My friend Eliza and I enjoyed watching the imaginary fairy and dragon worlds unite and come to life during a brilliantly illuminated 3/4-mile jaunt in a lush ambiance.
The delightful and easy-to-follow story is written, directed and costume designed by Donald Spencer, and features a feisty, young Irish fairy Freya who is tired of hanging out with her dragon pal illegally in Tir Na Nog. She decides to become a changemaker and have the law overturned by visiting the almighty wizard Alastair.
Along the way, she befriends a fearless dragon named Dauntless and encounters two comical trolls, two magnificent phoenixes and nine colorful, animatronic dragons of all shapes and sizes during the one-hour journey.
The actors who portray Freya and Dauntless are energetic and believable. Freya also nailed the Irish accent during her performance.
The gorgeous costumes and vibrant lighting helped transform Leu Gardens into a glorious fantasia while telling a tale that demonstrates how you can overcome trials and tribulations with the power of friendship.
The family-friendly event is created by the same team who turned Leu Gardens into a winter wonderland during Dazzling Nights and presented the theatrical experience “Down the Rabbit Hole.” The group also brings IMMERSE to downtown Orlando every October.
Online tickets for “Dragons & Fairies” are $22 per person on Wednesday and Thursday nights and $25 per person on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately depending on the weather.
The Hall on The Yard opened in November 2021 and is a modern food hall concept that includes nine eateries, three cocktail bars, indoor and outdoor dining spaces and a banquet room.
The dimly-lit ambiance with chandeliers thrown in for good measure is casual chic, but not pretentious.
A server provides guests with a menu that features all dining options and the orders are taken on tablets.
Poke (pronounced po kay) is a Hawaiian dish, and Huli Bowl & Rotisserie’s main act.
The chefs take diners on a culinary exploration overflowing with creative and thoughtful menu offerings.
I had an opportunity to participate in my first poke-dining experience during a Huli Bowl & Rotisserie tasting that included appetizers, entrees and a dessert.
The starters included five Poke Nachos, three Huli-Huli BBQ Sliders and a bowl of edamame.
The Poke Nachos are the bomb and include ahi tuna, sesame-ginger poke, wakame (edible seaweed), ginger tomato, avocado puree, spicy aioli, crispy garlic, scallion and sesame cracker. The sesame-ginger poke, ginger tomato and spicy aioli gave the nachos a kick that surprised my palate but didn’t overpower the tasty appetizer. The sesame crackers also were a nice touch.
Begin your meal with Poke Nachos at Huli Bowl & Rotisserie. Photo by Sandra Carr.
The Huli-Huli BBQ Sliders were next and didn’t disappoint! The small, but mighty sandwich includes pulled pork, coconut garlic slaw, ginger pickles and crispy shallots mixed together and piled high on slider buns. The Hawaiian version was an innovative and delicious twist on barbecue sliders!
The edamame (soybeans) was presented on a bed of greens and steamed to perfection. Each soybean popped out of its pod easily and was seasoned just right.
The first savory headliner I sampled was the Poke Rose bowl. The ingredients include ahi tuna, sesame-ginger sauce, edamame, avocado, wakame, scallion, radish, jasmine rice, spicy aioli, a seven-spice blend, chia and mixed greens. The sesame-ginger sauce and spicy aioli pepped up the bodacious bowl, but didn’t turn me away from the other delicious ingredients.
The Pacific Pig and Chimichurri Pulled Duck pressed sandwiches were the next stop on my gastronomic journey. Each sandwich was different, but delightful!
The Pacific Pig includes pulled pork, crispy spam, sliced porchetta (pronounced porketta), gruyere, ginger pickle, coconut-garlic aioli and agave mustard on a pressed hoagie with pork gravy on the side for your dunking pleasure. The secret weapon is the crispy spam, which is homemade and a specialty at the eatery.
The Chimichurri Pulled Duck features hemp-heart chimichurri jasmine rice, pulled duck, brie, charred onion and spicy aioli on pressed ciabatta bread with spiced duck jus.
The Pacific Pig and Chimichurri Pulled Duck pressed sandwiches each come with one side at Huli Bowl & Rotisserie. Photo by Sandra Carr.
The last entree that was presented to the group by Chef Jason Cline was the Huli-Huli BBQ Chicken. The half-bird includes a pineapple, sweet-pepper puree, crispy garlic, sesame and cilantro. The dinner also comes with two sides. The chef included spaghetti squash and roasted sweet potato with the barbecue chicken during my tasting. The rotisserie chicken melted in my mouth and the sides were a marvelous match!
I paired my delicious dishes with The Hall on The Yard’s My Tie, which isn’t a Mai Tai, but has a tiki taste. The craft cocktail’s ingredients include Bambu rum, sage-infused Flor de Cana rum, allspice dram, falernum, pineapple, lime and bitters.
Last but not least was the coconut-lime creme brulee. I’m a big creme brulee fan! I also love coconut, so this mixture was right up my alley! The delicious dessert includes shortbread cookie crumbles, fresh fruit compote, toasted coconut and sesame seed. I didn’t want this sweet sensation to end!
Experience the Aloha State in Orlando’s backyard at the Huli Bowl & Rotisserie. The eatery has a savory selection on its moderately-priced menu, with its prices ranging from $10.95-$34.95.
The Florida Film Festival continues to shine brightly during its 30-year anniversary while premiering the best in current, independent and international cinema at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Florida.
What an amazing journey! I have been covering the Florida Film Festival for nearly 30 years! I have experienced many marvelous memories that I will cherish forever!
Bringing Hollywood to Maitland has been a part of the Florida Film Festival’s successful formula. Actor appearances have included Drew Barrymore, Dennis Hopper, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, John Waters, Glenn Close, Jon Voight, Paul Sorvino, Cloris Leachman, Susan Sarandon, Emma Stone, John Krasinski, Tippi Hedren, Sissy Spacek, Bob Balaban, Pam Grier, Lea Thompson, Richard Dreyfuss and other famous celebs over the years.
One of my all-time, favorite memories was when I had an opportunity to interview Dennis Hopper for WCPX Channel 6 (it’s now WKMG Channel 6) during the Florida Film Festival’s awards ceremony at Universal Studios (it’s now the Universal Orlando Resort) in June 1994. Hopper received the John M. Tiedtke Enzian Award for Artistic Vision during the event
I have been a Rick Springfield fan for the past 40 years! Longtime Springfield fan and executive producer Melanie Lentz-Janney fulfilled her dream of filming the “An Affair of the Heart” documentary about the rock star and his fans with gal pal and Emmy Award-winning director-producer Sylvia Caminer. The documentary had its world premiere at the Florida Film Festival in April 2012. I had an opportunity to interview Springfield on the red carpet during his appearance at the Florida Film Festival.
New Zealand stuntwoman-turned-actress Zoë Bell participated in a question-and-answer session after the screening of Quentin Tarantino’s action-thriller “Death Proof” in April 2013.
I also had an opportunity to interview actress Emma Stone before the opening-night film party at the Enzian Theater for VenusZine in April 2010.
I also hung out with actor Bob Balaban after the screening of “Gosford Park” in April 2015.
I also enjoyed watching “The Godfathers of Hardcore,” which is a music documentary on the band Agnostic Front. The group’s lead vocalist Roger Miret participated in a question-and-answer session and meet-and-greet after the screening in April 2018.
The Florida Film Festival also provides moviegoers with an opportunity to learn about a director’s experiences and perspectives. One of those moments occurred when legendary director Barry Levinson participated in a question-and-answer session in April 2012.
I also enjoyed seeing my friends who were involved with “The Blair Witch Project” celebrate the film’s 20-year anniversary at the Florida Film Festival in 2019.
Besides the actor and director appearances, the Florida Film Festival has received other nods, including being listed as one of the 20 coolest film festivals by MovieMaker Magazine and one of the top 50 film festivals in the world by The Internet Movie Database (Imdb.com).
The flick fete is also an Oscar-qualifying festival in animated short film, live action short film and documentary short subject.
This year’s 14-day festival is sponsored by Full Sail University and will feature more than 160 films, 23 world premieres and movies from 31 countries from April 9-22, 2021.
The film festival also is overflowing with girl power! Ninety films are focused on the ladies and 50% were directed by women.
The opening-night film and party will be occurring at the Enzian Theater on Friday, April 9 from 6-11 p.m., and features the world premiere of “Because of Charley,” a film about two estranged families who are attempting to stage a 10-year anniversary surprise party on Friday the 13th in Celebration, Florida. The movie was filmed in Celebration last summer and stars legendary actor John Amos and local actress Peg O’Keef. Admission is $60 for the party, which includes local bites, brews and cocktails, and $25 for the film.
Munch during brunch outdoors before the movie at Eden Bar on Sunday, April 11 and Sunday, April 18 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.! The bottomless brunch cost $18.99 and includes one Bloody Mary or mimosa. A movie ticket is not required. All guests must be masked, unless actively eating or drinking.
Get cozy and spacey while watching John Carpenter’s “Starman” at the Enzian Theater on Sunday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. The romantic science-fiction odyssey stars Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen. A Zoom question-and-answer session with Allen will follow the screening. Admission is $25.
Sit back and enjoy a cold brewski while listening to local music during Wednesday Beer Tastings at the Eden Bar on Wednesday, April 14 and Wednesday, April 21 from 6-8 p.m.! Ivanhoe Park Brewing Co. will be serving the beer samples.
“Blue Velvet,” one of my favorite David Lynch films, turns 35 this year, and will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Sunday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m.! The neo-noir mystery thriller stars Dennis Hopper, Isabella Rossellini and Kyle MacLachlan. A Zoom question-and-answer session with Rossellini will follow the screening. Admission is $25 and on standby.
Calling all foodies! Watch “The Truffle Hunters” at the Enzian Theater on Sunday, April 11 at 11 a.m.! The film takes moviegoers on an epicurean journey through the deep forests of northern Italy in search of the prized white Alba truffle.
The excursion continues by traveling back in time to the “Summer of ’85.” Experience a motorcycle ride throughout a Normandy seaside town in this coming-of-age French film about two friends with different dreams at the Enzian Theater on Tuesday, April 20 at 3:45 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
Music makes its mark at the Florida Film Festival! Punk-rock trailblazer and poet Lydia Lunch is featured in the documentary “Lydia Lunch: The War is Never Over” at the Enzian Theater on Saturday, April 17 at 11:30 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
My favorite ukulele musician Tiny Tim is featured in the documentary “Tiny Tim: King for a Day” at the Enzian Theater on Thursday, April 22 at 3:45 p.m. Weird Al Yankovic is the narrator. The film also is available to watch online.
The documentary “No Ordinary Man” is about a diverse group of contemporary trans artists who bring renowned jazz musician Billy Tipton’s life to the big screen. The film will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Monday, April 19 at 9:30 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
The “Shots in the Dark with David Godlis” documentary is about the unofficial CBGB photographer who documented the burgeoning New York City punk scene during the 1970s. The film will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Monday, April 12 at 3:30 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
Prolific rock ‘n’ roll and Rolling Stone photographer Baron Wolman meets up-and-coming free-form artist Sophie Kipner, and agrees to allow her to interpret his work in “Sophie and the Baron.” The film will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Tuesday, April 20 at 6:30 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
The life of legendary jazz musician Billy Tipton is told by a diverse group of contemporary trans artists in “No Ordinary Man.” The documentary will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Monday, April 19 at 9:30 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
Besides “Because of Charley,” other Florida films are being featured at the Florida Film Festival!
The “Florida Woman” short is about ex-pro wrestler and Lakeland, Florida resident Mary Thorn, who is battling with local officials to keep her pet alligator Rambo. The film will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Saturday, April 10 at 10 a.m. The film also is available to watch online.
The horror flick “The Old Ways” was created by Florida filmmakers and follows a Mexican-American reporter Cristina Lopez, who is on assignment in Veracruz, Mexico. She gets captured by a local “bruja,” a Mexican witch doctor, who believes Cristina is possessed with a demon. Cristina must stop at nothing to escape her personal prison while investigating what evil forces lie underneath the surface of the jungle, and the demons of her past. The film will be screening at the Enzian Theater on Friday, April 16 at 9:15 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
“Icon” is a narrative feature film debut from Florida native filmmaker and Ringling College of Art and Design graduate Tony Ahedo, BFA. The film is about a teenage skateboarder named Sam who is questioning the important people or icons in his life. His imprisoned dad left his mom for another woman when he was a child. Sam also struggles with having a good relationship with his mom and learns that his girlfriend Ana is pregnant. Sam is on a self-discovery journey as he figures out his past, present and future paths in life. The film screens at the Enzian Theater on Thursday, April 22 at 6:15 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
“My Fiona” tells the poignant story of grief and loss while exploring sexual identity after a woman’s friend commits suicide. The film screens at the Enzian Theater on Sunday, April 18 at 2 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
Artist Tim Carey is on a mission to create the largest stained-glass window that’s the size of a basketball court for a Kansas City mega-church. Italian artist Narcissus Quagliata collaborates with Carey and saves the day. The film will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Wednesday, April 14 at 9:15 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
“Snowy” is a tale about a terrific turtle that ventures out after being in a terrarium for a decade. The film will be screening at the Enzian Theater on Monday, April 12 at 3:30 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
A woman returns to her estranged family in New England, and reconnects with a former lover. When the robbery they plan goes awry, she must choose between abandoning her family again or taking responsibility for the chaos she’s created in “The Catch.” The film will be screening at the Enzian Theater on Monday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
“Jacinta” explores a complicated relationship with a mother and daughter in drug-ravaged Maine. The film will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Wednesday, April 21 at 6:30 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
Homeless and single mom Dani and her daughter Wes camp outside of the city. Dani works several jobs and tries to overcome obstacles in order to save money to rent an apartment in “I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking).” The film will be screening at the Enzian Theater on Saturday, April 17 at 6:15 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
A young cleaning woman at a strip club parties with the dancers and fantasizes about a stripper life in “Gabriela.” The film will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Sunday, April 11 at 1:45 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
A hairstylist scalps clients’ heads who she wants to look like in “The Stylist.” The film will be screening at the Enzian Theater on Tuesday, April 13 at 9:30 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
YouTube starLily Hevesh creates and designs colorful and mind-blowing domino displays. The documentary “Lily Topples the World” follows her domino-art lifestyle. Her domino art was in the film “Collateral Beauty,” starring Will Smith. She also has created domino art for Katy Perry, Jimmy Fallon, the Today Show and others. Lily also has her own domino set line called H5 Domino Creations. The enlightening and touching documentary shares how Lily has mastered building, creating and toppling dominoes. The film will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Sunday, April 11 at 4:30 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
Ed Popil, a.k.a. Mrs. Kasha Davis, was a contestant on the seventh season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” The documentary takes the audience on a journey and shows how her life had changed after becoming a drag performer in the “Workhorse Queen.” Actress, comedian and former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Rachel Dratch makes a cameo appearance in the documentary. The film will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Saturday, April 10 at 8:45 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
“No Man’s Land” is a documentary short that features women who live in a lesbian separatist community in Alapine, which is located in rural Alabama. The film will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Saturday, April 10 at 8:45 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
Actor Will Ferrell portrays a therapist who becomes angry when his personal life intrudes on a depressed patient’s emergency session in “David.” The film will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Saturday, April 10 at 12:30 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
Boyfriends Shane and Dusty are two Stevie Nicks-loving bears who discuss their relationship and a magical concert moment involving the original shawl from the “Stand Back” video in this animated short titled “The Shawl.” The film will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Wednesday, April 14 at 6:30 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
“The Shining” has gone to the dogs! A family’s new rescue pup is terrorized by deceased pets in “Ghost Dogs.” The animated film will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Wednesday, April 14 at 6:30 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
Owners of an ice cream shop in South Carolina soon learn that getting a Confederate flag removed, even in the wake of the Charleston Massacre, is not an easy task when the Sons of the Confederacy are involved in “Meltdown in Dixie.” The film will be screened at the Enzian Theater on Monday, April 12 at 3:30 p.m. The film also is available to watch online.
Individual film tickets are $12, packages are $55-$200 and passes are $125-$1,500 per person.
Browse the film schedule by downloading the free Florida Film Festival app for iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. For more information, including the Florida Film Festival schedule, visit floridafilmfestival.com.
This year’s festival will screen films that are representing 37 countries and include 30 world premieres. Additional festivities include a celebrity guest appearance, virtual filmmaker forums and live music.
The annual film fete kicks off on Friday, Aug. 7 at 6 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. with “Surviving Supercon,” a documentary about the good, bad and ugly that occurs behind the scenes at Florida Supercon in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Director Steven Shea and his crew filmed the comic convention’s owners Mike Broder and Sandy Martin along with the highs, lows and shenanigans. Tickets are $25 and include the film screening and complimentary tastiness provided by Eden Bar, The New Standard, Choulala, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Ivanhoe Park Brewing Company.
Image courtesy of the Florida Film Festival
Fuel up on an unlimited brunch at the Eden Bar! The meal includes one complimentary mimosa or Bloody Mary and bottomless coffee. À la carte items are also available to purchase. No movie ticket is necessary. Brunch is served on Sunday, Aug. 9 and Sunday, Aug. 16 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for $18.99 per person.
Watching and reviewing movies under the stars is celebrity guest and drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs’ specialty. His two-hour discussion will include 200 clips and stills of grindhouse films and mainstream movies along with demonstrating how rednecks have saved Hollywood on Friday, Aug. 14, beginning at 8:15 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. A question-and-answer session with Briggs will follow the presentation. The event is on standby. To attend this event, a standby line will form at the Enzian Theater prior to the screening. Once all badge and ticket holders have been seated, then the theater will sell any remaining $35 tickets.
Find your jam while experiencing music mania during the 14-day film festival!
Legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday’s colleagues and friends dish the dirt and provide viewers with a glimpse into the songstress’ career and troubled life. The “Billie” documentary is available to watch in person or online, but is limited to 100 virtual viewings.
“After So Many Days” explores life on the road for newlyweds and singer-songwriters Jim Hanft and Samantha Yonack who perform 365 shows in 365 days.
Rock out during “Creem: America’s only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine.” Creem magazine was the epitome of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll and gets down and dirty on its history and featured hitmakers.
Who knew former POTUS 39 received assistance from musicians during his presidential campaign! “Jimmy Carter: Rock ‘n’ Roll President” shows moviegoers the peanut farmer’s musical side and his friendship with Willie Nelson, the Allman Brothers and Bob Dylan.
Following in your parents’ footsteps may be challenging, especially if your mom and dad are chart-topping musicians. “Born Into the Gig” explores the lives and musical careers of Chris Stills (son of Stephen Stills); Skip Marley (grandson of Bob Marley); Ben and Sally Taylor (children of James Taylor and Carly Simon); and Kori Withers (daughter of Bill Withers). The documentary is available to watch in-person only.
Punk-rock band DUH are befriended by a down-on-his-luck guy named “Uncle Peckerhead” and embark on a tour in his 15-passenger van. One problem – if he doesn’t take his medicine before midnight, then he turns into a cannibalistic monster.
A bullied teenage girl gets her enemies back with a little help from an a cappella group in “The Devil’s Harmony” short.
Ecologists and wildlife photographers capture the rare ghost orchid and its pollinators in all of its beauty in “Chasing Ghosts.”
Entomologists Charlie and Lois O’Brien have collected more than 1 million insects from nearly 70 countries during the past 60 years. It’s the largest private collection in the world and worth $10 million. Learn about the science soulmates and their incredible insects in “The Love Bugs” documentary short.
Under-served youth and Wilderness Works participants experience the great outdoors in Colorado and life-changing outcomes in “That’s Wild.”
A teenage hockey player plans to try out for figure skating, but gets trapped on the “Island Queen” ferry in this laugh-out-loud short, starring Rachel Dratch and Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
“Island Queen” stars (l-r) Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Rachel Dratch.
Gen-X eighth graders deal with their absentee parents, recent suicides, UFO sightings and each other outside of a small-town nightclub in 1984 in the narrative feature “18 to Party.”
Toy inventor Eddy Goldfarb is best known for creating Yakity Yak Teeth, Battling Tops, Vac-u-form, KerPlunk and Stompers. Learn more about the man and his innovative inventions in the documentary short “Eddy’s World.”
A reclusive Englishwoman and writer opens her heart and home to a London Blitz evacuee during World War II in the spotlight film “Summerland.”
The stop-motion, sci-fi and claymation animated short “Destination: Unknown” focuses on an astronaut who is fighting for survival while repairing his damaged ship and getting through a malfunctioning virtual-reality chamber overflowing with spooks.
Charles Dickens’ classic tale “The Personal History of David Copperfield” is a journey about an impoverished orphan who becomes a successful author. The film stars Dev Patel, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Peter Capaldi, Ben Whishaw and Gwendoline Christie.
Storm-chaser newbies travel in a stolen ice cream truck to experience extreme weather firsthand in 1993. The small group includes a young woman seeking a compassionate community for her younger brother Carl who is on the autism spectrum in the narrative feature “Drought.”
A man loses an hour after falling asleep behind the wheel and tries to solve the mystery after experiencing what appears to be someone else’s life in the short “The Hour After Westerly,” starring Peter Jacobson.
Awkward teen Wyrm can’t wait to experience his first kiss and remove his red-light blinking collar. The narrative feature “WYRM” sheds some light on being different in this coming-of-age story.
A concert cellist is followed home by a mysterious woman who mimics his every move in the short “Nimic,” starring Matt Dillon.
A suicidal priest living in a lonely desert town participates in a series of unusual and comedic events that lead him to an unexpected discovery in “The Priest” short, starring Patton Oswalt.
Chimpanzee Icarus is on a mission to transcend the limits of land speed in the animated short “400 MPH.”
Say farewell to the Florida Film Festival while celebrating the 40-year anniversary of “The Elephant Man,” a film about a severely deformed man in 19th century London. The film is directed by David Lynch and stars John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Michael Elphick, Hannah Gordon and Freddie James.
Individual film tickets are $12, packages are $55-$200, in-person film passes are $125-$1,500 and virtual passes are $40.
COVID-19 precautions and requirements include wearing face masks and checking temperatures when guests enter the theater.
Browse the film schedule by downloading the free Florida Film Festival app for iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. For more information, including the Florida Film Festival schedule, visit floridafilmfestival.com.
ICEBAR Orlando is renowned as the largest, permanent ice bar in the world with more than 70 tons of hand-carved ice. The bar’s original owners Patz and Ron Turner decided to be bold with the cold when they opened the ice bar along the International Drive corridor 12 years ago.
ICEBAR Orlando is located along the I-Drive corridor. Photo by Sandra Carr.
A lot has changed since I first visited ICEBAR Orlando during a media event before its grand-opening celebration in October 2008.
Some of the changes include renaming the Chill Lounge to the Fire Lounge.
The Fire Lounge’s bar looks the same. However, the bar area is more open and spacious with comfy couches for lounging and chatting and small brushed-aluminum-looking tables instead of white square-shaped high-tops. The bar also has a relaxed ambiance with counters and bar stools and small high-top table areas that are against the wall instead of situated on the main floor.
The Fire Lounge at ICEBAR Orlando. Photo by Sandra Carr.
A DJ spins the beats while clubgoers hang out and chat at the Fire Lounge. Photo by Sandra Carr.
The 1,375-square-foot, air-locked ice bar has new sculptures and a longer bar, which is a plus. The venue has also updated its thermal coats. The original thermal coats were gray hooded parkas with the bar’s logo. I’m happy to report that you can now wear faux fur coats for an additional $10 with gloves during your Arctic expedition!
I’m wearing a faux leopard thermal coat and gloves while posing with a cute penguin on a polar bear ice chair sculpture at ICEBAR Orlando. Image courtesy of Sandra Carr.
A bundled-up bartender is ready to serve you at ICEBAR Orlando. Photo by Sandra Carr.
A yeti guards an ice sculpture at ICEBAR Orlando. Photo by Sandra Carr.
I enjoyed the ice bar’s 20-degree temperature, which provided necessary relief from the nearly 90-degree weather outside!
Feel the chill at ICEBAR Orlando. Photo by Sandra Carr.
The ice bar serves four signature shotskis and four icy shots in ice glasses. I sampled the Polar Berry Freeze shot during my excursion. The fruity concoction quenched my thirst and included Stoli crushed strawberry vodka, strawberry lemonade and Sierra Mist.
Two Polar Berry Freeze shots are served in ice glasses at ICEBAR Orlando. Photo by Sandra Carr.
Thomas Kerr became ICEBAR Orlando’s new owner in May 2019 and is responsible for the cool changes, including Fire Lounge’s expansive munchies menu and innovative cocktails.
I had an opportunity to sample delicious dishes and drinks served by attentive servers during a media tasting event last Thursday night. The first course was a Fig and Goat Cheese Flatbread paired with a Toasted Coconut Martini. I was in heaven while chowing down on this sweet and savory snack that can feed two people. The yummy flatbread included a sweet fig preserve, light goat cheese and prosciutto and was topped with fresh arugula and balsamic fig glaze.
The Fig and Goat Cheese Flatbread at ICEBAR Orlando is flavorful and filling. Photo by Sandra Carr.
The martini included Ciroc coconut vodka, Bailey Irish Cream, frangelico, which has a hazelnut flavor, dark creme de cocoa, coconut cream and a toasted coconut rim with chocolate syrup, which was a tasty touch!
I also sipped the refreshing, Zesty Spritzer, which is the perfect drink during a hot, humid day in Orlando. The cocktail’s ingredients include Tanqueray Sevilla orange-flavored gin and sugar and topped with champagne and an orange twist.
The Zesty Spritzer and Toasted Coconut Martini are served at ICEBAR Orlando. Photo by Sandra Carr.
The next dish was a soft taco trio, which included a Shrimp, Banh Mi and Chimichurri Steak Tacos. I felt like I was in the fairy tale “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” while tasting these three tacos. The Shrimp Taco included a good-size serving of blackened shrimp topped with marinated cabbages, tropical salsa and a chili lime sauce, which gave the taco a kick. The Banh Mi Taco’s flour tortilla was stuffed with Vietnamese marinated chicken, tangy pickled vegetables, cilantro and a drizzle of homemade, spicy mayonnaise. The Chimichurri Steak Taco featured chimichurri-seasoned steak with marinated cabbage, cilantro cream and a green, Argentinian chimichurri sauce. I have a mild palate, so the Shrimp and Banh Mi Tacos definitely woke up my taste buds! The Chimichurri Steak Taco was mellow in comparison and more my speed.
Test your senses with the Shrimp, Banh Mi and Chimichurri Steak Tacos at ICEBAR Orlando. Photo by Sandra Carr.
China meets Philadelphia with ICEBAR Orlando’s Philly Rolls. The fusion cuisine modernizes the Philly Cheesesteak by replacing the hoagie roll with a baked and crispy wonton wrapper packed with shredded ribeye steak, onions, peppers and provolone cheese. Creamy Sriracha sauce is available on the side. I preferred to eat my Philly Rolls without the sauce, but clubgoers have options!
Dunk Philly Rolls in creamy Sriracha sauce at ICEBAR Orlando. Photo by Sandra Carr.
This creative appetizer was tasty and paired nicely with my Melon Fizz cocktail, which included Bacardi coconut, melon liqueur, pineapple juice and a cherry. The green concoction tasted like a tropical drink with dry ice coming out from the top of the highball glass, which was an amazing effect.
The Melon Fizz is a delicious, tropical cocktail and science experiment rolled into one. Photo by Sandra Carr.
The culinary journey continued with hearty Meatball Sliders, which include large, sliced Italian meatballs topped with marinara sauce and melted provolone cheese on a hamburger bun.
The Meatball Sliders are a tasty and filling appetizer. Photo by Sandra Carr.
Another flatbread featured on ICEBAR Orlando’s menu is the BBQ Chicken Flatbread. I love barbecue and this flavorful flatbread didn’t disappoint. The ingredients include sweet and tangy barbecue chicken mixed with Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, sweet red onions and jalapeño ranch dressing. The jalapeño ranch dressing definitely stuck out, but didn’t offend my taste buds. The BBQ Chicken Flatbread pairs nicely with the Patrón Pineapple Margarita or Ice Queen cocktail.
The Patrón Pineapple Margarita was fruity, but had a strong, Patrón tequila flavor. I’m not a big tequila drinker, but agave aficionados will find this margarita delightful. The drink features Patrón tequila, triple sec, pineapple and lime juices and is garnished with fresh orange and lime wedges and a sugar or salt rim.
The Ice Queen takes charge with Bombay gin, passion fruit puree, sour mix and soda water and a rock candy skewer, which was a sweet sidekick.
Pick your poison! Drink a Patrón Pineapple Margarita or Ice Queen cocktail with the BBQ Chicken Flatbread at ICEBAR Orlando. Photo by Carrie Parish.
The final act was the Caprese Flatbread. The captivating cuisine includes tri-color sweet grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil and balsamic reduction sauce.
Bon appétit! The Caprese Flatbread was light and lovely at ICEBAR Orlando. Image courtesy of Sandra Carr.
The new cocktail menu featured two additional drinks that are not included visually in my blog. The Bourbon Street sounds like a modern Old Fashioned, which includes Bulleit bourbon, sugar, fresh lemon, a splash of sour and Merlot wine float topped with a black cherry garnish.
The Pear Moscow Mule includes Grey Goose La Poire Vodka, lime and ginger beer. Both of these cocktails sound like girly versions of manly concoctions that I’m sure are worth a shot!
If you have never visited an ice bar in a foreign country, then here’s your chance to take the plunge at ICEBAR Orlando. The ice bar and Fire Lounge are open Sunday through Wednesday from 5 p.m.-midnight; Thursday from 5 p.m.-1 a.m.; and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Ages eight and older can experience ICEBAR Orlando from 5-9 p.m. and 21 or older take over after 9 p.m.
I felt like I was experiencing an arts extravaganza in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago or another big city in the United States or across the pond this past weekend. I’m happy to report that the phenomenon was in O-town.
Tropical Storm Nestor was kind to Central Florida and didn’t put a damper on Creative City Project’s eighth annual IMMERSE in downtown Orlando. Attendees experienced interactive-art displays and watched state-of-the-art, performing-arts productions during the two-day event.
IMMERSE, which featured more than 1,000 artists from 140 arts groups this year, is organized by Creative City Project’s Founder and Executive Director Cole NeSmith. He wanted to introduce folks to music, dance, design and visual art that his friends were creating and decided to organize an event in a public space in downtown Orlando in October 2012.
IMMERSE has evolved and become an international arts showcase.
“We’re committed to making IMMERSE a destination event for people from around the world and an event that makes Orlando residents proud,” says NeSmith. “Year after year, we have the opportunity to partner with Central Florida arts organizations to create unique performances. We love collaborating with artists to create innovative arts experiences audiences can’t have anywhere else in the world.”
IMMERSE featured aerialists and dancers telling stories through their movement and cultural outfits.
Additional performers included Orlando Ballet, Opera Orlando and local musicians.
REVolutions Dance paid homage to women during its performance.
Orlando Aerial Arts amazed the crowd in front of Orlando City Hall during IMMERSE.
Huellas de Colombia Folkdances performed cultural dances during IMMERSE.
Dan and I enjoyed watching performing-arts groups on various stages throughout downtown Orlando, but we were enthralled with acrobatic dance troupe DIAVOLO, which was like watching architecture in motion.
The LA dancers wowed audiences during the 12th season of “America’s Got Talent” and earned a spot in the top 10.
The dance company made its IMMERSE debut by performing “Trajectoire,” a visceral and emotional journey on a 3,000-pound boat constructed of wood, aluminum and steel.
DIAVOLO takes the audience on a voyage during its “Trajectoire” performance.
The dancers struggle to find their balance on a voyage of destiny and destination while performing acrobatic moves on a moving vessel and show the transcendence of the human soul against all odds.
DIAVOLO is architecture in motion during its “Trajectoire” performance.
Another highlight was the Blue Man Group whose concerts are overflowing with percussive synergy. The magnetized crowd was digging the cobalt-blue trio’s colorful vibe as they created artwork with paint balls, painted a spectator after they had him put on a white jumpsuit and sprayed the audience with white confetti.
The Blue Man Group plays percussive instruments. Image courtesy of the Blue Man Group.
The Blue Man Group prepares for the colorful, paint ball challenge.
An audience member becomes a work of art during the Blue Man Group’s performance.
IMMERSE attendees had a chance to create a floral crown during the festivities.
IMMERSE attendees adorned their hair with floral crowns.
Participants interacted with hundreds of stringed light bulbs during the OUC Lights exhibit.
I’m striking a pose with the OUC Lights during IMMERSE!
Guests had a chance to meet someone new during Table Talk.
Attendees had an opportunity to chat up other IMMERSE participants during Table Talk.
The Cigna Foundation sponsored the Feeding Children Everywhere’s “Everyone Matters” interactive sculpture. Attendees had an opportunity to stand on 1 of 12 pedestals. Once all pedestals were activated, the sculpture illuminated with dancing light.
The “Everyone Matters” interactive sculpture reminds us that together we can do more than any of us could ever do on our own.
Hawkers Asian Street Fare created a tasty, immersive experience with its “Senses of Asia.” The walk-through exhibit provided guests with a chance to smell, hear, see and touch. Dan and I smelled ginger, herbs and spices and heard food being cooked in hot oil and the clanging of a metal spatula as it flipped food on a wok. Attendees had a chance to purchase the restaurant’s Asian delicacies next to the display.
Attendees drew art and wrote sayings in chalk on the outside of Hawkers Asian Street Fare’s “Senses of Asia” exhibit.
Dan is immersed in the “Senses of Asia” exhibit.
The “Senses of Asia” exhibit had a photo-op area, which resembled an Asian market at night.
Attendees had a chance to touch and smell Asian vegetables and fruit.
The Orlando Science Center’s volcanic eruption was a hot hit during IMMERSE! The science museum promoted its “Pompeii the Immortal City” exhibit, which runs from June 6-Sept. 7, 2020. Orlando is one of four cities selected to display this historic exhibit.
Visitors will experience the destruction of Pompeii and identify the inhabitants of that time, immobilized by ashes after Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D.
The Orlando Science Center promoted its “Pompeii the Immortal City” exhibit during IMMERSE.
Guests were striking a pose on various decorative sets that featured lighting, projection and special effects in eight shipping containers during “The Worlds of Corkcicle” at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts’ Seneff Arts Plaza.
“The Worlds of Corkcicle” provided guests with a chance to take a photo at Instagram-worthy spots.
Mother Nature wasn’t kind to Architects of Air’s luminaria and immersive sculpture “DODECALIS,” which is adjacent to “The Worlds of Corkcicle.” The late-night rain storm on Friday evening caused the interactive exhibit to be closed on Saturday.
The Architects of Air’s “DODECALIS” features six domes that resemble connected bounce houses.
A volunteer let me know that I could return to experience “DODECALIS” next week. I stopped by on Sunday and felt like a kid again.
The luminarium has five domes that resemble connected bounce houses. The light shines through the domes’ panels. When you look up at the ceiling, you can see different colored shapes, which add to the zen-like ambiance.
The blue dome in Architects of Air’s “DODECALIS.” Image courtesy of Architects of Air.
The red dome in Architects of Air’s “DODECALIS.”
A flower-shaped design in the Architects of Air’s “DODECALIS.”
Participants relax in the Architects of Air’s “DODECALIS.”
The top of the “Tree” in Architects of Air’s “DODECALIS.”
Guests who have their VIP wristbands from Saturday night can experience the huge, illuminating inflatables and “The Worlds of Corkcicle” at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts’ Seneff Arts Plaza through Saturday, Oct. 26. Visit creativecityproject.com for times. Tickets cost $17 if you don’t have a VIP wristband.
Dan and I were blown away by IMMERSE! I’m a native Orlandoan, so I can truly say that Orlando has come a long way.
Add IMMERSE to your bucket list and make it happen next October because you will be inspired and touched by the enormous amount of artistic talent in the City Beautiful.
The Desolation Center documentary took audiences back to the early days of the LA punk-rock scene during its screening at the Florida Film Festival. The film was directed by the Desolation Center’s founder Stuart Swezey who provided moviegoers with a chance to see punk-rock band performances in the desert more than 30 years ago on the big screen.
Swezey’s innovative concert experiences are also considered the precursor to Coachella and the Burning Man music festivals.
The Coachella music festival is held at the Empire Polo Club, a 78-acre polo club in Indio, California in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, California. Image courtesy of Coachella.
The Burning Man festival is an annual, nine-day gathering in the desert that includes artistic performances, installations and live music. Image courtesy of Burning Man.
The Desolation Center screened during the 28th Annual Florida Film Festival. Image courtesy of the Desolation Center.
Being a punk rocker in Los Angeles during the 1980s wasn’t easy. The City of Angels’ law enforcement weren’t fond of teens and young adults who had a mohawk haircut, colored locks, wore black attire and listened to anti-authoritarian and politically-charged punk-rock music.
Members of the punk-rock subculture were looked upon as outsiders or troublemakers, but in reality they were misunderstood artists, creatives, dreamers, musicians, writers and decision makers of the future.
Punk rockers hung out on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, California during the 1980s. Photo by Kevin Panet of the Melrose Avenue in the 80’s Facebook page.
Punk rockers ruled Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, California during the 1980s. Photo by James Baker of the Melrose Avenue in the 80’s Facebook page.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) appeared at punk-rock concerts when there wasn’t a disturbance. The police activity also caused tension between law enforcement and the punk-rock community. Many concertgoers felt that the police instigated fights with the punk-rock scene, so they could make arrests.
LAPD officers stand outside of the Hollywood Palladium waiting for The Ramones and Black Flag concert to end on Nov. 17, 1984. Photo by Gary Leonard.
Folks living in LA at the time consider this era as LAPD Chief Daryl Gates’ reign of terror. Many of the punks felt he was a tyrannical puppet master holding the strings and causing unnecessary chaos.
Daryl Gates was the Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department from 1978 to 1992.
Swezey was a punk-rock music enthusiast who was fed up with LAPD harassing fans at concerts. He wanted to make a difference and give fans and musicians a safe haven for concerts. He came up with the name Desolation Center for his venture, which displayed his feelings of despair in the punk scene. He scouted out remote locations for out-of-town shows. With the help of Bruce Licher of Savage Republic, Swezey organized his first concert at Soggy Dry Lake, a lake bed near the Joshua Tree in the Mojave Desert. The concert was called the Mojave Exodus, which included performances by the Savage Republic and Minutemen on Saturday, April 24, 1983.
The Desolation Center’s first concert, Mojave Exodus, occurred on April 24, 1983 in the Mojave Desert. Image courtesy of the Desolation Center.
LA punks embarked on a mysterious and adventurous journey as buses transported them to the Mojave Desert.
Music fans traveled on school buses and experienced a punk-rock field trip to a concert in the Mojave Desert. Image courtesy of the Desolation Center.
Besides the concert being situated in a secluded utopia, there were hiccups during the first Desolation Center concert. The bands needed to block out the sand and wind, so the best solution was placing socks on the microphones and parking the buses behind the them to create a windbreak. The buses came to the rescue again when the generator powering the public-address (PA) system started to run out of gas.
The Desolation Center provided punk rockers with an opportunity to experience concerts in the Mojave Desert’s scenic and serene ambiance. Photo by Scot Allen.
The Savage Republic performed during the Desolation Center’s Mojave Exodus concert in the Mojave Desert. Photo by Dan Voznick.
The Minutemen performed during the first Desolation Center concert in the Mojave Desert. Photo by Bob Durkee.
Swezey took his second desert DIY experience up a notch in the Mojave Desert near Mecca, California. The Desolation Center’s Mojave Auszüg concert, which occurred on Sunday, March 4, 1984, featured avant-garde, experimental German band Einstürzende Neubauten, noise artist Boyd Rice and the machine performance-art collective Survival Research Laboratories.
The explosive concert featured Einstürzende Neubauten banging rocks on metallic surfaces and oil drums and Survival Research Laboratories attempting to blow up a canyon cave along with having its Mad Max-looking mobiles drive around in the desert.
The Psi Com band’s lead vocalist Perry Farrell (later the frontman for the alternative-rock band Jane’s Addiction) and drummer Aaron Sherer attended Mojave Auszüg on Sunday, March 4, 1984. Photo by Mariska Leyssius.
Einstürzende Neubauten became one with the desert during the band’s Mojave Auszüg performance. Image courtesy of the Desolation Center.
Noise artist Boyd Rice was one of the opening acts during Mojave Auszüg. Image courtesy of Mute Records.
Mark Pauline (pictured on the left) and his Survival Research Laboratories crew create machine art that shoots flames and blows up things that get in the way. Image courtesy of Survival Research Laboratories.
Three months later, the third Desolation Center concert, Joy at Sea, left the barren desert for a vessel voyage in the San Pedro, California harbor. Fans experienced a concert on the water before concert cruises were popular! The show, which occurred on Friday, June 15, 1984, featured the Minute Men, Meat Puppets, Points of Friction and Lawndale.
The Desolation Center’s third concert was Joy at Sea. Image courtesy of the Desolation Center.
Sailing with punk-rock music fans during Joy at Sea. Photo by Ann Summa.
Pictured from l-r: Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets and D. Boon of the Minutemen at Joy at Sea. Photo by Ann Summa.
The Desolation Center’s final Mojave Desert gig, the Gila Monster Jamboree, featured the Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets, Redd Kross and Psi Com on Saturday, Jan. 5, 1985. During this show, fans drove themselves instead of relying on buses to transport them to the concert, but stopped at checkpoints along the way.
The Gila Monster Jamboree was the final Desolation Center concert. Image courtesy of the Desolation Center.
Sonic Youth goes ballistic during its desert performance, Redd Kross dresses down and rocks out and punk-rock fans have an opportunity to see Perry Farrell perform with his Psi Com band before it disbands and becomes Jane’s Addiction. Farrell organized Lollapalooza as a touring music festival, but after a six-year run, it’s now based at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois.
Lollapalooza is a music festival conceived and created by Jane’s Addiction lead vocalist Perry Farrell. Image courtesy of Lollapalooza.
Sonic Youth’s bassist Kim Gordon performs in the desert. Image courtesy of the Desolation Center.
Sonic Youth have a rockin’ time in the desert during the Gila Monster Jamboree. Image courtesy of the Desolation Center.
The film from start to finish flows well and tells the wonderful story of the four Desolation Center concerts with classic footage and interviews by Swezey, band members and concert attendees.
The desert punk-rock concert concept was ahead of its time. It took a lot of guts and determination for Swezey to make his dream a reality.
Swezey participated in a question-and-answer session after the film screening. I had an opportunity to ask him if he would change anything and which band he wished had performed during one of his Desolation Center concerts.
Desolation Center’s founder Stuart Swezey directed the documentary about his desert-destination concerts. Image courtesy of the Desolation Center.
“I wouldn’t have had attendees drive themselves to the Gila Monster Jamboree concert because I felt like it changed the vibe and slightly detracted from the overall atmosphere,” said Swezey.
As far as the bands go, “I would have enjoyed seeing and booking the Butthole Surfers because the group’s performance would have been incredible with fire in a desert setting,” he said.
The Butthole Surfers are on Swezey’s Desolation Center band bucket list. Image courtesy of the Butthole Surfers.
Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming DVD releases, featuring footage and extras from the Desolation Center concerts in the future.
Music fans will love the Desolation Center documentary because it’s punk-rock history melded with timeless tunes that make you want to go back and experience the music by land and sea.
Watching The Blair Witch Project on the big screen 20 years ago was an eye-opening experience. I believe film making changed and took an in-your-face and more authentic storytelling approach after the film hit theaters. Plus, the film popularized the found-footage technique, which was successfully used by thriller films like Paranormal Activity, Cloverfield and the Chronicle.
Writers and co-directors Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez were inspired to make The Blair Witch Project after discovering that documentaries about paranormal phenomena were much scarier than traditional horror films.
The result was a film about three student filmmakers (Heather Donahue, Michael Williams and Joshua Leonard) taking a jaunt in the Black Hills of Maryland to shoot a documentary about Elly Kedward who was banished from the Township of Blair for witchcraft in the late 1700s. One year later, their footage is found, revealing the eerie events leading up to their mysterious disappearance.
The Florida Film Festival at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Florida celebrated The Blair Witch Project’s 20-year anniversary with a 35mm print-film screening and question-and-answer session with Haxan Films’ filmmakers Eduardo Sanchez, Robin Cowie, Dan Myrick, Ben Rock and Michael Monello and actors Michael Williams and Joshua Leonard on Sunday, April 14. Actress Heather Donahue wasn’t able to attend the film screening.
I’m posing in front of the Enzian Theater’s marquee before The Blair Witch Project’s 20-year anniversary screening during the Florida Film Festival.
The Blair Witch Project’s filmmakers and actors are pictured in front of the marquee from l-r: Eduardo Sanchez, Robin Cowie, Dan Myrick, Ben Rock, Joshua Leonard, Michael Monello and Michael Williams
Full Sail University’s Course Director Carol Nowlin and the Enzian Theater’s Program Director Matthew Curtis introduce the filmmakers and actors of The Blair Witch Project before the film’s 20-year anniversary screening during the Florida Film Festival.
I relived the fear that I had experienced 20 years ago during the horror movie’s anniversary screening. I was still on the edge of my seat and felt the very raw and real moments of The Blair Witch Project once again.
One thing that attracted me and others to the film was how relatable the characters were on camera. Plus, you truly felt their anxiety, anguish, frustration and sleeplessness during their terrifying ordeal in the woods. After seeing the film again, my feelings haven’t changed. I also think that folks who are watching the film for the first time will also appreciate the film and characters in the same way.
A figure made out of brush, leaves and sticks is hanging in a tree during The Blair Witch Project.
Actors Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams are in the woods during The Blair Witch Project.
A nest filled with rocks in a tree creeps out the three student filmmakers during The Blair Witch Project.
Actress Heather Donahue is experiencing a happy moment during The Blair Witch Project.
Actor Michael Williams stands in a corner of an abandoned house in the woods during The Blair Witch Project.
The Blair Witch Project premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 1999 and had a north American release on July 14, 1999 before expanding to a wider release beginning on July 30, 1999.
The low-budget, sleeper hit cost $60,000, but reaped an amazing award after it made nearly $250 million worldwide at the box office for the UCF filmmakers.
The Blair Witch Project also opened a lot of doors for the filmmakers and actors and put Orlando and UCF’s film school on the map.
The filmmakers and actors discussed The Blair Witch Project during a question-and-answer session with UCF Center for Emerging Media’s Studio Director Rich Grula after the film screening.
Pictured from l-r: Rich Grula, Eduardo Sanchez, Michael Monello, Ben Rock, Robin Cowie, Dan Myrick, Michael Williams and Joshua Leonard
The Enzian Theater was pivotal for The Blair Witch Project. The test screenings were conducted at the theater before the film was submitted to the Sundance Film Festival.
The filmmakers are forever grateful for the Enzian Theater’s support. The Florida Film Festival’s home base was an instrumental component for the film’s success.
The discussion provided fans with some interesting tidbits. One thing I learned is that the twine that was used for the stick figures cost $8 a roll. The Haxan Films’ team have not let production designer Ben Rock live it down to this day!
Rock’s inspiration came from the Rune Man pictured in the Magical Alphabets: The Secrets and Significance of Ancient Scripts – Including Runes, Greek, Ogham, Hebrew and Alchemical Alphabets book by Nigel Pennick. Rock and Fahad Vania worked tirelessly to create the stick figures featured in the movie.
The Haxan Films’ team still gives Ben Rock a hard time about the $8 twine that was used to create the stick figures during The Blair Witch Project.
Producer Robin Cowie shared a hilarious story about him getting distracted by a bikini-clad teen walking her dog, which caused him to hit the Senior Vice President of Blockbuster Video’s brick mailbox with his car in Atlanta, Georgia. It turns out; the girl was the executive’s daughter. Cowie pitched him The Blair Witch Project and he decided to invest in the film. The backer also predicted that the film would be a hit.
Co-producer Michael Monello discussed the movie’s marketing. He said the marketing campaign that was associated with the film was accidental and happened organically. The website, which included footage, was designed to engage and provide viewers with an opportunity to ask questions before the film was released, but turned out to be a wonderful way to promote the film before it hit theaters.
I had an opportunity to ask a question during The Blair Witch Project’s panel discussion. I wondered if the filmmakers or actors would change anything in the film 20 years later as well as what was their favorite part in the film.
Rich Grula and the audience get up close and personal with The Blair Witch Project’s filmmakers and actors during a question-and-answer session.
Williams jokingly said he would change his contract. Seriously, he said he wouldn’t change a blessed thing. He also felt there was no way that the actors and filmmakers would be able to create the film today on nonunion terms and is happy for the relationships that everyone has established over the years because of The Blair Witch Project.
Williams is currently writing a book about his Blair Witch Project experiences. Plus, a book titled Eight Days in the Woods, which was written by a fan of the film, discusses all-things Blair Witch and will be publishing soon.
Support filmmakers from around the world by embarking on a movie-watching journey with 184 films representing 41 countries. Plus, moviegoers have an opportunity to pick the best flicks by voting during the festival.
The 28th Annual Florida Film Festival is April 12-21, 2019.
The film fest is an Oscar-qualifying festival that will be premiering top-quality current, independent and international cinema throughout its 10-day run.
The opening-night film and party is occurring on Friday, April 12 at the Enzian Theater and features Woman in Motion, a documentary filmed by Full Sail University students about actress Nichelle Nichols who is renowned for portraying Lieutenant Uhura, the communications officer aboard Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise. The film showcases Nichols’ undying support and how she helped lead the way for women and minorities who dreamed of having a space exploration career. Attendees will have three opportunities to watch the movie screening that night at the Enzian Theater and Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater.
The fete continues during a Festival Block Party on Saturday, April 13 from 3-5 p.m. at the Winter Park Village’s fountain across from the Regal Cinema. The festivities include free drinks and appetizers from select Winter Park Village restaurants and live entertainment. The free event is for Florida Film Festival ticket and pass holders only. Space is limited.
Festival Block Party
Relive your fear during the 20-year anniversary of The Blair Witch Project on Sunday, April 14 at 8 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. Three student filmmakers (Heather Donahue, Michael Williams and Joshua Leonard) take a jaunt in the Black Hills of Maryland to shoot a documentary about Elly Kedward who was banished from the Township of Blair for witchcraft in the late 1700s. One year later, their footage is found, revealing the eerie events leading up to their mysterious disappearance. The sold-out film will include a post-film reunion and question-and-answer session with the cast and crew. A backstage pass is available for $60 and will include a limited-edition, screen-printed poster created specifically for the event by Lure Design, a meet and greet and photo opportunity. Patrons must supply their own camera for the photo opportunity.
Spend Good Friday (April 19) with Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss at the Enzian Theater. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1978 for The Goodbye Girl, which film festival attendees will have a chance to see on the big screen at 7:30 p.m. A question-and-answer session with Dreyfuss will follow the film. Tickets are $60. Producer-pass holders will have an opportunity to meet the actor following the event.
See why actor Richard Dreyfuss won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1978 for The Goodbye Girl on Friday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Quench your thirst during the free Sip and Savor: Cocktail Tastings on Monday, April 15 and Tuesday, April 16 from 6-8 p.m. at Eden Bar. Sample flavorful concoctions provided by Diageo on Monday night and Tito’s Handmade Vodka on Tuesday evening.
To be or not to be, that is the question after William Shakespeare decides to retire after his Globe Theatre burns to the ground in 1613 in All is True. He returns to Stratford-upon-Avon, England to mend the broken relationship with his wife and daughters after the disaster. The film stars Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen.
The world lost the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin on Aug. 16, 2018, but her music and legacy will live on forever. The documentary Amazing Grace keeps her spirit alive as she performs gospel songs at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California in 1972.
The documentary Marching Forward examines how music overpowered division in Orlando, Florida when Jones High School’s all-black marching band and Edgewater High School’s all-white marching band performed during the World’s Fair in New York City in 1964. This UCF Burnett Honors College production features interviews with band directors and former students, many of whom are now professional musicians.
Marching Forward photo is by Lisa Mills.
Did the devil make you do it? The Satanic Temple advocates for religious freedom and challenges authority in the Hail Satan? documentary.
Award-winning actress Elisabeth Moss portrays a burned- and strung-out rock star trying to find her way back to stardom in this riveting, rock ‘n’ roll drama, Her Smell. The cast includes Eric Stoltz, Amber Heard and Virginia Madsen.
Sudan, 45, is the last male northern white rhinoceros in the world. The Kifaru documentary follows the lives of two young Kenyan recruits who join Ol Pejeta Conservancy’s rhino caretaker unit in Kenya, which features a small group of rangers who protect and care for Sudan.
Punk rockers took their angst away from Los Angeles, California to the Mojave Desert during the 1980s. This movement started the Desolation Center, which featured DIY music showcases in remote locations that included performances by the Sonic Youth, Minutemen, Redd Kross, the Meat Puppets, Einstürzende Neubauten and the Swans. Talent will be in attendance during both Desolation Center screenings.
The music adventure continues with Our Most Brilliant Friends, a documentary about the British indie-pop duo Slow Club. The film explores the ups and downs of being in a band and the not-so-luxurious life and challenges with touring.
Experience Italian-style boogieing during the 1980s in the Dons of Disco. Italian model Stefano Zandri a.k.a. musician Den Harrow, is one of Italy’s biggest stars. Years later, the truth came out that he lip synced his way to the hearts of fans after American singer Thomas Barbey revealed that he’s the voice of Den Harrow.
Bang your head! Watch the Maori Metal documentary about three native New Zealand brothers who are proud of their Maori culture and enjoy rocking out in their metal band Alien Weaponry.
Princess of the Row is the inspiring and moving story about Alicia Willis who travels to Los Angeles, California to find her homeless, military-veteran dad Sergeant Beaumont “Bo” Willis.
Computer startup General Magic was ahead of its time with concepts for smartphones and the other technological devices and ways that we communicate today. Learn about this company’s innovative ideas and pitfalls in the General Magic documentary.
Weddings can be stressful for the bride, groom and everyone involved in the big day. People have a say with social media at gatherings and life-changing events nowadays. Can a social media poll determine a bride and groom’s fate? Should they still take the plunge and say “I do?” Find out in the humorous Made Public short.
Wear plaid attire or a kilt while watching the Chef’s Diaries: Scotland. Foodies can travel with the three Roca brothers who are chefs at their El Celler de Can Roca restaurant, which was named the world’s best restaurant in 2013 and 2015.
Table football, better known as foosball, was the rage during the 1970s. Two players at a table spin little men on rods, trying to slam a ball into a goal. A small, but mighty group is keeping the game alive with tournaments for foosball fanatics. The Foosballers documentary explores the sports history, trick shots and foosball champions.
The Interpreters is a film that illustrates the challenges and risks that Iraqi and Afghan translators face after they have joined forces with the United States.
Roll Red Roll explores how a high school football team in Steubenville, Ohio tried to ignore a sexual assault in order to protect the team’s star players.
Three filmmakers are on a mission to save one of the last Blockbuster Video stores in this documentary. The Saving Blockbuster documentary was the 2018 Brouhaha Grand Jury Award winner.
John Waters’ films come to life in the Spider Mites of Jesus: The DirtwomanDocumentary. The film’s star is Donnie Corker who contracted spinal meningitis—which his mother pronounced as Spider Mites of Jesus—as an infant. He later became a cross-dresser and drag queen and was the heart of Richmond, Virginia before he passed away two years ago.
Doomsday prepper and retiree Ed Hemsler (John Lithgow) has a connection with Ronnie Meisner (Blythe Danner). These two eccentrics form a bond and are happy together despite their emotional baggage, which comes to a head and spews out before them.
Marine life evolves and causes the rules of survival to change in Hybrids.
The Florida Film Festival says farewell to its 28th year by celebrating Easter and the 40-year anniversary of Monty Python’s Life of Brian on Sunday, April 21 at 8:30 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. The comedic film is set in 33 A.D. in Judea where Romans are trying to bring order to the country, but experience some pitfalls after would-be messiah Brian Cohen develops a following.
Individual film tickets are $12, packages are $55-$200 and passes are $125-$1,500 per person.
Browse the film schedule by downloading the free Florida Film Festival app for iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. For more information, including the Florida Film Festival schedule, visit floridafilmfestival.com.
Craft breweries are popping up everywhere in Central Florida nowadays, but Toll Road Brewing Company is making its mark in downtown Ocoee. The cozy brewery opened back in June and is quenching thirsts with its signature brews.
Toll Road Brewing Company serves its signature craft beers. Photo by: Matt Geleske
Brewery founders and owners David Strickland, Duane Morin and Russ Balazs had been planning to open the brewery for the past three years.
Morin was impressed with the small breweries that he visited during a trip to San Diego along with the successful business models, which put the brewery plan into action when he returned to Ocoee.
Morin and Strickland had been brewing beer for the past 15 years. The time was right for taking the next step and fulfilling their brewery dream.
The brewery has been a labor of love. The owners did the building demolition and refurbishment themselves, but had technicians do the electrical, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and plumbing.
Toll Road Brewing Company’s founders and owners during the brewery’s grand-opening celebration: l-r Russ Balazs, Duane and Melissa Morin and Donna and David Strickand Photo by: Sandra Carr
The brewery’s name and location were a perfect match since it seems like you have to drive on a toll road to get anywhere in Orlando. Plus, State Roads 408 and 429 and Florida’s Turnpike all converge in Ocoee.
Toll Road Brewing Company’s tasty craft beer keeps the customers coming back for more.
“We serve sours and a lot of typical American style beers,” said Strickland. “We brew what we like to drink. Our plan is to have 8-10 beers rotating regularly and a few guest taps, a cider and glasses of wine.”
Toll Road Brewing Company’s beer is brewed on the premises. Photo by: Sandra Carr
During my Toll Road Brewing Company visit, I ordered The Crowdpleaser. The refreshing and delicious Kölsch beer and the name said it all! I can see why this beer is a favorite with the brewery’s customers! Kölsch beer originated in Cologne, Germany and is fermented with ale yeast and then conditioned at cold temperatures like a lager. I’m a wheat beer fan, but this brew has become one of my top faves!
I also enjoyed sampling the brewery’s robust porter The Sheriff. My palate isn’t a fan of dark beers, but this brew didn’t leave an aftertaste in my mouth and was very rich and smooth. I finally found a porter beer that I can drink! Porter beer fans will rate this brew high on their list, that’s for sure!
My husband Dan drank the Irish Red called Shamrocks & Shenanigans. I thought this brew’s name was catchy and perfect for Irish beer aficionados. He loves malty beers and this brew passed the test! The porter is also Strickland’s favorite Toll Road Brewing Company beer. He says, “the beer is a little bit different from most porters you’ll get around town and has more substance.”
Image courtesy of the Toll Road Brewing Company.
The comfy taproom has wood tables with high top chairs and stools for those who want to belly up and hang out at the bar. The walls are gray with decorative tile accents with neutral tones and the main seating area features faux red, white and blue painted panels. Plus, there are purse hooks and USB ports for charging your phone, which are nice touches. If you want to get some fresh air, then you can hang out on the outdoor patio. The brewery is also dog and kid-friendly and provides pooches with treats.
Toll Road Brewing Company Photo by: Sandra Carr
You can tell a lot of thought went into planning this neighborhood brewery in west Orange County. The owners went the extra mile to ensure the taproom had a homey ambiance.
“We wanted a comfortable taproom that was a low key place to hang out and have a few beers,” said Strickland.
His wife Donna Strickland added, “craft beer camaraderie is experienced at Toll Road Brewing Company. We want our customers to hang out, enjoy a good beer and experience Ocoee. We aimed at having the brewery to be a comfortable place where people feel like they’re at home.”
Customers can take a piece of Toll Road Brewing Company with them by purchasing one of the brewery’s T-shirts. Tasty Trivia, which has “Friends,” “Star Wars” and ’80s themes, is every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. and happy hour features $1 off beers on Thursday evenings from 5-7 p.m.