This Florida Film Festival staple tasting night has become a beloved ritual for Festival attendees. The tasting reception was preceded by "Marriage Italian Style", with Sophia Loren, inside the theater. People arrived at Eden Bar for a tasting of Italian treats and delights courtesy of festival supporter Olive Garden Italian Restaurant. Film tickets were $10 each. The tasting reception was complimentary.
I arrived an hour early to block in the sketch composition before the crowd got too thick. I ordered a Orange Blossom Pilsner and sat at a metal table on the sidelines. Volunteers at the Festival this year are wearing bright red shirts that say "Scan me", with a giant QR code on the back. One volunteer weaved through the crowd with a questionnaire to find out where Festival attendees came from and how much they planned to spend. Another woman approached me and asked if I had a program yet. I didn't, and I assumed she was going to give me the one she was holding. She had a program and was given a second one. She wanted to sell me her second program, I declined.
Mary Ann De Stefano arrived and she was kind enough to get me several tiny sampler plates. There was a crispy toast with crushed tomatoes on top, a sharp white cheese and some olives. As people arrived there were hugs and compliments. After the tasting there was going to be a screening of "Dead Dad" which is the premiere feature film of FSU student, Ken Adachi. Ken developed an urge to complete a feature length film while working primarily in short formats. New to Los Angeles with limited funds, he and his collaborators embraced a grassroots approach and worked tirelessly to make it happen. The result is "Dead Dad", Adachi’s feature film debut. I believe that Ken, his family and friends were at the table next to mine judging from the hearty congratulations.