Archive for May, 2015

FFF 2015 An Interview With Tony Sullivan

May 6, 2015
He's Too Humble to Admit It, But These Two Men Made History. This Blog Post Might Be the First Time You Hear About It.

He’s Too Humble to Admit It, But These Two Men Made History. This Blog Post Might Be the First Time You Hear About It.

As Mrs. LanceAround and I prepare to sit down with Tony Sullivan for a quick interview, we are interrupted by a woman who asks us to keep her identity anonymous. She turns to Tony and says:

“This may be my only chance. This is one of the things about the Florida Film Festival [To LanceAround] You had said he’s similar to Rosa Parks? [She turns her attention back to Tony] I feel like I’m in the presence of someone just like her; someone who made a contribution that I very much admire and I thank you so much! I’m so touched. I cried. I’m so grateful there are people as courageous as you who have done the things you have done. You inspire me.”

“Thank you. I appreciate that,” responds Tony, “but really we were only doing what came naturally to us. The thing that made it easier is we had each other. When chaos was going on around us, we were basically just focused on each other. So, in a strange way, we were selfish because we couldn’t be separated. We didn’t see ourselves as being particularly courageous.”

During the course of the interruption, the anonymous woman is standing and Tony, being the consummate gentleman, absolutely refuses to sit down until she departs.

Very seldom do people realize that history is being made at the very moment in time it is being made. The documentary Mrs. LanceAround and I just saw was Limited Partnership. It tells the story of Tony and his partner Richard, who were living in California in 1975 when they heard Boulder Colorado was issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. They went to Boulder and were legally married. Tony then became the first person in the United States to apply for a Green Card on the basis of being married–to another man!

The response from the government to Tony’s request for a Green Card came in the form of a letter that said, in part, “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots!”

Tony, ever the optimist, quickly goes on to say, “Which, by the way, was a gift–it gave us something to fight with!” That, alone, tells you something of this remarkable man’s character.

The federal government, probably recognizing that the letter was a tactless error, quickly follows up with another letter that Tony felt was even more offensive, “It said one of us couldn’t fulfill the female duties and obligations inherent in the marital situation.” He goes on to explain why this was more offensive, “Anyone who knows anything about what women have to deal with and what feminism stands for, has to say that was actually far, far more offensive than the ‘faggot letter’. It was manifesting an ingrained philosophical viewpoint within the society.”

I ask Tony if he’s aware of the significance of his role in history.

“I’m becoming aware of it,” he responds. “It’s sort of thrust on me. I’m just another person and yet life took just another person and put them in circumstances that created what it has created.”

“I’d like to challenge you on that,” I reply. “Based on research that you’ve seen, what percentage of the population is gay?”

“Probably 10%,” he responds.

“Do you know the population of the country in 1975?” I ask.

“250 million?” Tony guesses. [I Google this and he’s not far off, it is estimated at 216 million.]

“So that would mean 25 million people are gay. What percentage of gay people are in committed relationships, approximately?” I inquire further.

“probably about two or three percent.” He guesses.

“So you’re looking at 500,000 to 750,000 gays in a committed relationship in 1975,” I point out. “And probably, because of the nature of their relationship, a large percentage of those people were aware of the marriages taking place in Boulder, CO…”

“I see where you’re going with this…” Tony muses.

“Now, out of those several hundred thousand committed gay couples, how many took the trip to Boulder, CO, like you did, to get married?”

“Six,” he replies.

“And you were one of them?” I drive my point home.

“Yes.”

“So the next time you’re tempted to say, ‘I’m just an ordinary person who was doing an ordinary thing.’ I’d like you to keep in mind that what you did was extraordinary.”

“You’ve made a point,” Tony concedes. “But I’m not going to fertilize that thought. One of the things I defend against in life, and have done so for a long time, is ego stimulation. I have no desire to get carried away by my own importance.”

LanceAround counters, “The problem is, based entirely on what I saw in this movie, I have an incredible amount of respect for you. I’m not sure there’s anything I can do but stroke your ego.”

“I appreciate the compliment and the factual nature of the remark, but I’ve seen too many people destroy themselves and spoil things they’ve done because they’ve become enchanted with themselves and what they’ve done. On top of that, I’m 70 and I probably have another 30 years of life so I have other things to do rather than get preoccupied with the past.”

Once again our interview is interrupted by another woman who can’t restrain herself from greeting Tony and thanking him. Tony indicates he has to go back to his hotel, so I ask him one last question…

“I went to Messiah College, a very conservative Christian College in Pennsylvania. In my college, a young student went to a protest of Jerry Falwell. Even though he presented himself as a conservative Christian, people in our college felt Jerry Falwell did many things that were un-Christian. At that protest, this young student saw another group of protestors. Among them were two men who were walking arm in arm with a sign that read, “We won’t go back into the closet.” This young man looked at those two gay men with disgust. He thought that if these despicable people were protesting Jerry Falwell, he wanted nothing to do with the protest. What might you say to this young man if he were here with you today?”

“My answer is, if he’s a practicing Christian and he believes in Christianity, put aside the Old Testament, put aside even St. Paul, and read the words of Christ–those words alone. If he reads the sermon on the mount he’ll realize that he is not to judge. He is not to see the beam in other people’s eyes. You know, I’m not a Christian anymore. But the gospel of Christ is the gospel of love. And he should read about Mary Magdalene and take the lessons. Even the words of Christ, not the words of St. Paul or anyone else. And the words of Christ are such that he should be loving everyone. And even if they are sinners, he should love them. I would just love him. You know, just love him. People say horrible things because they don’t know better–very good people say horrible things and do horrible things because they don’t know better.”

“True confession, Tony,” responds LanceAround, “That person was me. I’m the one who used to think that two gay men were the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen and I wanted it to go away. At the time I believed I was being a good Christian. I don’t believe that now.”

“Well, I hope I’ve answered what you asked.” replies Tony. “There was a time when I didn’t take offense when I heard someone say, ‘women should be barefoot and pregnant and stay in the kitchen.’ It’s all about growing. I’m a great believer in redemption. So congratulations.”

LanceAround continues, “I want to apologize to you, and to all gay people, for the viewpoints that I had. I can see now how wrong I was. And I never knew what to do about it. This is the first time I’ve talked openly, publicly about them to someone whom I can say, ‘I was wrong!’ It took me a long time to get there. I understand that now.”

“When we do something from an honest perspective, we need to be careful when we use the word ‘wrong’. I think it’s easy to say, ‘I didn’t understand’ or ‘I was ignorant’. The only reason I say that is, it’s too common in this world today for people to say, ‘I was wrong’ and sort of blame themselves for something that you can’t blame yourself for. What you should do is celebrate and say, ‘I’ve changed’ rather than ‘I was wrong’. We’re all wrong on a multitude of things. I’ve still got those things that I wake up at two o’clock in the morning out of a deep sleep, ‘oh heavens’, and I’m thinking of something from back in the 1950s. Rejoice in the change is what we ought to do! And I really mean that.”

At this point, Mrs. LanceAround turns to Tony and says, “You are a lovely human being.”

Tony offers one final thought, “The thing that has served me better than any other thing in life is when I discovered St. Francis of Assisi. That’s really where I got my philosophy of life from.”

At this point, Tony recites a few lines from the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi to end the interview.

StFrancisPrayer

 

FFF 2015 An Evening With Sam Rockwell Featuring Moon

May 2, 2015
Sam Rockwell is Interviewed on the Enzian Stage

What is the Most Quoted Movie Line of All Time–In Your Family?

Everyone who loves movies, has their favorite movie quote. It’s so ubiquitous, the American Film Institute even has a list of the top 100 movie quotes of all time. Number One on the list is, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” from Gone With the Wind. Number Two is, “I’m goinna make him an offer he can’t refuse,” from The Godfather. Not in the LanceAround family! The most quoted movie line in our household was actually spoken by Sam Rockwell. You can hear him make a guess as to what it is below. First, let’s talk about the movie we saw tonight (which does not have our favorite quote) and Sam’s interactions with the FFF faithful.

Moon is a 2009 sci-fi thriller about Sam Bell, a solitary worker on the moon coming to end of his three year contract to mine a newly discovered energy source. He’s looking forward to going home but an accident causes a series of events and discoveries that turns his lonely existence upside down. Sam Rockwell stars as Sam Bell and Kevin Spacey voices the sophisticated computer, GERTY, that assists him. The story was conceived and directed by Duncan Jones with stunning art direction by Hideki Arichi and Cinematography by Gary Shaw.

After being treated to this wonderful film, Sam Rockwell came onto the Enzian stage for an interview and audience Q & A.

Sam Takes Questions From the Audience

Sam Takes Questions From the Audience

“Thank God for Duncan Jones,” said Sam, “He really gave me a great part.” Sam goes on to say that Duncan offered him a “bad guy” role in a movie, but he was tired of playing the bad guy. Duncan asked him what he wanted to play and he replied, “Sci-fi.” He goes on to describe his role in Moon as a “working class” sci-fi character. Kevin Spacey did not accept the role of the computer voice for GERTY until after the film was shot.

Sam’s parents were in the industry, that’s how he got started. While it was in his blood, he says he took it for granted until, at the age of 24, when he took a course with Bill Esper, the world’s foremost studio dedicated to Meisner-based actor training.

Many movie goers became familiar with Sam from his breakout performance in Galaxy Quest. He portrayed an aging actor who once had a bit part in a very popular sci-fi TV show but is now relegated to signing autographs for die hard “Questarians” at their annual conventions. His spunky, energetic performance earned him high praise.

During the Q & A, LanceAround told Sam that in the LanceAround Household, the most popular repeated movie quote is one of his. Here’s a video of LanceAround encouraging Sam to guess which quote might be the family favorite:

It was clear the audience at the Enzian loved Sam. One of them said they noticed that Sam dances in a lot of his roles and insisted he stand up and dance. Another kept asking him to bartend at the Enzian bar after the show, just like Cloris Leachman had done back in 2012. One encouraged him to direct a movie, but Sam maintains he’s too lazy to direct. He acknowledged, however, that he has no other talent and if he couldn’t act, he has no idea how he might earn an income.

Unlike many well known Hollywood actors, Sam comes across as very humble and self-effacing. He’s a genuine guy. And if you didn’t get to see him at the Enzian, well, as everyone in the LanceAround family would say…[click on link below…]

FFF 2015 Day 10 Pervert Park

May 2, 2015
A Hard Hitting Documentary That Poses Questions Difficult to Answer

A Hard Hitting Documentary That Poses Questions Difficult to Answer

Mrs. LanceAround and I decide to end our 2015 FFF by watching the documentary Pervert Park. After 10 days of intense film watching, mostly documentaries, this film provided a powerful ending to a fantastic film festival.

This well made documentary centers around a trailer park in St. Petersburg, FL, just down the road from Orlando, that houses people who are registered sex offenders. The range of sex offenses causing someone to be registered are many and varied.

One offender was a very young man who was invited to have sex, online, with a 30 year old woman. He was gung-ho, until the woman encouraged him to include her 14 year old daughter. According to him, the woman continued to insist until he agreed, with one sentence, to perform a sex act with the 14 year old. When he showed up, he discovered it was an undercover sting operation. Bang. He’s now labeled a sex offender for the rest of his life.

On the other end of the spectrum was the woman who was encouraged to have sex with her father when she was very young. She then claims she had an un-consenting abortion and was told she couldn’t have children. She did have an unexpected pregnancy and gave birth to a son. When her son was eight, at the encouragement of a man who promised he would send her money and solve her problems, she had sex with her own son. Her son went on to sexually abuse another relative. It was heart wrenching to see her tearfully discuss what even she describes as the inconceivable and admittedly repulsive desire to continue to have sex with her father and then with anyone she could have sex with, including her own son. A competent therapist may have helped her to understand that when a young prepubescent child is forced into sexual acts with an adult who is meant to protect them, it is very common to emotionally intertwine the sex act as the way to express and receive affection. Unfortunately, there was never any therapist to help her work through these difficult and complex issues.

Normally, LanceAroundOrlando does not like to discuss such adult themes in graphic detail on a family oriented blogsite. But we believe this is an important social issue that needs to be examined. On the one hand, those branded as sex offenders are often tossed aside by our society. The trailer park in the movie showed numerous examples of vandalism and ill will sent in their direction, including a resident who found a bag of dead rats thrown into his laundry. On the other hand, repeat sex offenders can have difficulty controlling the illegal activities in which they engage. No one wants to see someone else abused, especially when the abuser had been caught once already.

Ironically, the movie reveals that not even the sex offenders want someone to be abused. The film showed some brutal honesty. Offenders readily admit their crime and express tearful remorse. Most offenders are following a pattern of abuse that began when they were abused and continues to trickle down. Group therapy sessions in the movie explore the dynamic of low self esteem which many offenders admit is a big contributor to their issues.

During this movie, the group therapist who works with many of the residents at the trailer park highlights the downhill spiral that keeps these people from finding redemption. They are branded for life. Many have to be on expensive probation programs, wear bracelets that greatly restrict their movements and have draconian rules which make it almost impossible to find a place to live, work or play. In short, they have nowhere to go and nothing to do. Understandably, no one wants the sex offender in their backyard. Ironically, this attitude tends to create the dynamics that make it even harder to address this issue. Should we simply kill them? Put them away for life? Ship them to a deserted island? No doubt, there are many in our society who believe we should do these things, even if they have the social skills to refrain from saying so out loud.

The person who founded the trailer park spoke about how she became passionate about this issue when her “perfect” son made that one mistake 20 years ago and wound up in the position that everyone in the trailer park finds themselves. She looks at the camera and asks the documentarian, who is off camera, if she has a child. Upon acknowledgement, she asks if the child is perfect. Of course. So was hers, until he made that “one” mistake.

The movie ends with the most dramatic and powerful credits in any movie I have ever seen. In place of normal credits, the screen shows the webpage of each person who appeared in the movie. A webpage that anyone in the world can easily access. It reveals their name, alias, last know address and the crime they committed. The laws of our country require this webpage to be available for all to see. LanceAroundOrlando fully understands the desire to protect our society. We understand the good intentions of those who create these laws. But the unintended consequences of publicly branding criminals has repercussions that cannot be easily dismissed. We know this is a topic with hard questions and no easy answers. The fact that I have spent this entire blogpost looking at this issue and did not spend it highlighting the filming techniques, directorial choices and/or cinematography is a testament to just how well done this film is. It was so good, it forced us to focus on the issue in the film and not on how the film was created. It is very powerful. I highly recommend it.

An earlier movie at the FFF had a father whose black son was killed by a white man at a gas station for playing loud music. This grieving father talked about the issue of our American society which has 5% of the world’s population yet has 25% of the world’s prisoners. Many of these prisoners are minorities from disadvantaged backgrounds. What makes matters worse is that the prisons in this country are, more and more, being run by for-profit corporations who promise 90% occupancy and a profit back to the governmental agency that contracts with the prison company. In other words, we are now using prisons for profit and dropping any pretense of using our incarceration system as a means for rehabilitation, education and healing. The black father identified this dynamic as a way our society is fueling racism. However, the same statistics highlight a concurrent problem that exists with anyone who comes in contact with our justice system, such as these sex offenders. We do not do enough to seek ways to help people find rehabilitation and redemption.

Lastly, for those who read this blog post and are upset with Mrs. LanceAround and I for bringing more light to these issues, I will give you one final piece of information to consider: I, myself, was sexually abused when I was younger by a man named Frank Fimiano. (I have vowed to myself that I will never reveal this information without also revealing the name of the person who abused me–so I fully understand the desire to publicly brand the offender–Am I trying to punish him or protect others from him? That’s the devil I live with every day.) And I know full well how it is to feel intense hatred towards someone who abuses an innocent person. Still, my better angels tell me there must be some way to find rehabilitation and redemption.

FFF 2015 Day 10 Florida Shorts: Best of Brouhaha

May 1, 2015
Our Friend, Lee Karlinsky, Stars in Down the Road

Our Friend, Lee Karlinsky, Stars in Down the Road

Dictionary.com translates brouhaha as, “A noisy and overexcited reaction to something.”

Judging from the crowd that was entering the auditorium on this last day of the FFF, there was a lot of noisy and excited reactions. Unlike most festival audiences, there was an energy in this room that felt different. People were boisterously greeting one another from across the room. There was an air of camaraderie. It felt like the TV show Cheers where everyone shouts, “Norm” when the character of Norm enters the bar. This crowd was slightly younger than at most FFF films. This made me a little concerned because, sometimes, the films can be intense. Turns out, several of these youngsters were the stars in these films; including Lee Karlinsky who had a role that was peppered with colorful language; totally inappropriate for a lad of his years. (No worries, I spoke to both his parents, aunt and grandparent after the movie and they all assured me that he was only saying what was in the script; at home he never uses such language!)

The Enzian Theatre sponsors more festivals than just the FFF. One of those is the Brouhaha which features movies made in the state of Flordia. From these, the selection committee picked 13 short films for this program. At first, I was concerned that these films would not be as good as other films that came from a wider network and had not planned to see this program. But after meeting Lee and his mother Erica at two previous programs, there was no way I could skip his movie. Turns out, this was a great shorts program!

Down the Road
This is the film that stars our young friend Lee Karlinsky. Although the production values on this movie are not of the same quality as most of the others, the script featured an amusing plot device (very reminiscent of Back to the Future which the film references.) Young Lee handles a challenging role admirably. Part of the difficulty with the script is that the author had difficulty distinguishing between the older and younger self. Often, the younger self was given a line way too mature for his age. The premise of the film helped the audience past these bumps, however, creating an amusing and likeable short.

Beer Battle
An antiquated law in Florida makes it illegal to sell beer in a quart bottle. Ironically, you can sell it in smaller bottles and larger bottles. This creates an issue for local breweries who normally dispense their wares for the customer into a reusable bottle that is traditionally in a size which is illegal. The documentary accuses the established beverage industry of using political power to keep the law on the books.

My Verse
Full Sail University professor Wilson Santos has created a beautifully moving film where he reads a poem he’s written while showing film clips of disadvantaged people around the world. The poem encourages the listener to get involved. Wilson does not tout any one specific charity. Rather, he encourages viewers to research and select a reputable one.

Broken: Rock, Paper, Scissors
This is one of those films where it is essential that you know the title before you watch it. Since I missed the title, I assumed one of the characters was simply a knock off of Edward Scissorhands. I also had no idea why one of the other characters was injured every¬† time he tried to help. Of course, he was “Rock” and she was “Paper.” In the end…well, this one is poignant enough that I encourage you to see it for yourself. Created at Ringling College of Art and Design, the alma mater of our NumberTwoSon.

Kung Fu Crab
Also from Ringling, this cute short features a Kung Fu Crab, a pet hermit, who is quite capable of inflicting damage on his owner who decided to make a crab cake!

Life in Darkness
Excellent acting and production values in this short overcome a weak script. Two brothers are forced to deal with a difficult past and a very uncertain present.

Death Has a Son
Would the Angel of Death trade sexual favors to spare the life of a woman? Could he conceive a son? Just, exactly, how would that relationship go? The amusing film was only hampered by the reality that Death kills everyone he touches…so he can’t touch his son. But, then again, it never shows how the son was conceived???

AbandonedLove

There’s Lots More Where These Came From

Abandoned Love
Over 100 abandoned cats are lucky enough to find sanctuary at Cat Tail Corner in DeLeon Springs, FL. However, un-neighborly neighbors contact the authorities with complaints. How will the good hearted Kristy deal with the $80,000 in fines she is assessed? Does she have to close? If you can’t see this movie, I’ve given you enough information to at least Google her. Great documentary.

Fix
In our opinion, this was the best film of this program. A tight, well plotted script combined with exceptional acting and great production values made this tense thriller captivating all the way up to its surprise ending.

Billy the Fetus
Although the production values were not as great in this film, the acting and humorous script were enough to make this one of the more memorable of today’s shorts. You may never look at abortion the same way after seeing this film. Then again, based on the Q & A with the director, that might have been the intention…

Jinxy Jenkins, Lucky Lou
Another CGI short from Ringling, this one is the amusing story of a luckless young man and how his interactions with a charmed young lady create the perfect pairing.

Of Mice and Moon
The final Ringling CGI short is a very brief and cute ditty about a father mouse who helps his young son discover whether or not the moon has cheese.

Dan Behind His Eyes

Loving Father, Doting Daughter

Loving Father, Doting Daughter

The most emotional of today’s shorts, this documentary tells the story of Dan Ellis, a successful businessman who contracted ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease.) A total quadriplegic, he learns to paint by using a computer assistant device and telling his 13 year old daughter which colors to mix and how to create the paintings. Samples of his artwork were on display outside the theatre. Very moving and well done doc.

Filmmaker Q & A
Since these were all Florida films, there was a disproportionately larger number of filmmakers in attendance. And that does not include all the actors, technicians and other support staff present.

I asked Ariel Zengotita if he intended his film, Billy the Fetus, to be an anti-abortion film and if he would be okay should the Catholic League want to promote his movie.

He said that the project began as just a humorous exploration, but the more and more he thought about it, the more he became passionate about the subject matter. Later, at the concession stand, we ran into Ariel and he shared with us his parents had actually considered aborting him. Mrs. LanceAround shared that the woman sitting beside her at the theatre sobbed during the entire film.

Both David DeRienzo and Ariel Zengotita gave a shout out to the young actors in their movie, both of whom were present. One of them is our friend Lee Karlinsky who David said got the role when the original person he cast had to attend a bar mitzvah.

Wilson Santos refused my request to quote something from his latest poem, but he did let the audience know he was doing a reading and another screening of his film at a local venue. Unfortunately, I did not get the time or place.

Sarah Allsup told us that the woman in her film who saves cats continues this service. She provided contact information if anyone wanted to help her cover the $50/day cost for cat food.

Sheri Kebbel had the most emotional film. I asked her if her subject saw the movie before passing. She replied that they put together a lot of the movie clips and shared them with him. She also handed out greeting cards that featured artwork done by the subjects in her film. This was clearly an emotional moment for her and her film was deservedly well received.