I look forward to the Florida Film Festival every year. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the festival. Twenty years ago there weren't as many film festivals as there are today. The opening night of the Florida Film Festival 20 years ago had such heavy hitters as Paul Newman and Oliver Stone. Today the Festival will showcase 164 films picked from 1035 submissions from 25 countries. This years theme is "Fresh Squeezed Indies" implying this is a film festival with a reputation for southern hospitality.
When I arrived at the Enzian Theater (1300 South Orange Avenue, Maitland), I immediately made my way to the press table to get my credentials. Jordana Meade was there and she said, "I knight thee" as she tapped each of my shoulders. She has always been a warm and welcoming supporter of the mission of this blog. I found a table in the press area and settled in to sketch. Before I was too involved in the sketches details, Bess Auer from Central Florida Top 5 came over to say hello. We talked about the Space Shuttle Discovery Launch and the tweet-up event associated with raising public awareness about the space program. She is in the sketch with the bright orange scarf. The couple in front of me in the dark business suits held hands constantly. They were adorable. Terry Olson joined me at the table. He thought he might be late but things at the preview got started slowly. My wife, Terry had been caught in traffic but even she arrived before the trailers started. In the first trailer, a young couple asked an older couple what their secret was in keeping their relationship fresh and alive. The woman responded, "We sleep with other couples." A strand of spaghetti dangled from the young woman's pursed lips. Terry and I looked at each other in the semi darkness and laughed.
I of course paid close attention when the animated shorts were announced. I'm looking forward to "The Gruffalo", a cgi animated short that looks charming. It was recently nominated for an Oscar for best animated short. One documentary called "Made in India" is about how American couples are paying Indian women to conceive their child using in vetro fertilisation. The problem is that after 9 months, it isn't easy to give up a child. There are 43 women directors showcasing their films in the festival this year. Love is found in so many entries, like "God of Love" and "Young Goethe in Love." Along with the many juried films, several old classics will be screened like a remastered 35mm print of, "Breakfast at Tiffany's", "The Yearling" and "Amarcord" by Fellini.
Find your favorite films on the Festival website. The Florida Film Festival is truly unique, a chance to meet the creators and actors first hand at the Eden Bar between screenings. You never know who you might meet or what you might learn. For me it is a vibrant artistic experience that can't be missed.