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‘The Blair Witch Project’ Turns 20 By Sandra Carr

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

The Blair Witch Project Brush Figure

A figure made out of brush, leaves and sticks is hanging in a tree during The Blair Witch Project.

Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams

Actors Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams are in the woods during The Blair Witch Project.

Rocks

A nest filled with rocks in a tree creeps out the three student filmmakers during The Blair Witch Project.

Heather Donahue

Actress Heather Donahue is experiencing a happy moment during The Blair Witch Project.

The Blair Witch Project Ending

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.

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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.

Stick Figure

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Celebrate Cinema at Florida Film Festival By Sandra Carr

Do you fancy film festing? The 28th Annual Florida Film Festival has your back and is your movie mania solution!

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.

This year’s Florida Film Festival features 87 women directors with amazing girl power and 25 world premieres. Additional festivities include celebrity guest appearances, forums and parties at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Florida and Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater in Winter Park, Florida from April 12-21, 2019.

Florida Film Festival 2019

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.

Oscars

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.

Woman in Motion

Woman in Motion begins at 7:15 p.m. and the party follows at 8:30 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. The film frolic will include cuisine, craft cocktail and beer samples and cake provided by Eden Bar, MidiCi, Nothing Bundt Cakes, the Outpost Neighborhood KitchenRoque Pub, Terrapin Beer Co. and other local bars and restaurants. The film and party admission is $125 and the party only ticket cost $100.

Opening Night Party

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.

Florida Film Festival Block Party

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.

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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.

The Goodbye Girl

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.

Sip and Savor Cocktail Tasting

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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

Her Smell

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.

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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.

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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.

Our Most Brilliant Friends

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.

Dons of Disco

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.

Maori Metal

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.

Princess of the Row

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.

General Magic

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.

Made Public

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.

Chef's Diaries Scotland

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.

Foosballers

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.

The Interpreters 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.

Roll Red Roll

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.

Blockbuster Video

John Waters’ films come to life in the Spider Mites of Jesus: The Dirtwoman Documentary. 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.

Spider Mites of Jesus The Dirtwoman Documentary

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.

The Tomorrow Man

Marine life evolves and causes the rules of survival to change in Hybrids.

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.

Monty Python's Life of Brian

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.

 

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Actress Pam Grier Chats Candidly about her Career at Florida Film Festival By Sandra Carr

During her 50-year career, actress Pam Grier has portrayed powerful women and is the queen of 1970s blaxploitation films, including Coffy, Foxy Brown and Sheba, Baby.

Foxy Brown

Grier discussed her film career during a question-and-answer session with Rollins College history professor Julian Chambliss and fans after the Jackie Brown screening during the Florida Film Festival at the Enzian Theater.

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She portrayed the title character in the crime thriller Jackie Brown, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, which he wrote for Grier and is a love letter to her career. The film is about a sexy flight attendant who orchestrates a scheme to keep smuggled cash from an arms dealer. The movie pays homage to blaxploitation films and is an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch.

Jackie Brown Movie Poster

When Grier first met Tarantino, she noticed his office walls were decorated with five framed posters of her films.

“These were original posters that are worth thousands of dollars,” she said. “It was humbling and made my heart race knowing that someone really liked my work. It was that moment of reality for someone who is an artist.”

Grier informed the audience that if you don’t rehearse, then you don’t get to work with Tarantino. She said she was always ready, knew her lines and credited her theater background for preparing her for the role. Grier also said she cooked meals for the cast and crew who sang and danced to tunes since Tarantino played music on the set.

Pam Grier and Quentin Tarantino

I had an opportunity to ask Grier about her chemistry with the film’s cast. She provided a hilarious assumption about Brown and Ordell Robbie’s past.

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“Quentin, why would this man (Robbie who was portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson) walk into my apartment and turn out my lights? Did we have sex before? He feels like he can walk into my apartment and turn off the lights. Does he pay the power bill? Did we have a relationship before? I think we tried it one night and it didn’t work. We were awkward. I felt that. We became friends after that and we didn’t talk about him not being able to get it up. Maybe my nipples didn’t get hard. I don’t know! You all have been there before! I thought it was going to be hot, but it wasn’t. If we’re going to have sex, then don’t put a ring on your gotee! That’s going to hurt and cause blisters!”

Jackie Brown and Ordell Robbie

Grier also came up with the line “Booya! With a cherry on top!” during the scene where Brown leaves a shopping bag filled with cash underneath a fitting room door for Melanie Ralston (Bridget Fonda) to pick up.

In the action film Above the Law, she portrayed Chicago Police Department narcotics detective Nico Toscani’s (Steven Seagal) friend and partner Delores ‘Jacks’ Jackson. Grier was diagnosed with cervical cancer the same year the film was released and is in remission.

Above the Law

She enjoyed filming Bad Grandmas with actress Florence Henderson. She said Henderson was very funny and didn’t act like she was in her 80s. The movie was Henderson’s last before she passed away in Nov. 2016.

Bad Grandmas

Grier also portrayed Lily in Rose, a film about a woman who finds love while soul searching throughout the southwest during her final days. The movie also stars Cybill Shepherd and James Brolin.

Rose

Besides films, Grier has appeared on TV sitcoms, including Miami Vice as Valerie Gordon, a New York Police Department detective who had an on-again, off-again relationship with Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas) and The L Word as Kit Porter.

Miami Vice

The L Word2

She shared some funny anecdotes during her Q&A, including hanging out with John Lennon and Harry Nilsson during a Smothers Brothers concert at the Troubadour in Hollywood, Calif back in March of 1974. Lennon started singing a song and asked Grier if she knew it. The song was I Can’t Stand the Rain by Ann Peebles. Grier sang the song and Lennon hit the table like he was playing the drums. Lennon got everyone to sing while harmonizing and becoming intoxicated.

When the Smothers Brothers came on stage, Lennon thought they were boring and wanted to continue singing the song with Grier. The Troubadour’s manager asked him to be quiet. That didn’t last very long. He started singing again and the manager attempted to remove him by grabbing his collar and pulling him over the table. A fight broke out between Lennon, Nilsson and the manager. The group, including Grier, were tossed out of the club and sat on the curve while providing the Los Angeles Police Department with their accounts of the incident. Afterwards, Lennon sent Grier flowers and thanked her for not hitting him.

John Lennon Note

John Lennon’s apology letter to Pam Grier.

Grier was raped by two boys when she was 6 years old and again as a teenager. She said the incidences have affected her during her acting career. She recalled having a flashback of being raped when her and Thomas were filming a romantic scene for Miami Vice. She needed an hour to compose herself along with talking to Thomas about interacting with her differently during the scene.

She discussed her relationships with comedian Richard Pryor, actor Freddie Prinze and retired NFL basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and why they didn’t work out.

“These stars were reaching their pinnacle and becoming very powerful,” she said. “I was the target of possibly being their mate, wife and mother of their children. It was blocking my trajectory of being an independent woman. I didn’t want to thrive in their spotlight and lose my identity.  I loved them dearly, but I chose myself more and it was my time. I disbanded the relationships because I really wanted to be on my own.”

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Pam Grier and Richard Pryor

Pam Grier and Freddie Prinze

Pam Grier and Freddie Prinze

Pam Grier and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Pam Grier and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Grier talked about Pryor and shared a humorous and almost tragic moment that occurred with the stand-up comic’s miniature horse.

“Richard’s dogs attacked his miniature horse Ginger, which was a gift from Burt Sugarman and the name is based on the Mudbone folklore (Mudbone was a recurring character in Richard Pryor’s stand-up comedy act),” she said. “I put the miniature horse in the back of my four-door Jaguar and we took it to the vet. We’re rolling down the 405 with the miniature horse’s head hanging out the window and Richard is in his bathrobe crying about what happened. We saved the miniature horse’s life and got it home. Richard then found out that I loved horses and thought he could lure me with horses. I knew if the miniature horse had died, then he would have fallen off of the wagon. Richard’s wife Jennifer Lee said in his Showtime documentary that I was the one person who had a positive effect on his life. I realized that he would fall and I didn’t want him to take me down with him. I’m a great nurse and caregiver, but you have to meet me half way. I can only carry you so far before my back breaks.”

Pam Grier and Richard Pryor3

Pam Grier and Richard Pryor

Her grandfather Daddy Ray was the first feminist in her life and taught her how to hunt, fish and shoot guns. She brought those experiences with her while portraying different characters throughout her acting career.

Grier also said young people introduce her to their dads and uncles. The men ask her if she shoots all of the guns in her movies. Grier lets them know that she has a gun collection, including hunting rifles from her grandfather, a gun that Steven Seagal gave her after filming Above the Law and another gun from Miami Vice.

She’s comical in her response to the men’s inquiries about her firearms.

“Their eyes get big and I tell them not to worry about my guns,” she said. “You just need to worry about my Sears Craftsman chainsaw! If I smell cologne or see lipstick when you come in, then you’re in trouble!”

Coffy

Pam Grier portrays Coffy.

She published her memoir Foxy: My Life in Three Acts eight years ago. Grier said a biopic is in the works for her story to appear on the big screen. Actor and former Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Pharoah has been selected to portray Pryor in the film so far.

Pam Grier's Book

Grier provided film students with advice and emphasized to the audience that we’re all brands.

“I started creating a brand by showing different types of women and not just the sexy and pretty ones,” she said. “I don’t want to fall behind the comfort. I want to be the antagonist and crazy person. There are so many roles that I want to do. I want to play my age, but a lot of it isn’t seen. Film festivals and schools are inspiring all of these new narratives and stories. The inspiration is during the film festivals across the country because they keep developing and sustaining the brands of the actors, producers and directors.”

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Learn more about Grier’s career on imdb.com.

 

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Moviegoers Embark on a Story-Gazing Journey during the Florida Film Festival By Sandra Carr

Films tell tales about personal triumph, deception, challenges, heroes and hilarity. This year’s Florida Film Festival, now in its 27th year, doesn’t disappoint and invites moviegoers to go story gazing while watching 183 films representing 38 countries.

The juried flick fete also features 152 films with premiere status, including 23 world premieres along with celebrity guest appearances, forums and parties at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla. and Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater in Winter Park, Fla. from April 6-15, 2018.

FFF Story Gazing

The 27th Annual Florida Film Festival is April 6-15, 2018.

The Florida Film Festival is accredited as a qualifying festival for the Oscars in the live action short, documentary short and animated short film categories. The winner of the grand jury award in each of these categories will automatically qualify to enter during next year’s Academy Awards.

Oscars

The opening-night film and party is happening on Friday, April 6 at the Enzian Theater and features American Animals, a true story and dramedy about four young men who attempt to steal priceless Audubon publications and rare books from the Transylvania University’s special collections library. The movie stars Blake Jenner who portrays Chas Allen. He also portrayed Ryder Lynn in Glee and Jake in Everybody Wants Some!! Jenner will be making an appearance and discussing American Animals following the screening.

American Animals

Blake Jenner

Actor Blake Jenner will be making an appearance during the Florida Film Festival’s opening-night party.

Clink glasses and say cheers during a champagne reception at 6 p.m. American Animals begins at 7 p.m. and the party follows at 8:30 p.m. The cinematic celebration will include cuisine, cake and craft cocktail and brew samples provided by Eden BarFirefly Kitchen and Bar, Hourglass BrewingNothing Bundt Cakes, Roque PubTen10 Brewing Company and other local bars and restaurants. The film and party admission is $140 and the party only ticket cost $125.

Opening Night Party

Hang out with moviegoers during the Festival Block Party on Saturday, April 7 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.

Florida Film Festival Block Party

Festival Block Party

Indulge yourself in a film and farm-to-table feast during Locally Fresh! on Sunday, April 8 from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. The foodie function will include cooking demonstrations and scrumptious samples. Admission is $12. Afterwards, shop for fresh-from-the-field produce and products during a free Farmer’s Market from noon-2:30 p.m. on the lawn next to Eden Bar.

Locally Fresh

If you can’t wait to eat during Locally Fresh!, then enjoy a brunch buffet beforehand from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Eden Bar for $13.99 per person. The brunch will also occur during the last day of the film festival on Sunday, April 15.

Sunday Brunch Buffet

Soar into the sky and find out how a flight attendant orchestrated a scheme to keep smuggled cash from an arms dealer during the film screening of  Jackie Brown, directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Pam Grier, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster and Bridget Fonda, on Sunday, April 8 from 7-11 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. The movie is an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch. The event includes a question-and-answer session with Grier following the film screening. General admission is $50 and $125 for a backstage pass, which includes the film screening and meet and greet and photo opportunity afterwards. Please provide your own camera for the photo opportunity.

Jackie Brown Movie Poster

Take a drug-filled ride during the psychological drama Requiem for a Dream, starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans, on Friday, April 13 from 7:30-11 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. The film is based on the novel by Hubert Selby Jr. with whom director Darren Aronofsky wrote the screenplay. The event includes a question-and-answer session with Burstyn after the screening. General admission is $50. Producer-pass holders will have an opportunity to meet the actress following the event.

Requiem for a Dream

Quench your thirst during the free Sip and Savor: Cocktail Tasting on Wednesday, April 11 from 6-8 p.m. at Eden Bar. Sample flavorful concoctions provided by Diageo.

Cocktail Tasting

Tennis, anyone? Watch Björn Borg versus John McEnroe at Wimbledon during the summer of 1980 in the sports drama Borg McEnroe, starring Shia LaBeouf.

Borg McEnroe Photo

Actress Charlize Theron portrays Marlo, a stay-at-home mom who is overwhelmed with taking care of her three children in Tully. Her wealthy brother gifts Marlo with a nanny who she forms a unique bond with that will change both of their lives forever. The screenplay was written by Diablo Cody who also wrote Juno and Young Adult.

Tully

A teenage boy becomes attached to a failing racehorse named Lean on Pete. He steals the horse before the owner disposes it and ends up on an unexpected adventure. The film Lean on Pete also touches on poverty and homelessness in the U.S. Actors Steve Buscemi and Charlie Plummer star in the film.

Lean on Pete

In the mystery thriller Tatterdemalion, Army veteran Fern, who is portrayed by actress Leven Rambin, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and returns home to the Ozarks where she finds an abandoned boy named Cecil in the woods. She searches for clues about the boy’s identity while discovering local folklore of a spirit who appears as a child.

Tatterdemalion

Actor and director Romany Malco (The 40 Year Old VirginWeeds) stars in Prison Logic. He portrays Tijuana Jackson, an aspiring world-renowned motivational speaker who is being followed by a documentary film crew before he’s released from prison. The movie has Florida flavor since it was filmed in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Orlando and features Central Florida local Alkoya Brunson (AtlantaHidden Figures) who portrays Jackson’s sidekick Lil’ Eric. The ex-con’s reality-show dream has to overcome obstacles because of his court-mandated probation in the movie. Actress Regina Hall (Girls Trip, the Scary Movie franchise) portrays Jackson’s parole officer and prospective love interest and Tami Roman (Basketball Wives) rounds out the cast as Jackson’s sister Sharea.

Prison Logic

King Cohen is a documentary about legendary B-movie film producer, director and screenwriter Larry Cohen.

King Cohen3

Watch the RBG documentary about 84-year-old Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, gender equality warrior and pop-culture icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg (a.k.a. Notorious RBG).

RBG

Music makes its mark during the Florida Film Festival with documentaries about new wave musician, model and actress Grace Jones (Grace Jones: Blindlight and Bami), jam band Magic Music (40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie) and the hardcore group Agnostic Front (The Godfathers of Hardcore).

Agnostic Front’s lead vocalist Roger Miret and director Ian McFarland will be making an appearance and participating in a question-and-answer session following the The Godfathers of Hardcore screening on Saturday, April 7 at 9 p.m. at the Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater.

Grace Jones Bloodlight and Bami

The Godfathers of Hardcore Movie Poster

Magic Music

Magic Music

Rollins College alumnus Fred Rogers was the host and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and worked tirelessly for more than three decades to help children understand difficult and complex situations and learn how to deal with their feelings through the use of puppetry. Rogers believed that we were all part of a global neighborhood in which everyone should be valued for being “just the way you are.” The documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? pays homage to Rogers who was an advocate for children’s TV programming during most of his life.

Mister Rogers

Local radio personalities and powerhouse podcasters Tom Vann and Daniel Dennis of A Mediocre Time with Tom and Dan, are featured in the Mediocre Documentary with Tom and Dan. The film takes the audience behind the scenes of the duo’s live podcast at the Hard Rock Live Orlando. Vann and Dennis will be making an appearance and participating in a question-and-answer session following the screening on Sunday, April 15 at 4:45 p.m. at the Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater. The film is on standby.

Tom and Dan

A Mediocre Documentary with Tom and Dan

Eighteen films during this year’s fest feature LBGTQ themes, including The Feels, an amusing romp about a bachelorette party for a lesbian couple.

The Feels

Another movie, The Cakemaker, features a gay baker who is involved in an unusual love triangle with his deceased lover and his widow.

The Cakemaker

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood is a documentary about former pimp to the stars Scotty Bowers, 94, who organized clandestine encounters with young men for actors Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Cole Porter and Rock Hudson and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

Do I Have Boobs Now? is a documentary short about trans woman and activist Courtney Demone sharing photos of her breast development after undergoing hormone replacement therapy on social media.

Do I Have Boobs Now

TransMilitary features four U.S. transgender military members whom are married to each other and served our country. The documentary showcases their journey since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed in 2011 and during the current political climate since the 2016 presidential election.

TransMilitary

Americana artist Robert Townsend is fascinated with a lady wearing cat-eye glasses in vacation photograph slides and is on a quest to learn more about this happy, mystery woman in the film My Indiana Muse.

My Indiana Muse

Bodacious New York City burlesque dancers strut their stuff in Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story.

Getting Naked A Burlesque Story

Ask the Sexpert is a documentary about 93-year-old Dr. Mahinder Watsa, a sex columnist for the Mumbai Mirror, who responds to readers sexual questions.

Ask the Sexpert

Long Time Coming hits a home run during the Florida Film Festival. The film discusses the monumental victory of the State of Florida’s 1955 Little League Championship, featuring the all-black Pensacola Jaycees versus the Orlando Kiwanis, which was one of the first racially-integrated Little League baseball games in the South. The two team captains reunite to discuss for the first time how that historic night felt for both of them more than six decades ago.

City of Orlando’s Mayor Buddy Dyer will be joining city commissioners and the Edward E. Haddock Jr. Family Foundation to celebrate and honor the baseball teams during A Baseball & Civil Rights Reunion on Tuesday, April 10 from 10-11 a.m. at Lake Lorna Doone Park, located at 1519 W. Church St. in Orlando near the Camping World Stadium.

The documentary is directed by Jon Strong and produced by Common Pictures. The film includes Major League Baseball and civil rights icons Hank Aaron, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Andrew Young. The Florida Film Festival will host the film’s world premiere on Monday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m. with an encore screening on Tuesday, April 10 at 3:30 p.m.

Long Time Coming

Former felon turned law school grad Desmond Meade is on a mission to restore voting rights for Florida’s convicted felons who have served their time in the documentary Let My People Vote.

Let My People Vote

Soufra chronicles the culinary journey of Mariam Shaar, a Palestinian born and raised in the Burj El Barajnak refugee camp outside of Beirut, who starts her own catering and food truck business with other Syrian, Iraqi, Palestinian and Lebanese women refugees.

Soufra

Feline films include Samantha’s Amazing Acro Cats, a documentary that follows a traveling cat circus and the animated short Catherine about a girl and her cat named Kitty.

Samantha's Amazing Acro Cats

Catherine

The Florida Film Festival closes by celebrating the 75-year anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, a film about an uncle who travels from New York to California to visit his family and is wanted for murder. The psychological thriller was Hitchcock’s favorite film, and is considered one of the King of Suspense’s most chilling movies during his career.

Shadow of a Doubt

Individual film tickets are $11, packages are $50-$180 and passes are $99-$1,500 per person.

Browse the film schedule by downloading the free Florida Film Festival app for iPhones and Android mobile devices. For more information, including the Florida Film Festival schedule, visit floridafilmfestival.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Actor Billy Crudup Feels at Home with Subversive Characters By Sandra Carr

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Portraying a wide range of characters appeals to actor Billy Crudup. His films include Without LimitsAlmost Famous, Big Fish, Watchmen and Jackie. He shared amusing and interesting anecdotes during his question-and-answer session after the Jesus’ Son screening during the Florida Film Festival at the Enzian Theater.

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Crudup finds pleasure and growth as an actor portraying conflicted, complicated and unlikeable characters and said “his intention is to show one moment where you get a glimpse of their humanity.”

He played a messed up guy named FH, which is short for F**khead in Jesus’ Son, a drug-induced ride that crashes and finds stability during the 1970s.  The film was adapted from a collection of short stories by cult author Denis Johnson and features supporting cast members Jack Black, Denis Leary, Holly Hunter and Dennis Hopper.

Jesus' Son

Black’s scenes are filled with many laugh-out-loud moments, including when he was a hospital orderly helping a patient who had a hunting knife in his eye and accidentally running over a rabbit and trying to save its bunnies. Crudup said he had to close his eyes during the takes he shared with Black because he was so vividly entertained by what Black was doing as an observer that he couldn’t get through the scene. It was difficult for Crudup to look or engage with him because “what he was doing was brilliant, inventive, entertaining and charismatic.”

Jack Black

Crudup has had a wealth of acting opportunities, and I asked him if there was one character that has stayed with him.

His response was “F**khead because of his clumsy hopefulness.” He also said there was something touching in the scene where the heart tattoo comes to life and it’s sort of back lit with golden rays and finding that in any small experiences you have in your relationships despite all of the awfulness in life. To Crudup, that’s something to aspire to along with finding enough peace in your inner life where you can appreciate the constant stream of beauty and surprise around you and your experience with humanity.

Crudup also discussed portraying runner Steve Prefontaine in Without Limits. He was an athlete who was at the forefront of endorsing Nike footwear and competed in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.

Tom Cruise was one of the film’s producers. Crudup said he would occasionally get a phone call from Cruise who would cheer him up and say, “Keep at it! It’s going to be great!”

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He also portrayed the golden god Russell Hammond in one my favorite rock ‘n’ roll movies Almost Famous, written and directed by Cameron Crowe. Crudrup was thrilled to be a part of the film, but was afraid of becoming typecast.

“I didn’t want to become trapped by playing heroes or romantic leads,” he said. “Not that I didn’t want to play romantic characters, but Russell is an anomaly. He’s a bona fide rock star who has mystery.”

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Other roles include portraying the nagging and frustrated son Will Bloom who is trying to determine fact from fiction during his dying father’s life in Big Fish, directed by Tim Burton.

Big Fish.jpg

He also portrayed superhero Dr. Manhattan in the Watchmen.

Watchmen

His upcoming movies include Alien: Covenant and Justice League.

One attendee asked if he has nightmares about Sigourney Weaver and Crudup assured him that the actress was in his dreams.

He couldn’t share too much about Alien: Covenant, but said he plays a member of the crew on a colonizing mission that doesn’t go as planned. The movie hits theaters on May 19.

In Justice League, he plays Barry Allen’s (The Flash) father Henry and couldn’t tell the audience any other details about the upcoming film. The film’s release date is Nov. 17.

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Learn more about Crudup’s career on imdb.com.

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Actress Lea Thompson Shares Movie Memories at Florida Film Festival By Sandra Carr

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Actress Lea Thompson opened and shared her time capsule of film-career memories, spanning more than 30 years, during her question-and-answer session after the Back to the Future screening at the Enzian Theater.

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Thompson portrayed Marty McFly’s (Michael J. Fox) mom Lorraine Baines in the classic, blockbuster film.

Back to the Future is a blast from the past, but has a meaningful message.

“The movie has a lesson, which is one moment can change your life,” said Thompson. “I think that’s one of the secrets of time travel. It’s not just the cool time machine, but it’s the idea of looking back and seeing the past and future at the same time.”

Lea Thompson

One fan asked Thompson if there was one Back to the Future memento that she regrets not snagging from the set and she said it was the DeLorean [Laughs]. However, she did get to keep the dreamy pink prom dress that she wore during the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance scenes.

Lea Thompson Wearing Prom Dress

I had an opportunity to ask Thompson if there were any funny moments she experienced with the cast while filming Back to the Future. She said the funniest scene is when she portrays vodka-drinking Lorraine and brings out her brother Joey’s jailbird cake. Thompson said Crispin Glover (George McFly) was cracking up the cast with his quirky laugh. She said she was trying not to laugh because the problem with plastic makeup is that it’s glued on and the seams can not be put back into place once they’re broken. Thompson said the scene is hilarious and the actors kept laughing their way through it for an hour-and-a-half.

Jailbird Joey Cake

She discussed how she got the part of Kelly Ann Bukowski in Jaws 3-D  with little acting experience and not knowing how to water ski before filming scenes at SeaWorld Orlando.

Jaws 3-D

Thompson remembered how nervous Tom Cruise was during his All the Right Moves screen test. She also had to go undercover at a high school in order to prepare for her role as Lisa. She recalled getting busted for skipping class because nobody knew she was an actress. Thompson said the movie was filmed before Cruise became a massive star.

All the Right Moves

She fondly recalled moments with Patrick Swayze while filming Red Dawn. Thompson said the cast had mock-up AK-47 rifles in their hotel rooms and would run around with the guns in Las Vegas and Mexico in the middle of the night.

Thompson and Swayze were both ballet dancers. She said they would perform acts from the ballet Giselle whenever they weren’t shooting scenes or guns.

Red Dawn

The actress became teary eyed after a fan told her how SpaceCamp inspired her to become a NASA rocket scientist and that the Mars rover was one of her projects.

Space Camp

A Howard the Duck fan had Thompson sign his movie memorabilia at MegaCon. She was impressed that he had the original soundtrack on vinyl. He said if their paths crossed again and he found another soundtrack, then he would give it to her. As fate would have it, Thompson now owns the Howard the Duck soundtrack thanks to a fan named Tom.

Howard the Duck

Thompson portrayed Amanda Jones, the popular pretty girl who had a rough home life in John Hughes’ last 1980s teen movie Some Kind of Wonderful. She also met the love of her life, husband and director Howard Deutch while filming the movie.

Some Kind of Wonderful

After she had a baby, Thompson had a difficult time getting parts in movies until she landed the role of Caroline Duffy in the TV sitcom Caroline in the City. Her character was a successful cartoonist living in Manhattan whose comic strip “Caroline in the City” became a huge hit.

She said it was a great job, but filming a sitcom is hard. Thompson said there’s so much pressure because of the way the scripts are created. Plus, you’re telling jokes and you have to set up the scenes perfectly in front of a live audience.

The show also made converting old TVs into fish tanks popular during the mid-1990s.

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Learn more about Thompson’s career on imdb.com.

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Florida Film Festival Keeps it Real By Sandra Carr

The Florida Film Festival, now in its 26th year, is true to its movies, audience and mantra “Film, Food and Friends.” The flick fete provides its faithful filmgoers with a reel repertoire, including documentaries, features, shorts, special screenings, spotlights and forums at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla. and Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater in Winter Park, Fla. from April 21-30, 2017.

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The juried festival features 182 films representing 40 countries with 139 having premiere status, including 17 world premieres.

The Hero

The opening-night celebration features The Hero, a film starring legendary character actor Sam Elliott portraying a Western actor who is no longer in the limelight, but reprises his famous role in The Hero sequel after receiving unexpected news. Watch the movie on Friday, April 21 at 6 p.m. at the Enzian Theater.

Opening Night Party

Party hearty after the movie by chowing down on delectable dishes paired with cocktails during the opening-night festivities at the Enzian Theater. The film and party ticket is $140 and the party only is $125.

Take the film fete further during the Festival Block Party on Saturday, April 22 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.

Winter Park Village

Feast on Florida’s homegrown farm-to-table goodness during Locally Fresh! on Sunday, April 23 from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. The freebie features films, area produce, cooking demonstrations and scrumptious samples.

Locally Fresh

Back to the Future

Travel to the 1950s in a DeLorean time machine during the classic Sci-Fi movie Back to the Future, starring Michael J. Fox, Lea Thompson and Christopher Lloyd, on Sunday, April 23 at 7 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. The event includes a question-and-answer session with Thompson after the screening. Regular admission is sold out, but $125 meet-and-greet tickets are still available.

Lea Thompson

Actor Billy Crudup portrays a guy named FH, which is short for F**khead, who believes he can save people from fate while trying to understand the destructive passion he shares with his girlfriend Michelle in Jesus’ Son on Friday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. The film was adapted from a collection of short stories by cult author Denis Johnson and features supporting cast members Jack Black, Denis Leary, Holly Hunter and Dennis Hopper. The event includes a question-and-answer session with Crudup after the screening. General admission is $50 and meet-and-greet tickets are $125.

Jesus' Son

Laugh out loud high in the sky during the comedic spoof Airplane! on Saturday, April 29 at 1:30 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. The film takes you on a journey with a PTSD-stricken fighter pilot Ted Striker (Robert Hays), stewardess/ex-girlfriend Elaine (Julie Hagerty) and a doctor (Leslie Nielsen) who have to land a Boeing 707 after the crew experiences food poisoning. The event includes a question-and-answer session with Hays and director David Zucker. The movie and guest appearance are on standby.

Airplane!

Additional fun flicks include director Eleanor Coppola’s Paris Can Wait, starring Alec Baldwin and Diane Lane. The movie takes Anne (Lane) a woman in her 50s on a midlife journey through France.

Paris Can Wait

New Neighbors features an African-American family who move to an all-white neighborhood. The mom decides to get to know her neighbors by distributing flyers about her sons.

New Neighbors

Pop-artist Andy Warhol’s famous “Brillo Box” sculpture cost one family a grand back in the 1960s and had a return on investment of more than $3 million decades later. Learn more by seeing the Brillo Box (3 Cents Off) documentary short during 3 X Real Documentary Shorts 1.

Brillo Box

Native Americans rock in the documentary Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World. The film features legendary guitarist Link Wray and other musicians.

Link Wray

Pushing Dead is a film about an HIV-positive writer who is dropped from his insurance because he makes too much money (starring James Roday and Danny Glover).

Pushing Dead

Animated short Fabricated showcases machines assembling and coming to life as creatures.

Fabricated

Experience a hootenanny during Honky Tonk Heaven: Legend of the Broken Spoke. The documentary is about the boot-scooting Austin joint that has been serving its fill of music for more than 50 years.

Broken Spoke

Learn about Irishman Padraig O’Malley who is a renowned expert on conflict negotiation and has made an impact in Ireland, South Africa, Kosovo and Iraq during The Peacemaker.

The Peacemaker

Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis produced this funny film about a struggling actor working as a bathroom attendant at a popular LA nightclub during Night Shift.

Night Shift

Cassette tapes are making a comeback in the movie Cassette: A Documentary Mixedtape. The movie features musician and spoken word artist Henry Rollins and his cassette tape collection.

Cassette Tape

The Florida Film Festival closes with buxum babes who are fighting machines in the Russ Meyer classic film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! on Sunday, April 30 at 9:30 p.m. at the Enzian Theater.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Individual film tickets are $9 for a matinee before 5 p.m. and $11 for a regular ticket after 5 p.m., packages are $50-$180 and passes are $99-$1,500 per person. For more information, including the Florida Film Festival schedule, visit floridafilmfestival.com.

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