Having a terrific time at the Orlando Film Festival...
by Martin Hafer
I recently went to ComicCon New York and the preliminary estimates are that 170,000 folks attended. Crowded? You'd better believe it. Because of all the crowds and difficulty getting into many of the panels and screenings, it was such a nice change of pace to go to a smaller venue for the last few days, the Orlando Film Festival. Now I am not saying Orlando's festival is exactly tiny and it's also in its tenth year, but it has a much smaller, homier feel to it. Shows were not sold out, I got to speak with many very talented film people about their movies and I'd certainly go back again. It also helped that all the student workers from Valencia College here in Orlando were so nice and so eager to please.
The festivities for this independent film competition began with the Wednesday night premiere of Décio Lopes' new film, Making History--the story about the professional soccer team, the Orlando City Pride. Additionally, there were quite a few other premieres, including a gala red carpet for Charles Huddleston's Blue as well as many independent films both by local and international filmmakers. As for me, I loved some of the full-length films (Honey Glue absolutely blew me away--it's definitely a must-see movie), but mostly I enjoyed the many, many short films--particularly by students from a variety of film schools. I'll certainly be talking about this in the upcoming days. It was easy to see a lot of promise in many of these films.
One of the things that made this a particularly enjoyable festival was the wonderful Cobb Cinema. The seats were amazingly comfortable and almost luxurious. I also appreciated their unusual food and drink offerings, as I love being able to drink a nice microbrew while I watch films. Also, once again, the Valencia Students were very helpful. I also appreciated that the festival was much more affordable and approachable than the larger film festivals--so meeting and talking with the filmmakers and actors was much easier than I've ever experienced at other similar fests. Another film festival I recently attended cost over $1200 to attend, but a festival pass with the Orlando Film Festival could be had for just $50--and this gives you access to a heck of a lot of films for several days. As for me, I wanted to see it all, though I couldn't because films were shown simultaneously in six theaters! Two days in a row I watched films for over 13 hours--barely taking time to eat or take a bathroom break. I was also able to watch about a hundred shorts, not to mention the full-length pictures. I also would like to shout out to Moe Fowler, the Production Manager of the festival, as he is one of my ex-students who's done very well for himself and I appreciate his gracious invitation to cover the festivities.
Finally, here is a list of awards given at the conclusion of the festival--films you might just want to keep an eye out for in the near future:
Best Doc Short - Ron Taylor Dr. Baseball*
Best Animated Short - Golden Shot
Most Outrageous Short - Golden Shot
Best Short Film - Jack Is Pretty
Independent Spirit Award - Kaijutsu*
Best Doc Feature - The Record Man
Social Awareness Award - India's Daughter
Best Foreign Language Feature - Si-O-Se-Pol
Most Inspirational - Minimalism
Best Screenplay - The Runaway
Best Cinematography - Concealed
Best Ensemble Cast - Actor for Hire
Best Supporting Performance - Sean Bridgers, Blue
Best Performance - Richard Hench, The Runaway
Best Director - James Bird, Honey Glue*
Best Picture - Blue