Archive for April, 2015

FFF 2015 Day 4 – 8 X Very, Very Real

April 13, 2015
Filmmakers Kareem Tabsch and Rob Lewis from Dolphin Lover and Stella Walsh

Filmmakers Kareem Tabsch and Rob Lewis from Dolphin Lover and Stella Walsh

The 8 X Very, Very Real Shorts Documentary program is one of the best selection of shorts we’ve had at the FFF for a long time! If you enjoy seeing films about interesting, unusual and downright quirky people, you will love this shorts program. Mrs. LanceAround insisted on seeing it because she was interested in the story of Stella Walsh; a famous Olympian whose sexuality came into question. While that movie lived up to our expectations, the film that really got us thinking was Dolphin Love. The description of the subject matter would turn most people away. But having seen the film, we were both stunned by the reality of someone who is, shall we say, very different from most people. But a quick Google search highlights that he is not alone in his sexual choices.

The EBay Pickup
A man travels far from home to purchase a homemade grizzly-proof suit for only $3000. He has visions of selling the technology, perhaps to the military. The audience just laughed. So will you.

Luchadora
A single mother’s life can be tough. After work, she has to do the housework, feed the children and run the household. Of course, work might be even tougher if you’re one of the few female pro wrestling champions in Mexico.

Unmappable
An admitted registered sex offender considers himself an artful and poetic cartographer. His maps can be very unorthodox; such as mapping the jack o’laterns on Halloween or the streetlights as they come on in the city. He’s been featured on This American Life. He also spent many months in prison for a sexual relationship with a 16 year old boy. He says he knew it was illegal yet the police report confirms both insist it was consensual.

Crooked Candy
Kinder Eggs are illegal in the U.S. primarily because they feature small parts that can be swallowed by children. But this obsessed collector has found a way to smuggled thousands into the country. Like a small boy with candy, he proudly displays his collection of…well…candy!

Stella Walsh

Stella Walsh

Stella Walsh

She was one of the greatest track stars of all time. She won the gold medal in the 1932 Olympics. Then, in 1980, she was tragically killed during a botched robbery attempt in a Cleveland area parking lot. Because it was murder, an autopsy was performed. Now, the world is wondering if she really was a woman.

Hotel 22
What’s the least amount of money you’ve ever spent for a hotel room? What if you’re homeless and need someplace warm to sleep? Silicon Valley features only one 24 hours bus line: Route 22. You’re not allowed to put your feet on a chair or lay down. But if you prop your head against the window, for the price of a bus fare you could have a sheltered place to sleep for a few hours. And when the regular customers come on the bus in the morning, they can think, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

Final Draft

Final Draft

Final Draft

Back in the day when the threat of nuclear annihilation was on everyone’s mind, the BBC attempted to pre-record a message to be read in the event of a holocaust. Just, exactly, how does one write a script for that? Watch this movie to find out.

Dolphin Lover
Do you know the difference between bestiality and zoophilia. If not, watching this documentary will be quite the education. A man admits to having a sexual affair…no…he insists that it is a love affair…with a dolphin; including graphic details of the sexual act. If, like me, you find that description to be disturbing, I can only tell you that the movie is surprising. The man appears so honest…and so normal…that it’s difficult to know exactly what to make of him. But we do know this, both Mrs. LanceAround and I highly recommend this film. It may repulse you or it may educate you in a way you wouldn’t expect.

After the program, filmmakers Kareem Tabsch from Dolphin Lover and Rob Lucas of Stella Walsh took questions from the audience.

Rob spoke about things that weren’t in his movie. Such as the time Stella got married, ostensibly so she could try out for the American track team rather than the Polish team, and then divorced immediately after she failed to make the team.

Kareem shared that the protagonist in his movie came from a family that used to practice Orgone Therapy. Unfortunately, the therapist they selected for their children wound up sexually abusing the dolphin lover.

Mrs. LanceAround thanked both filmmakers for their excellent work and their willingness to share uncomfortable stories. Stories that help us better understand the people we live with on this earth.

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FFF 2015 Day 3 An Evening With Bob Balaban

April 13, 2015
Mrs. LanceAround Chats with Bob Balaban

Mrs. LanceAround Chats with Bob Balaban

Hollywood is filled with too much vanity and too many big egos. That’s why it’s such a treat to discover someone who is as down-to-earth and sincerely likeable as Bob Balaban.

If the name does not ring a bell, rest assured you would most likely recognize him. Standing only five foot, five inches tall with a receeding hairline, large glasses and an even larger smile, you might know him as the head of NBC in Seinfeld episodes, the American producer in Gosford Park, the rich Hollywood producer in The West Wing or one of the featured actors in most of the Christopher Guest’s “mockumentaries” just to highlight a few of his prolific roles.

More than just an actor, Bob has produced, written and directed during his long theatre career; on both Broadway and in the movies. In fact, he comes from a family of theatre moguls as his parents used to run several theatres in the Chicago area.

After the sellout audience at the Enzian got to enjoy the Academy Award nominated Best Film from 2001, Gosford Park, Bob took the stage at the Enzian to a standing ovation. Graciously unruffled by technical microphone issues, he then told the story of how he was in his office in New York reading an Agatha Christie novel when he got the idea to do a movie about a murder in a posh English home where the downstairs butlers, maids and other wait staff were so depersonalized visiting staff would be referred to by the name of the person they waited on while the upstairs elite would wine and dine in ultimate luxury. Then, of course, a murder would happen and everyone had a motive.

He got Julian Fellowes to develop the script (which won an Academy Award) and then secured Robert Altman for the directing. He tells the audience tales of how the ensemble cast worked together; how talented they all were; how they improvised scenes and were forced to stay in character because they were all miked all the time and each mike was on a separate track so Altman could choose dialogue at random and make it louder or softer depending on what he wanted to highlight in the scene.

If the movie plot sounds somewhat familiar, perhaps it’s because the idea is very similar to a later TV show, Downton Abbey. However, Bob readily admits it could also be familiar because it bears some resemblance to a very old TV show called Upstairs Downstairs.

Henry Loves to Film the Guests

Henry Loves to Film the Guests

During the Q & A I asked Bob to describe the difference between working with movies that are highly scripted compared to Robert Altman’s films which uses a lot of improvisation or something as very loosely scripted such as Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries.

Bob talks at length about the mockumentaries. In place of a script, the ensemble is given a 25 page summary of the plot. There are occasional directives or lines that must occur. But by and large the entire movie is one constant improvisation. I ask him which method of movie making he prefers and he’s quick to respond, “The one that pays me.” The audience howls in laughter.

After his talk, Mrs. LanceAround and I had a private interview with Bob. I know some actors can get annoyed when fans gush over a favorite work. But Bob did a role so perfectly, I couldn’t help but begin my conversation with him by telling him which role he played that was my favorite:

LanceAround:  By the way, Bob, I have to tell you what my absolute favorite role of yours is. And it may surprise you. But it’s when you did, 20 Hours in L.A. Do you remember that?

Bob: [unpretiously] No! [The group of admirers around us giggle at his honesty.] Was it a documentary?

LanceAround: No, it was a West Wing episode.

Bob: [immediately brightens with recognition] Oh, yea, I didn’t know the title of it.

LanceAround: I thought it was phenomenal…

Bob: Thank you.

LanceAround: You were just brilliant in that!

Bob: [Sincerely and with much more emphasis] Thank you!

LanceAround: I really thought you just nailed that character.

Bob: Well it was a really good character and I was working with my friend Marty Sheen, which was fun. And I had a really good time. So thank you. I had a great time.”

While we’re talking with Bob, Henry Maldonado, the president of the FFF has a camera and is taking video of Bob interacting with the audience. I see the opportunity for a wonderful picture of Henry with the camera on his shoulder and Bob in the viewfinder as we also see him in the distance gesturing to one of the fans. I snap a quick photo and show it the Henry. “Well, it’s a great shot of the back of my head,” he laments.

But I liked the photo, in part because it captures the essence of the FFF. Here, everyone is a fan and everyone can be a star. Here, the president can film while the fans are shaking hands with filmmakers. Henry likes to tell everyone the thing that makes the FFF so unique is how friendly and welcoming it is.

He’s absolutely right about that. And if you haven’t been to the FFF be certain to go sometime this week.

Maybe Henry will film you.

FFF 2015 Day 3 Shorts Program 4: Wake Up Little Susie

April 13, 2015
Hilariously Thought Provoking Film


Limbo: A Hilariously Thought Provoking Film

It was 2:30 in the morning after Day 2 at the Florida Film Festival and Mrs. LanceAround and I were putting the finishing touches on our blogposts when we received a call from NumberOneSon. He was attending MegaCon at the convention center and the huge rainfall turned the overflow parking area into a swamp. His car was stuck. In the end, we managed to push it out when two strangers were kind enough to assist…then left without accepting any payment. But with only two hours of sleep, we weren’t in the best shape for today’s movies.

Perhaps that is the main reason we found this group of shorts pretty adolescent and immature. Usually, in any shorts program, there are at least a few movies that are enjoyable. We realize that many audience members really liked some of these films. We also realize that many of them were younger, mostly males. ***Sigh*** Maybe we’re just getting too old.

The Peter Party
A trio of office workers have a workplace conversation that could easily result in sexual harassment lawsuit! Funny, but not for the squeamish.

Limbo
What if, when you die and go to paradise you don’t know why? And what if discovering the answer would cause you to leave paradise? Is it worth it to find out?

Haze
There was a one night stand, but something went wrong. Was it consensual? Can anyone explain how the man wound up on top of the woman, both of them bleeding from the head and her just in her panties?

Stop

Did Racial Profiling Help?

White Police Office, Black Male

There’s a lot of news these days about police racially profiling black people. Is that what happened in this movie? It has an interesting and unexpected twist. A difficult film to watch in this day and age.

Stay Awake
The holidays are always a depressing time for some people. In this movie, an addicted mother provides challenges for her two sons. While it won the Jury Award for Best Narrative Short at the 2015 Slamdance Film Festival, I personally found the title prophetic. True, I only had two hours of sleep the night before so maybe that’s why I couldn’t…Stay Awake.

Invaders
Several members of the audience clearly loved this film. Afterwards, I ran into a FFF worker who said they used 300 gallons of blood for this very short movie. Tarantino might have liked it. I personally did not.

Blood Below the Skin
Coming of age movie about teenage girls and their relationships with boys, each other, their mothers and dirty old history teachers at school.

FFF 2015 Day 3 Tomorrow We Disappear

April 13, 2015
Mrs. LanceAround: I Felt Like I Was Kicked in the Stomach

Mrs. LanceAround: “I Fell Like I Just Got Punched in the Stomach”

Elgin Park
In Richard Bach’s bestseller, The Bridge Across Forever, he talks about how his writing teacher in high school used to pound his fist on the desk and say, “Don’t TELL me, SHOW me! INCIDENT! and EXAMPLE!” Elgin Park is a bit of a teaser. It gives a glimpse of a man who creates entire scenes out of models and photographs them. He talks about how he knew he was gay in kindergarten. He was bullied throughout school. He became reclusive. He retreated into creating incredibly detailed and accurate scale models of scenes from his hometown. The problem with the movie is exactly what Richard Bach was talking about…there’s way too much footage of the man talking about his models and not enough of seeing the models. Too many questions are unanswered. How many models are there? Where does he display them? Why does he create them? I could go on and on. I enjoyed the documentary. But I felt teased and wanted more.

Tomorrow We Disappear
Mrs. LanceAround grabs my hand at the end of this film and says, “Oh my God! I feel like I’ve just been punched in the stomach!”

She’s absolutely right.

This was a very emotional film that details a slum in Delhi, India, were artisans have lived for generations. They built their lives there. But the government has sold the property to a developer who is tearing down the slum to build one of the largest skyscraper in India. The developer has to build temporary, then permanent, housing for the current residents. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are being displaced from their homes. And Mrs. LanceAround thinks the temporary housing looks like a prison.

A very moving story as was evidence by the reaction of the audience. For me, my review is a little more measured. Matthew Curtis, the programming director of the FFF, is fond of saying, “I LIKE every movie in the festival. I don’t LOVE every movie.” I really liked this film. But I didn’t love it. As I contemplate the reasons for this, I come to the conclusion that the filmmaker was too close to the subjects of the movie. Shots were held just a little too long. At places, the story drug just a bit. It wasn’t much, but enough to take me out of the movie.

Yet the power of this story was such that it overcomes these obstacles. Very much a “must see” movie. But Mrs. LanceAround wants to warn you; be ready for a wallop in your gut!

Reactions From the Audience
One of the ways the Enzian Theatre raises money is by selling memberships. For a modest fee, members receive perks such as reduced ticket pricing, invitations to special events and…best of all…free popcorn during the movie! As Mrs. LanceAround and I walked into the theatre, four ladies at the table beside us had a free bucket of popcorn they graciously offered to share with us. As the movie ended, I decided to interview them about their impressions of the movie we just saw…

LanceAround: Hello, and you are…

Melinda...

Becky…

Leslie…

And Andrea took off…

LanceAround: Andrea left, but you just told me her name so we’ll mention her in the blog as well! How long have you been members?

Two Years, I don’t know…7 years? 8 years? 3 years.

LanceAround: What’s your favorite thing about the FFF?

So much! Just the huge diversity of films. Even at the Enzian every week you don’t get this diversity; all the international directors and artists. And then the shorts, too, seeing the shorts. I don’t know of any theatre in this town that shows shorts.

LanceAround: What did you think of the movie you just saw?

For me it was timely. I’m going to India in November. And I’m purposely taking a trip that’s uncomfortable because it’s so out there. So seeing it for me was frightening in a good way. Because I know that’s what I’m going to see. The movie was amazing because I’m also in the home building development business. I’m a consultant. I can see what razing a community and building on it does to the people that were originally there. So it hit me in both those directions. It was a movie I would have never seen if I didn’t come to the film festival. When would I ever see anything like that? So eye opening to even know…you see these street performers…everyone has a story. We don’t really know someone else’s story until someone documents it and puts it up for us to view and then we react to it.

By this time, the large theatre staff is busily clearing tables and cleaning up to get ready for the next film. I am amazed at their efficiency. I know it’s a slight annoyance for me to finish my interview. But they are, as always, polite and respectful. I ask for any last comments.

Time doesn’t wait for any of us. And it’s sad…Kind of throw out the baby with the bathwater…really sad.

Thanks so much!

See, that’s another interesting thing about the film festival…meeting people like you! Bloggers who are doing cool blogs!

I blush as I spend the rest of the evening trying to convince Mrs. LanceAround that they were attempting to flirt with me. “They were just being polite,” she corrects me with an impish smile on her face.

 

 

FFF 2015 Day 2 Sunshine Superman

April 12, 2015

SunshineSupermanSunshine Superman
Day one of the FFF ends with another absolutely stellar documentary. Sunshine Superman tells the story of Carl Boenish, the founder of BASE parachute jumping, and his wife Jean who would do many of the jumps with him. BASE is an acronym for Buildings, Antennas, Spans and Earth–the four main categories of places where a parachutist can jump without having to be in an aircraft. Carl was one of those infectious and charismatic personalities who have an impact on everyone they meet. He was intelligent, thorough and careful, yet he engaged in activities that most people believe are dangerous and some call downright crazy.

Since Carl was an avid filmer, most of his parachuting was captured on footage that was used to make this documentary. From that footage, it was obvious that Carl lived his life to the fullest; whether it was petitioning Yosemite National Park to allow BASE jumping (which didn’t even have the name “BASE jumping” back then until Carl invented it) or being interviewed by TV hosts who would often marvel at his daredevil exploits.

This documentary, like Carl and Jean’s BASE jumps, was skillfully crafted and very fun to watch. Carl’s wife and jumping companion, Jean, was a great narrator both in the archival footage and the modern day reminiscence about her exploits with Carl. Perhaps the movie is best summed up by the wonderful interview I had at the end of the movie with one of the theatre patrons…

Reactions From the Audience
A man is walking out of the theatre with two young boys. I ask him about his reaction to the movie…

“I’ve been looking forward to this movie coming out for a long time. I’ve known about the making of it for, I think it’s been ten years now. Marah Strauch, the director, is a friend of mine. I was just blown away with how good it turned out. In the credits, I’m Johnny Utah. During the making of it, I did some interviewing with her. Some of the footage we shot was in the film. I’m a professional BASE jumper. I’m just really pleased with how it turned out. It’s definitely a grand tribute to Carl and Jean Boenish and the life they lead and, obviously, the starting of the modern sport of BASE jumping in which Carl is known as the father. It was a great tribute to him, his life and also to Jean Boenish.”

LanceAround, “I notice you have two young men here with you…”

“My name is Zach Winkelkotter…”

“And I’m Trevor Winkelkotter.”

LanceAround: “Are you guys related?”

Johnny Utah: “My real name is John Winkelkotter and my stage name is Johnny Utah in the BASE world.”

LanceAround: “Is it OK if I put their names on the blog?”

Johnny Utah: “Sure.”

LanceAround (To the boys): “What did you think of the movie?”

Zach: “I liked it a lot.”

Trevor: “Uh-huh, Yea!”

Zach: “I really liked the videos and stuff in it.”

LanceAround: “Is this the first time you’ve seen the movie?”

Both: “Yes.”

LanceAround: “People that jump off buildings, Antennas, spans or earth; are they crazy?”

Both: “No.”

LanceAround: “Are you guys going to jump off those things some day?”

Both: “Yes!”

Zach: “It would be really fun!”

LanceAround (to Johnny Utah): “You’ve got some BASE jumpers in the future there.” (Johnny nods.)

Zach: “Thank you very much.”

As we walk away from Johnny Utah, Mrs. LanceAround admonishes me for the question I asked the young boys about whether or not people who jump off buildings are crazy. She said Johnny looked really concerned. I assured her that my acknowledgement that they were future BASE jumpers would take away any concern he might have and he would realize I was just parroting one of the themes that occasionally cropped up in the documentary; the theme that some people believe those who BASE parachute must be a little out of their minds.

As usual, however, it turns out Mrs. LanceAround was absolutely right. A few minutes later I run into Johnny Utah again and he asks me what kind of blog I write. When I tell him it’s a local blog that features the events and attractions around Orlando, he directly asks me if I will be portraying the sport of BASE jumping in a negative way. It’s obvious that he’s sensitive to the issue of how BASE jumpers can sometimes be portrayed. I assure him that I meant no judgement; that my question was only meant to mirror the same question that appeared several times in the documentary when footage was played of old TV interviews.

We have a nice conversation about what it means to live life to the fullest, even if that introduces an element of danger. And people have different levels of threshold for that. I share with Johnny that for me, personally, I could never look off a cliff let alone jump off one. For others, jumping off a cliff is not pushing the edge of the envelope, it’s just the beginning of it.

Sometimes people, like Carl Boenish, die in their pursuit of these kinds of challenges. And others say, “They would not have died if they had not done this.” But I point out to Johnny that this is not a true statement. “Every one dies,” I state. “And for some people, they would much rather die doing what they love and being exactly who they are.” In many ways, that is the essence of this documentary.

 

FFF 2015 Welcome to Leith

April 12, 2015

WelcomeToLeith

Nixon’s Coming
A very short documentary about the time Richard Nixon unexpectedly left the White House early one morning to meet with anti-war protestors at the Lincoln Memorial. Factual and incredibly interesting, the movie interviews one of the young men who was photographed with Nixon along with his two female companions.

After the movie, Mrs. LanceAround reminds me that it could have been her in one of those photographs. When she was in college in Virginia, she  participated in two anti-war protests in Washington. But she never saw Nixon.  What an interesting connection.

Welcome to Leith
“Did you see the look on the faces of the theatre goers as they exited the theatre?,” asks Mrs. LanceAround.  She points out that everyone looked dazed and she herself felt stunned. This was an incredibly powerful documentary that detailed a small town in North Dakota that was overtaken by a well known…or should we say infamous…white supremacist leader who purchased property in the town with the sole purpose of taking control of the town’s governmental body of the small, 24 member community. He wanted to implement his own Aryian “intentional community” as he called it. Filmed by local graduates of UCF and Florida, it had its world premier here at the FFF.

It will be shown again on Tuesday and the filmmakers will be attendance. It is one documentary that you don’t want to miss. As many of the film goers said as they exited the theatre…”shocking,” “disturbing,” and “an excellent movie.”

Reactions From the Audience
“Not right now, I can’t talk about it,” replies one movie goer.

“No thanks,” says another.

Several of the film goers wouldn’t comment…or couldn’t comment. It was as if it was too painful to make a comment about the movie. And those who did had to stop and collect themselves before speaking. You could almost see their internal struggle between wanting to praise it for the great film that it was but then feeling guilty because they didn’t want to say something good about a movie that was about something so evil.

Mrs. LanceAround and I walk out of the theatre and into the lobby in our effort to find someone willing to go on the record and let us know their thoughts about this film.

“It was really good. Powerful,” says the man. “Disturbing,” chimes in the woman. When I asked how I should identify them in the blog, they reply they are long time FFF platinum passholders. When I asked them to rank this among all the documentaries they’ve seen over the years, the man replied, “It’s up there. It’s a really good one.”

 

FFF 2015 Day 2 The Desk

April 12, 2015
TheDesk

You Don’t Want to Miss This Documentary

Spearhunter
Sometimes when you hear the name of a movie you wonder, “What’s that movie about?” With this particular movie, the title says it all. It’s a short documentary about a man who claims to be the greatest living spearhunter in the world. He even built his own museum on route 59 in Summerdale, Alabama. It features all the animals he killed with a spear. It’s a great documentary. The protagonist died of a heart attack in 2011. (Yes, while he was out spearhunting!) However, his ex-wife and ex-girlfriend, both of whom are spearhunters and also work at the museum, are interviewed. Perhaps the funniest moment of the movie was at the very end. After viewing the museum filled with the stuffed carcasses of dead animals, the film featured the standard disclaimer: “No animals were harmed in the making of this film.” Is it just because Mrs LanceAround and I are vegetarians that we noticed this irony? Or  was it meant to be humorous?

The Desk
Today starts with one of those magical FFF moments that makes going to the festival so special. Mrs. LanceAround and I go to the documentary The Desk; not quite sure what it’s about or what the film will be like. The film itself is so sprawling, so complicated it’s even difficult to summarize. And yet, it is one of the most intelligent, inspiring, exhilarating films simply because it is just so  smart and wonderful to watch. Yes it is a bit confusing. No it isn’t filled with action. It isn’t that there is anything so great about the acting or the directing or the costumes or the sets. It is just a joy to see a film that is so thought provoking.

The Desk is an incredibly funny and very well conceived documentary–its only flaw  is that it is slightly overcomplicated, but well worth a look. The documentary features Andrew Goldman, a famous writer for the New York Times who was accused of misogyny and consequently fired. The story interweaves tales of intrigue within the Times, accusations of salacious relationships and some sort of nutty celebrity from New Zealand who tries to create his own mobile daytime talk show in America. Like I said, it’s a bit overcomplicated and difficult to convey in a short summary.

I can say it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. Mrs. LanceAround says that while the movie was sometimes difficult to navigate, she found it very intriguing.

Reactions From the Audience
“It was a weird movie. One way it made a left turn and turned into this thing about Iraq,” Says Carl F. Gauze who also writes a local blog.

“Just glad to be at another film festival,” said Scott. “I loved the movie. It was crazy. It was just a manic ride. Great!

“I thought it was great,” says the un-identified woman whom, when I asked, “How shall I identify you in the blog?” replied, “You shan’t!”

“Good…” Lee thoughtfully says about the movie. But she hesitates. “It was a little jumbled. But it was funny too. Of course, you recognize things in it. So you know what happened. It was a little on the wild side.”

“I liked it a lot,” muses Erica Karlinsky. She goes on to say that her son is in a short that’s playing at the Best of Brouhaha. “I’m so proud of him,” says Erica, referring to her son. He also had a role in Dolphin Tale 2. His name is Lee Karlinsky. He’s got an IMDB page,” his proud mother points out.

FFF 2015 Day 2 Grazers: A Cooperative Story

April 12, 2015
A Group of UCF Students Promote the Documentary

These “cow-boys” are here to promote the Documentary

Dick the Butcher
It almost seems unfair to ask vegetarians like Mrs. LanceAround and I to review a film called Dick the Butcher, a seven minute documentary about a man who’s been butchering pigs for 62 years. He claims he can’t read or write, but that doesn’t matter to him. The film shows the man taking a live pig, shooting him, and then carving the carcass. All I can say about the film is that it was so good, it might help convert more people to a vegetarian lifestyle. As the farmer points out in the film: people should know exactly where their food comes from! Perhaps that is a good thing.

Grazers: A Cooperative Story

A Tale About Saving the Family Farm

A Tale About Saving the Family Farm

Farming, in essence, is a business. The idyllic settings; the pastures, the barn, the landscapes; many people don’t realize that at its basic core, farming is a business. In this well made documentary, one farmer summed it up nicely by pointing out it’s not bad if you want to work seven days a week for no pay!

Yet, talk to any farmer who’s been doing it for years and they’ll tell you the same thing we saw in this documentary. It’s in their blood. They love it. It’s who they are.

In an effort to help failing farmers, a group of farmers in upstate New York got together and formed a co-op. This movie chronicled their first two years of ups and downs in an effort to make the farmers more successful. It was a look at the business side of farming that was informative, entertaining and very well done.

Reactions From the Audience
“It was wonderful,” says one male audience member.

“It was very informative,” says a contemplative Mary. “It was encouraging that people can work together to be successful; that people are willing to work together to be successful. That people are willing to support that…there’s a link to quality…that people will support it and pay for it. It’s really kind of nice. In such a mass market world, it’s good to see.”

FFF 2015 Day 2 Farmers & Food

April 12, 2015
Saturday Morning Farmer's Market at the Enzian

Saturday Morning Farmer’s Market at the Enzian

The FFF isn’t only about movies. It’s about food. It’s about fellowship. It’s about fun. Nowhere is this more evident than at some of the extra curricular activities held during the festival. One such activity is the Farmer’s Market held right beside the Enzian theatre on the first Saturday morning of the festival where you can get locally produced food, often organic, including fresh fruits, vegetables, spice mixes, fresh eggs and lots of creative items that are hard to find anywhere else. And you can meet the actual farmers and businesses that create these products. In the evening there’s a free tasting sponsored by Whole Foods at the Eden Bar. Here are some photos from these delicious activities

Fresh Eggs

Whole Foods Farmer Market

My Yard Farm

Whole Foods Tasting

Farmers

FFF 2015 Day 1 Welcome to Me

April 11, 2015

FFF-logo_final

Submarine Sandwich
Stop-motion wizard and FFF favorite PES produces another gem of a short film (only two minutes long) involving an ingenious mix of nostalgia, sports equipment and a sub sandwich. Watching it, I wondered if some of the younger members of the audience even got some of the old time references–Do young people even know what a Viewmaster is?

Some Great Acting with a Few Good Laughs

Some Great Acting with a Few Good Laughs

Welcome to Me
After the PES short, the opening night movie at this year’s FFF once again played to a sellout audience. It began with the annual enthusiastic opening remarks by our beloved Enzian president, Henry Maldonado.

There were many moments of laughter during this film. It was a great premise that featured some fabulous acting. While there were some really good moments, unfortunately, when it was all put together, the movie itself just didn’t quite work.

After the movie, Mrs. LanceAround and I spoke with several movie goers who confirmed our impression. There was something about the movie that was a little off. One FFF faithful mused that maybe it was a little too hard to laugh at mental illness.

The movie tells the story of Alice Klieg, a recluse who wins it big in the lottery and buys her own TV show staring herself. Kristen Wiig handles the role very well. She also executive produced. Her character’s narcissistic approach to life and her refusal to stay on her meds causes pain to those who love her. In the end, she tries to find redemption in a moment that should have been very touching but somehow managed to fall flat.

The movie carries an all star cast including Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Wes Bentley, Alan Tudyk and James Marsden. Even comic heavyweight Will Ferrell was involved as a producer. Shira Piven appeared to handle the directing admirably. But while the premise was worthy of exploration, writer Eliot Laurence seemed to have difficulty finding the right tone for the story. One glaring example of a script issue is when Alice’s condition is described as having started as manic depressive, then moved to bipolar and finally that was changed to borderline personality disorder. This is not an accurate understanding of these disorders. Perhaps had the screenwriter been more thorough in his research, he would have created a more believable and thereby sympathetic character.

As happens every Florida Film Festival, some movies are an undiscovered gem and others just strike us the wrong way. It’s part of what makes the festival so exciting…like a slot machine…you never know when a film will touch you. Tomorrow, there’s a great lineup of movies including ones highly recommended by Matthew Curtis, FFF Programming Director, such as The Desk, Welcome to Leith, and Sunshine Superman.

In addition, there’s a wonderful little Farmer’s Market at the Enzian at 11am and a Whole Foods Market Tasting at the Enzian at 6pm. Please join Mrs. LanceAround and I for a fun filled day of Food…Film…Friends!

We hope to see you there!