By Sean Boelman
After being delayed from its original April dates and being expanded from its usual ten days to a whopping two weeks of great films, this year’s Florida Film Festival kicks off today at the Enzian Theater in Orlando, FL. Following all recommended state and local guidelines and with added safety precautions in place, film lovers from Orlando will gather (socially distanced, of course) to watch the great selections made by the FFF team.
While all eyes will be on the in-person portion of the festival, as the success of the event may be a good indicator of how a reduced capacity festival may work for the rest of the year (and potentially into 2021), it’s important to note that this year’s festival also features a virtual component which will allow cinephiles to check out a majority of the films in the lineup from the safety and comfort of their own home for the low price of $40!
Leading up to the festival, disappointment media has had the opportunity to check out some of the films playing online and at the Enzian via exclusive press screenings or having had seen some of them via different festivals. Below are five of our favorite films that were included in the selection, and hopefully you get the chance to check them and some of the other great selections out!
Section: Spotlight Films
Screening: Virtual ONLY, 12-6pm on August 13
Although the midday screening time of the film may prevent those with a nine-to-five from checking out this film, Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss’s documentary Boys State is one NOT to miss if you can work it into your day. Following a group of boys at a summer camp where they form a mock representative government, this is both frequently hilarious and surprisingly horrifying with its commentary on American democracy. Although one may think that a bunch of teenagers may not be the most knowledgeable about the ins and outs of our government, there’s a surprisingly deep level of insight about some of the issues we are going through right now to be found in this film.
Things Happen Because
Section: Animated Shorts
Screening: August 12 @ 6:30pm; Also Available Virtually
Unlike some other festivals, the Enzian crew and Florida Film Festival take great care to feature up-and-coming filmmakers, and the community often comes out in droves to these shorts programs featuring exciting new voices. There isn’t a better example of that this year than Frank Volk’s Things Happen Because, an expressive (and very funny) Hertzfeldt-inspired short. It’s weird, dark, and not particularly family-friendly (leave the kids at home for this block), but it has a lot of charm in its five minutes. And if you still need to be convinced of how great this film is, it earned a spot in the main Animated Shorts competition rather than the more local “Sunshine & Swampland” block.
Some Kind of Heaven
Section: Florida Films
Screening: August 8 @ 12:00pm
Another great thing about the Florida Film Festival is that it always features films that are of significant local interest, and this year’s “Florida Films” feature is a particularly wonderful one: the Darren Aronofsky-produced documentary Some Kind of Heaven. Following some of the residents of the Florida retirement community The Villages, the film is equal parts funny and sad, and its cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. This examination of the facade that is suburban America may not be too flattering to the people who actually live in the area, but those who have visited will be intrigued by the ways in which director Lance Oppenheim calls out the hypocrisy of his subjects.
Fully Realized Humans
Section: Narrative Competition
Screening: August 8 @ 8:45pm
Last year’s Florida Film Festival featured a tribute screening of The Blair Witch Project with a reunion Q&A featuring the film’s cast. This year, one of those cast members, Joshua Leonard, returns to the fest with his new directorial outing Fully Realized Humans, an authentic and riotous look at the anxieties of parenthood. With some of the greatest visual gags in any film so far this year, this will have viewers rolling in their seats with laughters (although it’s not for those who are a bit prudish). And to top it off, the film features the interesting angle of having been shot while Leonard’s co-star Jess Weixler was actually pregnant and about to have her first child!
Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President
Section: Spotlight Films
Screening: August 18 @ 3:30pm; Also Available Virtually (Limited to 100 Tickets)
The other thing for which the Florida Film Festival is well-known is programming some excellent flicks for musicophiles, and while this year’s “Music Films” section is exciting, there’s another great music doc snuck into the Spotlight Films section. Mary Wharton’s documentary Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President is not only interesting because it explores the 39th Commander-in-Chief’s affinity for rock-and-roll, but also because its biographical portion is structured similarly to the traditional rock doc. It’s a consistently entertaining film packed with great tunes, some excellent interviews with musicians, and of course the opportunity to get to hear President Carter’s story in his own words. Both music fans and those interested in politics will definitely want to check this one out.
And that’s only a sampling of some of the great films that this year’s festival has to offer! Stay tuned to disappointment media to check out our ongoing coverage of the festival, which runs from August 7 through August 20 at the Enzian Theater. And if you’re in the Orlando area, you may just run into us at a few screenings, but please don’t run into us at home as we watch the virtually-available selections!
The Snake Hole
Retrospectives, opinion pieces, awards commentary, personal essays, and any other type of article that isn't a traditional review or interview.