rouser. And last but certainly not least, Stephanie Johnes' DOUBLETIME is one of this year's family friendly offerings, a tremendous doc feature about two totally different jump rope teams--one suburban white and one inner-city black--as they train to compete against each other for the very first time. Footage shot in Orlando at Disney's Wide World of Sports as they compete in the National Championships helps set the tone for their ultimate showdown at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

This is just a small sampling (w/ a Florida twist) of the many cinematic gems that await at this year's FFF--can't wait to see you there.

--Matthew

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