Tag Archives: Florida Film Festival

Punk Rockers Experience Desert Oasis at ‘Desolation Center’ By Sandra Carr

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.

Coachella

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.

Burning Man Festival

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.

Desolation Center Movie Poster

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.

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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 on Melrose Avenue

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

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.

LAPD Chief of Police Daryl Gates

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.

Mojave Exodus

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.

Buses

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.

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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.

Savage Republic

The Savage Republic performed during the Desolation Center’s Mojave Exodus concert in the Mojave Desert. Photo by Dan Voznick.

Minutemen

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.

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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.

Desolation Center

Einstürzende Neubauten became one with the desert during the band’s Mojave Auszüg performance. Image courtesy of the Desolation Center.

Boyd Rice

Noise artist Boyd Rice was one of the opening acts during Mojave Auszüg. Image courtesy of Mute Records.

Survival Research Labs Photo

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.

Joy at Sea

The Desolation Center’s third concert was Joy at Sea. Image courtesy of the Desolation Center.

Joy at Sea Banner

Sailing with punk-rock music fans during Joy at Sea. Photo by Ann Summa.

Joy at Sea Bands

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.

Gila Monster Jamboree

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

Lollapalooza is a music festival conceived and created by Jane’s Addiction lead vocalist Perry Farrell. Image courtesy of Lollapalooza.

Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth’s bassist Kim Gordon performs in the desert. Image courtesy of the Desolation Center.

Sonic Youth

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.

Stuart Swezey

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.

Butthole Surfers

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.

 

 

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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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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.”

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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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‘The Godfathers of Hardcore’ Film Embraces Agnostic Front’s Drive and Passion By Sandra Carr

Hardcore pioneers, Agnostic Front, have always been true to their music and fans. The documentary The Godfathers of Hardcore, directed by Ian McFarland and appearing at the Florida Film Festival, chronicles Agnostic Front’s history and provides fans with a raw view into the band’s career and lives on and off the road.

The Godfathers of Hardcore Movie Poster

Hardcore is a rebellious form of punk-rock music with hard, fast, in-your-face, thrash rhythms. Agnostic Front has inspired numerous bands by taking the genre to a whole new level and extreme.

The group is still experiencing the rock ‘n’ roll dream after living and playing in New York City’s dark and seedy Lower East Side nearly 40 years ago. Agnostic Front’s musical mantra hasn’t changed as they continue to question authority and society and seek the truth.

The Godfathers of Hardcore Film

Agnostic Front in concert. Image courtesy of the Florida Film Festival

The film illustrates the chemistry and brotherly bond between Agnostic Front’s founder and lead guitarist Vinnie Stigma and lead vocalist Roger Miret.

There are many heartfelt occurrences with Miret and his family and laugh-out-loud moments with Stigma throughout the movie. Stigma is the real deal and a trip! He could easily have his own stand-up comedy act! I have visited New York City in the past, but Stigma is the person who I would love to provide me with an underground tour.

The documentary also discusses the turmoil, trials and tribulations Miret and Stigma dealt with growing up and how the hardcore scene saved their lives and became their family.

The movie features classic footage and photos from the band’s heyday, including performances at CBGB, the birthplace of punk-rock music, and by other bands like Murphy’s Law.

McFarland captured Agnostic Front’s essence, heart and soul in his film especially, with shots that showcased Miret and Stigma’s personalities and honesty. Four of my favorite scenes featured Miret opening a trunk and looking at a time capsule of band memories and sitting in a chair reflecting on his life at his home in Phoenix, Ariz. along with Stigma standing on the rooftop of his apartment building with a spectacular view of New York City and having his hairstylist create his mohawk.

Miret and McFarland made an appearance and participated in a question-and-answer-session after the first film screening at the Winter Park Regal Cinema last Saturday night. The documentary touched Miret.

“I was teary-eyed and blown away while experiencing an emotional roller coaster ride when I saw the film for the first time,” said Miret. “The film is in a league of its own. I’m proud and honored and think Ian did a great job.”

I asked Miret about how the documentary will leave Agnostic Front’s musical footprint.

“The film really shows the band as human beings and not as mythical creatures,” he exclaimed. “I think that connects more with people because our whole intention from day one was being genuine and real to people. We never called them fans. We called them friends.”

Sandra and Roger Miret

Agnostic Front’s lead vocalist Roger Miret signed his book “My Riot: Agnostic Front Grit, Guts & Glory” and posed for a photo after the film screening.

I also asked McFarland if he faced any challenges while making the movie.

“I think the biggest challenge for me was telling a band and family’s story and doing it in a way where they can sit back in the theater and watch it,” he said. “It was really tough getting through a film like this for the past three years. I not only directed the film, but edited it, which is a very tough thing to do and destroys you mentally and physically. I sacrificed a lot of time away from my family and work. It was very tough to do it, but luckily I had a support system.”

Agnostic Front fan and filmmaker McFarland put his blood, sweat and tears into creating a masterpiece that’s a must-see for other fans and music enthusiasts. His film tells a story that has never been told about this legendary band and will continue to rock for years to come.

The Godfathers of Hardcore screens again on Friday, April 13 at 8 p.m. at the Winter Park Regal Cinema. Tickets are $11. Click here for more information about the film and to purchase tickets.

Help the documentary receive a mainstream release at theaters nationwide by writing an Internet Movie Database (IMDB) review.

The Godfathers of Hardcore

 

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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.

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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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