Shorts 1 – Day 2 FFF 2012

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This is One of the Most Powerful Films at this Year's Florida Film Festival

Audience Reactions
As Day 2 of the FFF begins, I realize I’m getting older. Staying up till 4am to finish blog posts, then driving an hour to the FFF later in the morning takes a toll. I find that I’m not overly optimistic. I realize they probably chose the opening night film because it was a local production–and the fact that it sold out two theatres indicates it was the right choice. And while it certainly wasn’t a bad movie, neither did it leave me feeling hopeful for this year’s festival.

So I begin the day with one of my favorite activities–interviewing theatre goers about their festival experiences…

“You can use my alias, Scott,” begins the first person I interview.  He has been attending the FFF since “the beginning.” His favorites are the docs and the shorts. He wants to tell everyone to “get off the computer and get down here to see some films.”  Meanwhile, his fellow theatre mate makes a disparaging comment about people who blog–pointedly looking in my direction–as he corrects my grammar. Then, suddenly, Scott recognizes that I’m the notorious LanceAround blogger. His eyes widen in obvious admiration.

Leonard Feinberg has been attending the FFF for 21 years. He’s looking forward to  some great films.  “All the films have been good,” he says, reminiscing about past FFFs. In the early years, he helped with the volunteer effort.

Someone who identifies herself as Gertrude is talking animatedly to her two friends. “Why did you pick me to interview?” she asks. “Because you looked like a  talker,” I respond. Her male companion nods emphatically. “You’re good!, says her female companion. (I admire her astute observations of my abilities.) “This is our first movie but we’ve come in years past,” her companion says. She goes on to point out, “They’re already primed with the beer,” as if that was not obvious!

A woman in a purple shirt wants to know if there is a line to be interviewed for the blog. “There was a line to get tickets, there’s a line to get into the movie, I’m wondering if there’s a line to be interviewed for the blog,” she laments. I tell her there’s no line and, just as she’s about to speak, the line into the theatre begins to move and I don’t have the opportunity to interview her.

Shorts 1
High Maintenance-Hilarious short about a man’s effort to impregnate his wife, despite his slutty mother-in-law’s interference.

L Train-A powerful film, beautifully shot, telling the story of an impoverished teen in Chicago helping someone even less fortunate than herself. It was only after it was over I realized there was zero dialogue. That’s high praise.

Christmas is Ruined-A cute script about a rogue Santa Elf being interrogated for the disappearance of the most famous person on earth. A clever production that might have worked if it had competent actors.

Queen-Wow! Ryan Eggold gives a tour de force performance that is incredible in his role as a male cross dressing nightclub performer who’s phenomenal act is countered by the tragedies in his/her life.

Mouthful-This would have been a hilarious, well written and superbly acted film if only I didn’t have to watch its x-ratedness while sitting beside my daughter and a friend of hers from school.

Jim & Frank-This one might feel a little slow and a little disjointed. You might be tempted to let your mind wander. But when you understand the unexpected surprise at the end of the film, you’ll wish you had paid close attention the entire time. Then, like the audience at the screening I attended, you will gasp. You will love this film.

The Other Side-This is the kind of film you go to film festivals to see.  Smart, well acted, beautifully directed, it tells the story of an Israeli child living beside the wall who is an outcast within his peer group. When he encounters someone on the other side of the wall, his tender, thoughtful and heartfelt interactions will have an impact on you.

The lights come up and I’m slightly dumbfounded. I realize that this was probably the most powerful and, frankly, the best set of shorts I have ever seen. Several filmmakers come up for the Q & A

#1Ember Interviews Tony Borden

Tony Borden is the writer, director and played a lead in the short Jim & Frank. Without giving away the surprise ending, I am shocked to discover that he did not get any permission to do the portrayals in the movie. Afterwards, the LanceAround blog team catches up with him. He admits that he’s a little nervous about possible legal ramifications. He’s a little shy and seems genuinely surprised by the enormous amount of positive feedback his film is receiving. He’s quick to dismiss it, surmising that people are just being polite. We assure him this is not the case. Everyone we speak with really loves his film. In fact, at the press preview night, his was the only film that was selected to be shown in full.  That’s high praise at the FFF.

Ellis Cahill, a principal actor in Mouthful, likewise seems a little dismissive when I tell her that her performance was one of the best I have ever seen. She is quick to credit the script and the director. I am equally quick to correct her. Yes, both script and director were good–but the role was extremely difficult to pull off and she did so with a lot of depth.

Khen Shalem

Yet nothing prepared me for the interview I had with Khen Shalem, filmmaker for The Other Side. The most amazing aspect of his film was his ability to even-handedly portray both sides of the Israeli, Palestinian conflict. His movie, as told through the innocence of childhood, was as deep and thought-provoking as any movie I have ever seen.

Unbelievably, he spoke about his efforts to fund more films. When he showed potential financiers this movie, he found that he was often turned down because they felt the movie was too one-sided. But what made it weird is that each different financier would insist that one side–or the other–was shown in too favorable a light–each time it was a different side!

I sat and chewed on this insight for a long time. It was the perfect preparation for what I was about to experience in the next movie I would see–a documentary entitled, Kumare.

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