Florida Film Festival (FFF) Preivew 2015


Matthew Curtis and Mrs. LanceAround Discuss This Years Films

Florida Film Festival
10-19 April 2015
Enzian Theatre, Maitland, Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village 20 & RPX, and various other venues

LanceAround: Once again, as is our annual tradition here at the LanceAroundOrlando Blog, we’re here with Matthew Curtis, Programming Director for the Florida Film Festival. Every year we ask him to tell us what his five favorite films are for the Florida Film Festival…and he can never do it. Matthew likes all the films. He does not want to be pinned down and forced to select his favorites. So this year we’re going to do it a little differently…

Matthew Curtis: OK…

LA: Matthew, Give me two movies that are guaranteed to make me laugh.

MC: The Israel film, The Farewell Party, which, believe it or not, is about euthanasia in a retirement home…

LA: (interrupting) Euthanasia?” I’m sorry, I said, “films that will make me laugh!”

MC: You will laugh! It’s hilarious. It’s really good. And the documentary feature, The Desk, that’s world premiering, which is about a NY Times columnist that gets fired and hooks up with a very unruly New Zealand TV personality. That’s hysterical. Those two will make you laugh.

LA: Give me two movies that are just great drama.

MC: Wildlike is terrific. It’s a coming of age set in the Alaska wilderness. That is excellent. Imperial Dreams is a really good drama. It won Sundance “Best of NEXT” award last year. It’s about a young African-American man who gets out of prison and he’s gotta take care of his four year old boy. And his old gang boss is trying to get him back to the criminal life. He’s trying to hold out and become a writer so he can take care of his kid.

LA: Two documentaries we shouldn’t miss?

MC: Welcome to Leith, which is phenomenal. It’s directed by a UCF graduate and a University of Florida Doc institute graduate. Limited Partnership is incredibly moving. It’s about a married couple–a gay couple–that was married in the mid-70s in Boulder, CO and spent the better part of forty years trying not to have one of them be deported. This is decades before Proposition 8 and everything else. Unbelievably moving. Really powerful. Really good.

LA: Creative, experimental, unique?

MC: I would say unbelievably artistic would be the documentary Tomorrow We Disappear, which is about a slum in New Delhi, India.  It’s basically an artist’s colony filled with puppeteers, magicians and acrobats–2800 families there–and the New Delhi government sells the land to a real estate developer who wants to build the largest skyscraper in India. All these families have to get relocated. The film is so artistic. It’s beautifully shot and edited! Really, really good! Then there’s a film called Cartel Land which is like Breaking Bad meets Game of Thrones; both below and above the border. That film just won not only the Sundance award for documentary directing, it won the cinematography award. And it’s stunning! Really good!

LA: Your favorite shorts program?

MC: Ahhh…That’s tough!…Uh…I don’t have a favorite shorts program.

LA: Ahhh, I tried to sneak it in there. I knew it wasn’t going to work. I wanted to get you to identify your favorite!

MC: I really don’t have one. You know, the domestic shorts program, we try to sprinkle, if there’s some “name” actors, we try spread them out. Like Oscar Isaac is in one. One of them is narrated by Nick Offerman (The Gunfighter.) We try to spread those out so all the star driven ones aren’t in the same program. Like normal, they do get progressively a little more twisted and perverse and disturbing. But…yea…I don’t have a favorite. The animated shorts programs are phenomenal. 8 X Very, Very Real: Doc Shorts is a Doc Shorts program with perhaps a little more focus than previous because it’s really about a bunch of eccentrics. Normally we use the Real Program just to have the short documentaries that don’t fit preceding the features either because they’re too long or they just don’t work. In this case, this selection of films really works together. And some of them are so odd and disturbing we couldn’t put them before a feature because they would overwhelm the feature.

LA: Which movie is going to have the audience running for the hills this year?

MC: We do have a film from the Ukraine that’s the most unique and idiosyncratic film we’ve ever played. It’s called The Tribe. It’s in sign language and there’s no subtitles, no music and no dialogue. It’s really intense. It’s about corruption, prostitution and gangs at a boarding school for the deaf. The corruption reaches up to the instructors too. The film is a challenge to sit through but incredibly rewarding. It’s won awards all over the world, including Cannes. It’s got some scenes that are so harrowing, people will be running for the hills.

LA: You get a call tonight: President Barack Obama has decided to come to the Florida Film Festival to watch a movie. He wants you to choose one movie for him. What movie is it going to be?

MC: Top Spin which is a documentary about the youngest ping pong champions in the US trying out for the Olympic team in 2012. It’s a stunning documentary; a huge crowd pleaser. The kids; their parents, trying to enable them to fulfill their dreams. It’s really wonderful. It’s one of our three family films this year. It’ll be here the second Saturday as a matinee and we’re bringing in one of the filmmakers from San Francisco.

LA: So, Top Spin is your favorite film!

MC: NO! It’s ONE of my favorite films! Put it this way…It’s a family film that’s so good we actually wanted it for the competition as one of the ten documentary features in competition. But there were complications with that so we’re playing it in a sidebar.

LA: One last question: We have a friend named Holly. She just had a rough year with some health issues. Her and her husband started their own business about sixteen years ago and it’s been real successful. We told her that because she’s had a rough year we’re going to treat her to a film at the Enzian for the Florida Film Festival. What movie should we take Holly to see?

Mrs. LanceAround: Like an inspiring, uplifting film.

LA: Definitely not a midnight short!

MC: Sunshine Superman about the father of base jumping is pretty remarkable and exhilarating. If you want to bring her to something narrative, X + Y is a film about a teenage boy with Asperger’s. He’s a math genius, and his mom is played by Sally Hawkins. The boy is Asa Butterfield from Hugo. The Coach is Eddie Marsan who is one of my favorite British actors. He’s on Ray Donovan and he’s been in a lot of movies. It’s just a really inspiring and touching drama.

LA: How many films this year?

MC: 177

LA: And how many have you seen?

MC: 175 of 177. The only thing I haven’t seen is the Disney Doc, Monkey Kingdom. They don’t send preview screeners and it hasn’t opened yet. And, ironically, one of the food films, The Search for General Tso. I love the trailer. It looks hysterical. I just haven’t gotten around to seeing it. Usually for the food films I let other people curate those. I want to see it. I just haven’t gotten around to seeing it. So 175 out of 177.

LA: There you have it, Matthew Curtis, with his picks of his “Almost Favorite” films for which he categorically refuses to say, “This is my favorite.” Just come see them all! The Florida Film Festival: April 10th through the 19th, 2015 at the Enzian Theatre and other local venues. Thanks, Matthew!

MC: You’re welcome!

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