Florida Film Festival (FFF) Preview 2014

Mrs. LanceAround Chats Film With Florida Film Festival Programming Director Matthew Curtis

Mrs. LanceAround Chats With FFF Programming Director Matthew Curtis

The 2014 Florida Film Festival is just around the corner. LanceAround and Mrs. LanceAround are here at the preview party chatting with FFF Programming Director Matthew Curtis.

LA: Matthew, how many films are there this year?

MC: Right now there are 171. There will be 173.

LA: 173! and how many of those films have you personally seen?

MC: All of them. Every single one.

LA: All 173?

MC: Absolutely.

LA: Is there anyone else that has seen that many?

MC: No.

LA: You’re the only one.

MC: I’m the only one that’s seen every film in the festival.

LA: At LanceAroundOrlando we have a little tradition. Every year we ask Matthew to pick out his five favorite films…

"The Last Orange Grove of Middle Florida" might be of interest to local FFF fans

The Last Orange Grove of Middle Florida Might Be Of Interest To Local FFF Fans

MC: …And you know I can never do it…

LA: …I know you never can…

MC: …I can tell you some great ones…

LA: As you know, my readers can’t see 173 films so they want to know, “which ones do we not miss.” Matthew, what are the five best?

MC: The documentary on the only [Hmm, bit of a dilemma here as the name of this museum uses a word that’s not appropriate for the LanceAroundOrlando blog. I guess we’ll just have to substitute the word “Johnson.”–LanceAround] The documentary on the only [Johnson] Museum in the world…

LA: …I’m sorry, what did you say?…

MC: …There’s a documentary called The Final Member that’s about the only [Johnson] Museum in the world…

LA: …Okay, that’s what I thought you said…

MC: …And, uh, it’s hysterical and quite shocking and pretty unbelievable. Of course, the museum is 30 miles from the arctic circle in Iceland. It’s a competition between two people to, um, donate the first human phallus.

LA: In Iceland?

MC: Yea, the museum is in Iceland.

LA: Wouldn’t that make for a much smaller donation?

MC: Well, that’s a good joke…it’s a good pun. So The Final Member is terrific.

LA: I’m assuming that’s not a film for the family.

MC: No, it’s not. I would not say that. But speaking of family films, we do have the Academy Award nominated animated feature Ernest & Celestine which is absolutely beautiful. It’s adapted from a series of French children’s books and the English language version the voice actors are Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall, William H. Macy, Jeffrey Wright, Paul Giamatti, it’s fantastic.

LA: So you go from the [Johnson] film to the animated children’s film.

MC: Those are the extremes that you’ll find in this festival. As always, we have some incredible docs. There’s a doc called The Front Man and it’s really wonderful. We’ve got the world premier of a film about Russian mail order brides called Love Me that’s pretty jaw dropping and really interesting. It’s really about the international dating service called A Foreign Affair. We’ve got some terrific features in competition. There’s some real nice romantic comedies. An indie romantic comedy called Forev That’s really sweet and funny. Crazy, very original comedy called Crimes Against Humanity from Chicago that just world premiered at Slamdance…

LA: …So that’s number six. Are there any others that people should see?

Don't Miss the 2014 FFF

Don’t Miss the 2014 FFF

MC: Sure, there’s a couple of international features that were both the foreign language submissions for the Oscars this year; One from Singapore called Ilo Ilo which is set during the Asian recession in the late 90’s  where a family hires a Philippine maid who the mother/wife doesn’t get along with that well. Then there’s a terrific film called Gabrielle from Canada from the same producers as Monsieur Lazhar about a developmentally challenged young woman in her early 20’s who wants her independence and sexual freedom and the actress actually has Williams Syndrome which, from what I can gather, is sort of like Asperger’s. The film’s really terrific. Completely unusual. It’s a subject we really haven’t seen before. A lot of the actors are similarly challenged. It’s just a really good drama. Excellent.

LA: The sad part about this interview is that it’s a written blog. My readers aren’t able to see the expression on Matthew’s face as he talks about these movies. And for every one his face just lights up with pure delight. It’s clear that he loves all of these films. But that’s the entire list, there’s none other that are…

MC: …No, no, there’s quite a few others that are well worth seeing depending on your taste. I mean, the midnight movies this year we have one of the spookiest films to hit here. It’s an Australian film called The Babadook by a woman director. It’s about a boogeyman that they find in a pop up book. We also have a couple films at midnight that we had to put warnings on because people might be running for the hills. We actually have graphic content warnings; Moebius and a German film called Wetlands I saw at Sundance and tongues were wagging. It’s unbelievable.

LA: [In a whispered voice LanceAround conspiratorially asks Matthew] Which of these films is your personal favorite?

MC: I don’t have a personal favorite. There’s a lot of really great films. I don’t personally love every film at the festival. But I like every film. Obviously we try to appeal to all tastes and as broad a segment of the community as possible but there are some absolutely great films in the festival this year; including a number of the shorts. Animation is always huge here; the animated shorts. We have a new international shorts program this year. Every year we take turns; sometime Italian shorts, sometimes British shorts, sometimes we do international documentary shorts. This year we have a Swedish shorts program called SOS: Short Order Swedish that’s got some absolutely incredible films in that and that’s a new program. There’s really something for everyone. I couldn’t name a personal favorite. I could probably name a top ten; some of which I’ve already previously mentioned.

LA: There you have it. Matthew’s advice–Just go ahead, camp out at the Enzian, don’t miss a film. It’s going to be a fabulous year at the 2014 Florida Film Festival.

[Oh, and for the record, Matthew, we know you couldn’t give us just a “Top Ten” list either. There are always way too many films to love at a Florida Film Festival. Who could possibly limit it to just a Top Five or Top Ten? LanceAround and Mrs. LanceAround’s advice: Get a platinum pass and see as many films as you possible can!]

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