Tag Archives: Florida Film Festival

‘Badlands’ is Near and Dear to Actress Sissy Spacek’s Heart By Sandra Carr

 

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Academy Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek has had a cinematic connection with the big screen for more than 40 years. She won an Oscar for Best Actress in her portrayal of country star Loretta Lynn in the Coal Miner’s Daughter, a biographical film about the singer’s life. Spacek also has 60 acting credits, 85 nominations, 40 wins and six Oscar nominations under her belt.

Coal Miner's Daughter

The Florida Film Festival invited Spacek to be one of their celebrity guests and asked her which movie she would like to screen during the festival’s 25-year anniversary at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla. Spacek selected the 1973 classic, independent film Badlands. She received her acting career break with the film, which is based on a modern day Bonnie and Clyde and their reckless exploits, co-starring Martin Sheen and directed by Terrence Malick.

Badlands

Spacek answered Enzian Theater president Henry Maldonado’s questions during his film introduction while sitting at a table in the audience.

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Spacek shared anecdotes about making Badlands during her question-and-answer session after the movie. One of those accounts was when she had told Malick that she was a majorette in high school. He bought her a Star Line Baton at a music store on Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles and asked her to demonstrate her baton-twirling skills. He loved her baton-twirling performance and decided to incorporate her majorette skills in the scene where Kit (Sheen) and Holly (Spacek) meet for the first time. The baton-twirling routine in the movie was the same one that she used to try out for a majorette in high school.

Baton Twirling Sissy Spacek

She also told the sold-out film’s audience that her voice-over narration in the movie was recorded in a tiny bedroom with blankets nailed to the walls.

Badlands gave Spacek her first real taste for film making and she’ll always cherish creating the movie. She also met her husband and production designer Jack Fisk during the filming of the movie. They just celebrated their 43-year wedding anniversary.

Spacek received an Academy-Award nomination for her telekinetic prom-queen role in the 1976 supernatural horror film Carrie, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name.

carrie-1976-movie-poster

She’s currently portraying Sally Rayburn, the matriarch of a Florida Keys family that has dark secrets in the Netflix  dramatic thriller series Bloodline.

Bloodline

I had an opportunity to ask Spacek about what appeals to her when reviewing a script and selecting a movie role. “It’s really a director’s medium, so the director is first and foremost. It’s also the overall project and the connection and understanding of  a character.”

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

 

 

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Florida Film Festival Celebrates Silver Anniversary on the Big Screen By Sandra Carr

The Florida Film Festival continues to grow and shine on the big screen by featuring movies from around the globe during its 25-year anniversary at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla.

The first film festival in 1992 featured actors Paul Newman, Henry Winkler and David Ogden Stiers and directors Oliver Stone, Robert Wise and Joel Schumacher.

Bringing Hollywood to Maitland has continued with actor appearances by Drew Barrymore, Dennis Hopper, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, John Waters, Glenn Close, Jon Voight, Cloris Leachman, Susan Sarandon and Emma Stone over the years.

The flick fete has been listed as one of the 20 coolest film festivals by MovieMaker Magazine and one of the top 50 film festivals in the world by The Internet Movie Database (Imdb.com).

This year’s 10-day festival will feature more than 180 films from 36 countries, 59 female filmmakers and celebrity guests Sissy Spacek and Mark Duplass at the Enzian Theater and Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater in Winter Park, Fla. from April 8-17, 2016.

FFF 2016

The juried film festival will include 20 feature and 67 short films in the American Independent Competition, which are eligible for up to three awards each: Grand Jury Award for best film in that category, a Special Jury Award given at the jury’s discretion for exceptional achievements, and an Audience Award determined by audience votes for Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Best Short Film and Best Midnight Short. International films are also eligible for Audience Awards for Best International Feature and Best International Short.

The opening-night movie is Lobster, a foreign film about bachelors having 45 days to find a mate or be transformed into the animal of their choice. The movie, starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, premieres at the Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater on Friday, April 8 at 7 p.m.

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After the movie, celebrate during the opening-night party from 8 p.m.-2 a.m. at the Enzian Theater. Participating restaurants include K Restaurant, ShishCo Mezze & Grill, Mediterranean Blue, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress and other local eateries. The opening-night film and party is $110, film only is $25 and party only is $95.

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Actor Mark Duplass takes us on a journey while transporting a purple armchair that he bought off of eBay for his dad in The Puffy Chair on Sunday, April 10 at 7 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. A question-and-answer session will follow. The movie and guest appearance are on standby.

Puffy_Chair_-_New_720_405_80

The 1973 film Badlands (starring Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen) features a modern day Bonnie and Clyde and their reckless exploits on Friday, April 15 from 7:30-11 p.m. at the Enzian Theater. Academy Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek will be participating in a question-and-answer discussion after the movie screening. The movie and guest appearance are on standby.

Badlands

Other fun flicks include Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, a documentary about three kids who filmed scenes of the Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1982 but didn’t finish one scene until 30 years later.

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Actor Jessie Eisenberg stars in Louder Than Bombs, a film about topics and issues families can’t discuss.

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Hunky Dory, is a poignant, touching drama about bisexual, aging glam-rocker Sydney who struggles to take care of his his 11-year-old son Georgie while continuing to pursue his dreams.

Hunky Dory

The Babushkas of Chernobyl features women who return to their poisoned homes after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Babushkas

Got game? Apparently, Tim McVey thought so when he achieved a billion-point score playing the video game Nibbler in Ottumwa, Iowa back in 1984. McVey’s record remained untouched for nearly 25 years. McVey learned in 2008 that an Italian teenager claimed to have the highest Nibbler score a few months after his record. In the documentary Man vs. Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler, McVey decides to beat the record and regain his legacy.

Nibbler

Joseph Newman thought his electromagnet-motor invention was the solution for eliminating the need for oil, coal and nuclear power. His invention was making progress until the U.S. Patent Office caused a delay. The documentary Newman discusses how the inventor thought his electromagnet-motor was going to save the planet.

Newman

An aspiring singer is a nobody one minute and a YouTube star the next in the film Presenting Princess Shaw. 

Princess Shaw

Syl Johnson: Any Way the Wind Blows explores the life, challenges, lawsuits and rediscovery of this 1960s Chicago R&B musician.

Syl Johnson

In the documentary Pickle, a couple adopts a deformed fish and takes care of other pets and critters at their homestead.

Pickle

Drag queens step up their game in Queer Habits. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are a group of drag-queen nuns committed to community service, promoting joy and ridding the world of guilt.

Queer Habits

The Florida Film Festival closes on Sunday, April 17 at 9:30 p.m. with the classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The movie is celebrating its 50-year anniversary this year and remains on the “Best Films of All Time” list. The film is one of two movies to be nominated in every Oscar category and received five Oscars, including Elizabeth Taylor being honored with the Academy Award for Best Actress and Sandy Dennis with the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

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

 

 

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Actor Bob Balaban Discusses Acting Career at Florida Film Festival By Sandra Carr

Director Robert Altman’s Academy Award-winning film Gosford Park is a period piece about the rich and their servants during a British weekend retreat and party in 1932. Character actor Bob Balaban produced and portrayed an American vegetarian filmmaker Morris Weissman in the movie. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won one Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

My husband Dan and I attended an evening with Bob Balaban, featuring Gosford Park during the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival.

My husband Dan and I attended an evening with Bob Balaban, featuring Gosford Park during the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival.

Gosford Park

Gosford Park

The film was screened during the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival before a question-and-answer session with Balaban. Altman and Balaban came up with the idea for the film and brought it to life with an ensemble cast, including Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren (head servant Mrs. Wilson) and Maggie Smith who portrayed the wealthy Constance Trentham and is now Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham on Downton Abbey.

An Evening with Bob Balaban Photo by: Sandra Carr

An Evening with Bob Balaban
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Balaban had been reading Agatha Christie murder mysteries and came up with an idea for a movie, which became Gosford Park. He thought Altman would be the perfect director for the movie. Plus, Altman had a vast body of work but had never directed a period film during his career. Balaban said he knew it would be interesting because of Altman’s “lack of interest in formal structure.” Altman agreed to direct the film but he wanted “to do a murder mystery about poor people in England because he really didn’t like rich people.” He felt “everyone should be equal and didn’t like a division between rich and poor and the powerful and non-powerful.”

An Evening with Bob Balaban, Featuring Gosford Park. Photo by: Sandra Carr

An Evening with Bob Balaban, Featuring Gosford Park.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Balaban and Altman hired Julian Fellowes to write the script. In six weeks time, he returned to Balaban and Altman with the first 70 pages of the screenplay, which won him an Academy Award.

Last minute changes also added to the movie’s story and ending. Altman decided to have Jeremy Northam portray Welsh composer and actor Ivor Novello. Northam learned how to play the piano and sang in the film. Altman also decided to change the ending by revealing that Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Croft (head servant) were sisters.

Besides acting, directing and producing Gosford Park, Balaban has a movie theater and film-making heritage. His mom Elenore acted under the surname Barry and his dad Elmer Balaban owned movie theaters in Chicago and throughout the Midwest, and developed an early version of pay-TV. His uncle Barney Balaban was also the chairman of Paramount Pictures.

Bob Balaban participates in a Q&A during the Florida Film Festival. Photo by: Sandra Carr

Bob Balaban participates in a Q&A during the Florida Film Festival.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

He was Linus in the off-Broadway production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown but his first movie role was portraying a young student in MIdnight Cowboy.

Bob Balaban and Jon Voight in a scene in Midnight Cowboy.

Bob Balaban and Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy.

At age 69, he has portrayed more than 100 characters, including the interpreter David Laughlin in Steven Spielberg’s science-fiction film Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Bob Balaban and François Truffaut in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Bob Balaban and François Truffaut in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

He has been in Christopher Guest movies, including Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration.

Bob Balaban as Jonathan Steinbloom in A Mighty Wind.

Bob Balaban as Jonathan Steinbloom in A Mighty Wind.

The actor is also renowned as the character Russell Dalrymple, the President of NBC who was obsessed with Elaine on Seinfeld.

Bob Balaban portraying Russell Dalrymple, the President of NBC on Seinfeld.

Bob Balaban portraying Russell Dalrymple, the President of NBC on Seinfeld.

He has also had the opportunity to appear in Woody Allen’s Deconstructing Harry and Fading Gigolo.

Woody Allen and Bob Balaban in Deconstructing Harry.

Woody Allen and Bob Balaban in Deconstructing Harry.

Balaban was the narrator in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and the Ritz Imperial concierge in The Grand Budapest Hotel. I had an opportunity to ask Balaban about what it was like working with this writer, director and producer and why his quirky, signature style was so unique.

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom.

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.

“I have been lucky during my lengthy film career,” he said. “I have worked with some amazing people and stumbled upon some wonderful directors. I have always loved Wes’ movies. I was thrilled when he asked me to be in Moonrise Kingdom. I loved the script, my part and working with Wes. He’s a brilliant and unique director. There’s a real ballet going on with Wes’ shots and the actions in them. It’s so formal but his films are life filled to me. He has a love of children and respects the dignity of all sorts of people in is movies. He thrives in chaos but his movie making is very organized with a vision that he’s able to get on the screen.”

Learn more about Bob Balaban’s career on imdb.com.

Sandra Carr and Bob Balaban at the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival. Photo by: Dan Carr

Sandra Carr and Bob Balaban at the 24th Annual Florida Film Festival.
Photo by: Dan Carr

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Films and Food Fuel Annual Fest By Sandra Carr

Central Florida’s nonprofit, alternative and independent cinema, the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla., displays a picturesque, old-Florida ambiance surrounded by shady, weeping oak trees draped with Spanish moss. Besides its Southern charm, the theater becomes the epicenter of movie mania during its annual Florida Film Festival. This year, the festival is celebrating its 24-year anniversary at the Enzian Theater and Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater in Winter Park, Fla. from April 10-19, 2015.

The flick fete has been listed as one of the 20 coolest film festivals by MovieMaker Magazine and one of the top 50 film festivals in the world by The Internet Movie Database (Imdb.com). Past celebrity guests have included Oliver Stone, Drew Barrymore, Dennis Hopper, Steve Buscemi, Christopher Walken, John Waters, Glenn Close, Jon Voight, Susan Sarandon and Emma Stone.

I'm interviewing actor Dennis Hopper for WCPX Channel 6 during the Florida Film Festival in June 1994. Photo by: Jim Leatherman

A blast from the past! I’m interviewing actor Dennis Hopper for WCPX Channel 6 during the Florida Film Festival in June 1994.
Photo by: Jim Leatherman

This year’s film festival features more than 170 movies, including animated shorts, documentaries, spotlights, narrative features and shorts and special screenings.

24th Annual Florida Film Festival

24th Annual Florida Film Festival

The opening-night film is Welcome to Me, a movie featuring funny lady Kristen Wiig portraying a woman with a borderline personality disorder that wins $86 million in the lottery and decides to buy her own talk show. The movie premieres at the Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater on Friday, April 10 at 7 p.m.

Welcome to Me Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Welcome to Me
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

After the movie, indulge in a foodie feast during the opening-night party at the Enzian Theater. Participating bars and restaurants include BRIO Tuscan Grille, K Restaurant, Swine & Sons, Soco and Rogue Pub.

Opening-night film and party is $110, film only is $25 and party only is $95. The opening-night film is on standby.

The opening-night party features a foodie feast.

The opening-night party features food, glorious food! Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Learn about local, farm-fresh eats during the FFF at the Enzian Theater on Saturday, April 11 from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The homegrown event will feature Lake Meadow Natural Farms, Palmetto Creek Farms, Olde Hearth Bread Co. and the East End Market. Sampling and cooking demonstrations are included in the $12 admission.

Local farms are keeping it fresh.  Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Local farms are keeping it fresh.
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Take farm to table further with the free Locally Fresh! Farmers Market on Eden Bar’s lawn on Saturday, April 11 from noon-2:30 p.m. Folks can purchase produce from area farmers and vendors.

Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Celebrity appearances include actor Bob Balaban during a screening of Gosford Park on Sunday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. The actor is renowned as the character Russell Dalrymple, the President of NBC who was obsessed with Elaine on Seinfeld. Tickets are $25.

"Gosford Park"  Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Gosford Park
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Actor Sam Rockwell takes us to the Moon during his question-and-answer session on Friday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. The movie and guest appearance are on standby.

Actor Sam Rockwell portrays Sam Bell in "Moon."  Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Actor Sam Rockwell portrays Sam Bell in Moon.
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Other fabulous flicks include Homeless, a movie directed by Florida State University graduate Clay Hassler, about a teenage boy, portrayed by newcomer Michael McDowell, who lives in a shelter and is trying to get his life back on track after his grandmother passes away.

Homeless Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Homeless
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Embark on an adventure while looking for the person behind a popular Chinese delicacy in The Search for General Tso.

The Search of General Tso's Chicken Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

The Search for General Tso
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Pump yourself up with this documentary about bodybuilder, actor and rocker Jon Mikl Thor during his comeback in I Am Thor.

I Am Thor Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

I Am Thor
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Watch 500 Days of Summer, a romantic comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel about a dysfunctional relationship that’s a sure failure for free on the Enzian Theater’s lawn on Monday, April 13 at 8 p.m.

500 Days of Summer Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

500 Days of Summer
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

3 1/2 Minutes explores the shooting and death of Jordan Davis at a gas station in Jacksonville, Fla. and the State of Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense laws.

3 1/2 Minutes Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

3 1/2 Minutes
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Freebie alert! Watch the dark Donnie Darko on Wednesday, April 15 at 8 p.m. and the sweet Amelie on Thursday, April 16 at 8 p.m. on the Enzian Theater’s lawn.

Donnie Darko Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Donnie Darko
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Amelie Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Amelie
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Music makes it mark during the FFF this year. Experience the D.C. punk-rock scene and mosh pits in Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, D.C. (1980-90). Honky-tonk and country musician Billy Mize created the Bakersfield sound and chose family over music during the peak of his career. Learn more about this legendary musician in Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound.

Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, D.C. (1980-90). Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, D.C. (1980-90)
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Get your movie on by watching comedies, dramas, panel discussions, parties and more during this year’s Florida Film Festival. Individual film tickets are $9 for a matinee before 5 p.m. and $11 for a regular ticket after 5 p.m. and passes and packages are $99-$1,500 per person. For more information, including the Florida Film Festival schedule, visit http://www.floridafilmfestival.com.

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Legendary Actor Paul Sorvino Discusses Acting Career and Art at Florida Film Festival By Sandra Carr

Director Martin Scorsese’s classic film “Goodfellas,” about New York City mobster Henry Hill and fellow gangsters stealing, selling drugs and whacking people off, is one of Italian-American actor Paul Sorvino’s most memorable roles in his portrayal of mob patriarch Paul Cicero.

Goodfellas

“Goodfellas”

Moviegoers watched “Goodfellas” during the 23rd Annual Florida Film Festival at the Enzian Theater before a question-and-answer session with Sorvino.

“I wanted to play in a Scorsese film more than I wanted to breathe my next breath,” said Sorvino.

Scorsese wanted Sorvino for the role of Paul Cicero but Sorvino had a hard time connecting with the character at first.

He wore a black cashmere coat and his father’s pinky ring and tried to look like a gangster during his reading with Scorsese, who he won over for the part.

After he was selected for the role, he still tried to find the character and his inner sense to portray the mobster at the time. Adjusting his tie in the hallway mirror, he jumped back and frightened himself because he saw Paul Cicero.

“I knew exactly what to do for the part and it was one of the easiest roles to play,” he said.

Photo by Sandra Carr

Photo by Sandra Carr

Sorvino also portrayed former mobster Joe Scoleri, who serves time in prison and returns home in the movie “Last I Heard,” which was one of the narrative feature films during this year’s Florida Film Festival. Sorvino received praise from fan Anthony Castelluci, who led the audience in saying “Hell yeah” during the question-and-answer session that followed “Goodfellas” on Saturday, April 12.

Last I Heard Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

“Last I Heard”
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

At age 75, he has played more than 160 roles during his career and has never done the same character twice. He studied with famous acting teacher Sanford Meisner and made his film debut in “Where’s Poppa?” in 1970. Meisner taught him the ropes.

“I learned that you think before and after when you’re playing a role,” he said. “My first acting teacher, Sanford Meisner, said a thinking actor is a stinking actor. The more intelligent you are, then the more difficult it is to be a really good actor because your intelligence gets in the way. You have to make sure your intelligence stays out and doesn’t take over.”

Paul Sorvino during his Q&A at the 23rd Annual Florida Film Festival.                                                  Photo by Sandra Carr

Paul Sorvino during his Q&A at the 23rd Annual Florida Film Festival.
Photo by Sandra Carr

One of his best performances was his portrayal of deaf attorney Lowell Myers in the film “Dummy.”

“I created five different phases of deaf speech for my character,” he said. “It was a challenge and my favorite role to play.”

Dummy

“Dummy”

Paul Sorvino portrays deaf attorney Lowell Myers in Dummy.

Paul Sorvino portrays deaf attorney Lowell Myers in “Dummy.”

He also portrayed the Italian leader of the communist party Louis Fraina in “Reds,” and based the role on his grandfather.

Reds

“Reds”

Besides acting, Sorvino is an opera singer, bronze sculptor and painter. He created two lion sculptures for above designer Gianni Versace’s door in South Beach and a bronze sculpture of his granddaughter, Mattea Angel, releasing a dove for the Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s heart wing.

I had an opportunity to ask Sorvino about his attraction to authoritative roles during the question-and-answer session.

“Those roles always come towards me,” he said. “I have always been a wise ass and somebody that knew more than he was supposed to know. When I was a kid, I would say that I knew enough just to piss everyone off! Whatever the role may be, I give it all I got!”

My husband Dan and I attended An Afternoon with Paul Sorvino, featuring Goodfellas during the 23rd Annual Florida Film Festival.

My husband Dan and I attended An Afternoon with Paul Sorvino, Featuring “Goodfellas” during the 23rd Annual Florida Film Festival.

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Giancarlo Esposito Discusses Notorious TV Villain Character and Career at Florida Film Festival By Sandra Carr

From a man behind the badge to bad guys, actor and director Giancarlo Esposito has played them all for more than 45 years. His acting career began on Broadway when he was 8 years old and he hasn’t looked back.

Esposito’s first film was Taps but his breakout role was his portrayal of Buggin’ Out in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. The movie brought racial barriers in Brooklyn, N.Y. to the forefront on the big screen. His Buggin’ Out character is all about the black man and doesn’t understand why Sal’s Famous Pizzeria doesn’t have African-American pictures hanging next to famous Italian celebs on the restaurant’s walls. He decides to boycott the restaurant with two of his friends and causes chaotic upheaval.

Do the Right Thing Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Do the Right Thing
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

 

This prolific movie is celebrating its 25-year anniversary and was watched by a sold-out crowd during the 23rd Annual Florida Film Festival, followed by a question-and-answer session with Esposito.

An evening with Giancarlo Esposito. Photo by: Sandra Carr

An evening with Giancarlo Esposito during the 23rd Annual Florida Film Festival.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Esposito said, “it has been 25 years since Do the Right Thing was made and I feel so honored to be talking about it. I learned a lot from Spike Lee. He really opened a lot of doors for so many black, white and Asian artists and showed us self expression.”

Do the Right Thing is celebrating its 25-year anniversary.

Do the Right Thing is celebrating its 25-year anniversary.

He shared that Do the Right Thing was filmed on a block in Brooklyn that was completely a mess and burned out with crack houses. The block was transformed into a Hollywood set and the cast were really into it but knew that the area was very violent and recalled hearing gun fire when they filmed at night.

Esposito provided the audience with his insights about film and acting. “There was magic happening and a number of us moved to Brooklyn because we were committed. If you’re in it, then you can’t really judge because you’re serving up and honoring the word and other actors. It doesn’t matter if it’s a flop. You have done your best to make it a great experience for all involved and yourself.”

Giancarlo participates in a question-and-answer session during the 23rd Annual Florida Film Festival. Photo by: Sandra Carr

Giancarlo Esposito participates in a question-and-answer session during the 23rd Annual Florida Film Festival.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

He shared some humorous moments with Lee, including how he caught the diehard New York Mets fan wearing New York Yankees gear at a Yankee game. He said Lee got tired of the Mets losing and switched to the Yankees because they’re winners.

Spike Lee wearing New York Yankees gear.

Spike Lee wearing New York Yankees gear.

Esposito’s iconic role was portraying evil meth lord Gustavo “Gus” Fring on Breaking Bad. He said the meth lab was real and cost a half-million dollars. He revealed that “Gus was a very complicated guy that cultivated and cared about people. He had the laundry, chicken places and the meth stuff going on and was outstanding and respected and supported humanity.”

Giancarlo Esposito portrayed Gus Fring on AMC's Breaking Bad. Photo credit: Photo by Ursula Coyote/AMC

Giancarlo Esposito portrayed Gus Fring on AMC’s Breaking Bad.
Photo by: Ursula Coyote/AMC

Esposito’s acting career is being recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 29, 2014. His longtime friend Timothy Hutton will be speaking at the ceremony. For more information, visit walkoffame.com.

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Movies Make their Mark on the Big Screen at Florida Film Festival By Sandra Carr

Cinema takes center stage April 4-13, 2014 during the 23rd annual Florida Film Festival at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla. and the Regal Cinemas Winter Park Village Stadium 20 Movie Theater in Winter Park, Fla. The film fete features 170 movies, including animated shorts, documentaries, spotlights, narrative features and shorts and special screenings.

Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

This year’s opening-night film was The Trip to Italy, a movie featuring comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon portraying hilarious variations of themselves during a Romantic poets’ grand tour of Italy.

The Trip to Italy  Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

The Trip to Italy
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

The party continued after the movie with savory flavors by Cask & Larder, Coppola Fine Wines, The Courtesy, Ethos Vegan Kitchen, Enzian & Eden Bar, Hyatt Grand Regency, K Restaurant, The Matador, Olea Grill, Sushi Pop, The Smiling Bison, Tito’s Vodka, Troy & Sons and Whole Foods.

Photo by Michael Liesch

Photo by Michael Liesch

This year the FFF had the Locally Fresh! Farmers Market on Eden Bar’s lawn on Saturday, April 5. Folks had an opportunity to purchase produce from area farmers and vendors.

Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Celebrity appearances include actor Giancarlo Esposito during the 25-year anniversary showing of Spike Lee’s film Do the Right Thing on Sunday, April 6. The actor has also played the notorious meth-lab operator Gustavo “Gus” Fring in Breaking Bad and FBI agent Jack Baer in the Usual Suspects.

Do the Right Thing Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Do the Right Thing
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon will be attending the FFF  at the Enzian Theater on Friday, April 11. Watch her Oscar-winning performance in Dead Man Walking followed by a Q&A with the legendary actress herself. This event is currently on standby. Arrive one hour before the movie for a possible chance of attending this event.

Dead Man Walking  Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Dead Man Walking
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Actor Paul Sorvino portrays a gangster that served time in prison and returns home in the Last I Heard. He will be discussing his career following the screening of Goodfellas on Saturday, April 12.

Last I Heard Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Last I Heard
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Other films include Jude Law’s gritty, cocky and spectacular performance in Dom Hemingway, a film about a thief and safe cracker that serves 12 years in prison and tries to have a new life and re-establish his relationship with his daughter Evelyn.

Dom Hemingway Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Dom Hemingway
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

The documentary For No Good Reason looks at cartoonist and illustrator Ralph Steadman’s career and work with GONZO writer Hunter S. Thompson. Actor Johnny Depp interviews Steadman throughout the documentary at his home and studio in England.

For No Good Reason Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

For No Good Reason
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

The Double , based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s classic novella, starring Jesse Eisenberg as the shy Simon James and his doppelgänger, the reckless and assertive James Simon.

The Double Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

The Double
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage plays the lead role in Joe, a story based on author Larry Brown’s novel about a hard-living and angry ex-con who is trying to lead a life under the radar until he meets a boy that needs a father figure in his life.

Joe Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Joe
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Animator Bill Plympton returns to the festival with Cheatin’,  a story about a guy and gal  in love that are torn apart by jealousy and lies.

Cheatin' Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Cheatin’
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

A couple goes on a car-ride journey to get married in Forev.

Forev Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Forev
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

People are searching for God and the right religion in American Jesus. From snake handlers to mega-church preachers, there’s a religion type for everyone.

American Jesus Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

American Jesus
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Rock stars dream about making it in the music business but what if it never happens? The Front Man documents New Jersey band the Loaded Poets’ lead vocalist Jim Wood still wanting a record deal after more than 25 years of being a local rock ‘n’ roll star and trying to have a normal life with his wife.

The Front Man Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

The Front Man
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Experience comedies, dramas, panel discussions, parties and more during this year’s Florida Film Festival. The more you watch, the more you see! Individual film tickets are $9 and $11 and passes and packages are $99-$800 per person. For more information, including the Florida Film Festival schedule and purchasing tickets, visit http://www.floridafilmfestival.com.

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‘Death Proof’ Star Zoë Bell Talks Acting and Stunts at Florida Film Festival

New Zealand stuntwoman Zoë Bell has been kicking butt since playing Lucy Lawless’ (Xena) stunt double on the TV series Xena: Warrior Princess. Her background includes gymnastics, martial arts and sports. Her career took off after playing actress Uma Thurman’s stunt double in both of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films.

Lucy Lawless (Xena) and Zoe Bell  Image courtesy: ZoeBell.com

Lucy Lawless (Xena) and Zoe Bell
Image courtesy: ZoeBell.com

Tarantino cast Bell as herself in the action-thriller Death Proof  (2007), which was shown during the 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival. Seeing the movie on the big screen and feeling the adrenaline rush and anticipation was worth every penny I spent at the Enzian Theater. My husband Dan and I rented the movie years ago but watching it in the theater put us in the driver’s seat instead of the couch.

Death Proof

Death Proof

The movie features a psychopathic stuntman Mike who kills women with his death-proof stunt car. He meets his match when he comes across stuntwomen Bell and Kim and makeup artist Abernathy driving a muscle car during a movie-making break on the back roads of Lebanon, Tenn. Bell’s gripping performance while playing ships mast, a game where you ride on the hood of a car, during a car chase with stuntman Mike, keeps you on the edge of your seat. Bell is natural, funny and a badass throughout the movie.

A Q&A with the darling daredevil followed the film presentation, with Bell sharing that Tarantino provided her with acting training during the filming of the Kill Bill movies. He had also seen her in Double Dare (2004), a movie about stuntwomen, and felt she was a character that people enjoyed watching and wrote a role for her in Death Proof

Photo by: Sandra Carr

Photo by: Sandra Carr

Bell’s role in Death Proof was such an honor from Tarantino. I asked Bell what it was like to play herself. Bell thought “Tarantino was complimentary but smart because I wasn’t a trained actor and didn’t know the difference or had any point of reference for acting myself or somebody else. The reality was he wrote the character based on me—it was my name, acting and career. But the words were his. Quentin writes dialog and that’s what he does. Quentin wouldn’t allow me to take acting classes and just wanted me to know my script. For the record, I have never rode on a hood of a car or killed a man before [Laughs].”

Zoe Bell during her Q&A at the 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival Photo by Sandra Carr

Zoe Bell during her Q&A at the 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

She also portrayed Eve, an assassin getting revenge on her former employers in the web series Angel of Death (2009) with former Xena star Lucy Lawless. TV show appearances include Lost, CSI: Miami, Gossip Girl and Hawaii Five-O.

Zoe Bell and Sandra Carr at the Florida Film Festival on April 12, 2013 Photo by: Dan Carr

Zoe Bell and Sandra Carr at the Florida Film Festival on April 12, 2013.
Photo by: Dan Carr

Besides Death Proof, her big-screen films include Django Unchained, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and Oblivion. She produces and plays the lead character Sabrina in Raze, a horror, female-fighting flick about abducted women that are forced to fight to the death with their bare hands. The movie premieres at the Tribeca Film Festival and will be out in theaters real soon.

Raze Image courtesy: Upcoming-movies.com

Raze
Image courtesy: Upcoming-movies.com

Bell says Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters was the most challenging role during her career. She plays a Tall Witch in the movie and had to undergo three hours of prosthetic makeup glued into her orifices, contacts, fake teeth and heavy clothing with a corset, hood,  gloves tucked into her costume, horns on her shoulders and heeled boots.

Zoe Bell and Tanya Hanson Photo by: Sandra Carr

Zoe Bell and Tanya Hanson
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Zoe Bell and fans at the Florida Film Festival. Photo by: Tanya Hanson

Zoe Bell and fans at the Florida Film Festival.
Photo by: Tanya Hanson

Being a stuntwoman isn’t easy and Bell provided one person with some valuable advice. “You should be in peak, physical condition and keep training, so that you’re capable of whatever people are asking of you. It’s important to know what your limits are. If you push yourself too far and commit to jobs that are past your limit, then that’s when you disappoint people. Just work very hard to be the best.”

Tanya Hanson, Zoe Bell and Sandra Carr striking a pose on the red carpet during the 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla. Photo by: Samantha Laine

Tanya Hanson, Zoe Bell and Sandra Carr striking a pose on the red carpet during the 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Fla.
Photo by: Samantha Laine

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Tippi Hedren Discusses ‘The Birds’ and Acting Career at Florida Film Festival

The Birds, an Alfred Hitchcock classic about birds attacking people in Bodega Bay, Calif., launched Tippi Hedren’s acting career in 1963. Hitchcock discovered Hedren after seeing her in a Sego diet-drink commercial and knew she was the one that should portray wealthy, San Francisco socialite Melanie Daniels in The Birds. She won a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer – Female for her debut performance.

The Birds Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

The Birds
Image courtesy: Florida Film Festival

Moviegoers watched The Birds during the 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival before a question-and-answer session with Tippi Hedren. My husband Dan and I have seen The Birds on TV,  so watching the movie on the big screen was a real treat!

The Birds Image courtesy of Movie Poster Shop

The Birds
Image courtesy: Movie Poster Shop

Hedren shared memories of making The Birds during her Q&A. She said that Hitchcock assured her that there would only be mechanical birds during the filming of the movie but that wasn’t the case. There were live birds in the movie and one bird pecked Hedren underneath her left eye during the filming of the  birds attacking her  in the upstairs bedroom scene.

Photo by Sandra Carr

Photo by: Sandra Carr

Hedren informed the audience that she wore six light-green suits during the filming, which was her main outfit during the bird scenes. She also didn’t know how to operate a motor boat but got it right on the first try after watching men operating motor boats beforehand. Hedren  loved driving the silver Aston Martin in the film. The crew was worried when she drove near a cliff. The car was going in reverse after she put the clutch into drive and it was a close call!

Tippi Hedren during her Q&A at the 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival Photo by Sandra Carr

Tippi Hedren during her Q&A at the 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

I had an opportunity to ask Hedren what was the one thing she learned from Hitchcock that she used throughout her career. “All of the information about acting, including the aids and thought processes,” she says. “I have used all of those techniques and they have been absolutely invaluable.”

Hitchcock was Hedren’s acting coach and transformed her into a star. He cast his new leading lady, who he was obsessed with, as Marnie Edgar in the 1964 film Marnie. The story is about a woman who is a habitual thief with serious psychological problems that’s married to her boss Mark Rutland, portrayed by Sean Connery.

Image courtesy of Movie Poster Shop

Marnie                                                         Image courtesy: Movie Poster Shop

During the filming of Marnie, Hedren could  no longer tolerate Hitchcock’s sexual advances and ended her contract after the movie was finished. She knew the repercussions of ending her contract with Hitchcock could possibly be the end of her movie career but Hedren didn’t care and just wanted to be free. The HBO movie The Girl,  starring Sienna Miller as Hedren, brings Hitchcock’s obsession and the actress and director’s turbulent relationship to the forefront.

The Girl Image courtesy of IMDB.com

The Girl
Image courtesy: IMDB.com

After Hitchcock’s contract expired, she was cast by actor, writer and director Charlie Chaplin as Martha in A Countess from Hong Kong (1967). Hedren has starred in more than 50 films during her career and portrayed Betty in Free Samples (2012), a movie about a Stanford law-school dropout named Jillian who escapes to Los Angeles to figure out what she wants to do with her life and ends up running an ice-cream truck. The movie was featured during the 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival.

Hedren became passionate about protecting big cats after filming Satan’s Harvest (1970) in South Africa.  She produced and starred in  Roar (1981), an 11-year project that cost $17 million and made $2 million at the box office. The flick featured African lions invading a home and chasing people up and down stairs and into rooms. The film led to establishing the nonprofit Roar Foundation in 1983 and later the Shambala Preserve (http://www.shambala.org/) in Acton, Calif, which is the home of 47 big cats, including African lions, Siberian and Bengal tigers, leopards, servals, mountain lions and bobcats.  Hedren lives on the Shambala Preserve and conducts monthly tours to the general public.

Roar Image courtesy of IMDB.com

Roar
Image courtesy: IMDB.com

Hedren was successful in getting a federal bill passed by Congress to stop the interstate traffic of lions and tigers that was signed by President George W. Bush in 2003.  She’s working on another federal bill to stop the breeding of exotic felines in the U.S. that’s called the Big Cats Public Safety Protection Act, which may get passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama sometime in April.

Hedren says, “she wants to put a stop to big cats being born into captivity and children and adults being killed or maimed for life by these magnificent animals who are literally serial killers. There’s not one thing we can give a wild animal in captivity that they need. What they need is to be born and live free forever.”

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Cinema and Cuisine are an Enticing Pairing at Florida Film Festival

The 22nd Annual Florida Film Festival kicked off with its opening-night movie Twenty Feet from Stardom at the Winter Park Regal Cinema and a savory shindig followed at the Enzian Theater.

Films and food are a flavorful formula the Enzian Theater has mastered and audiences have enjoyed for more than 25 years. The Florida Film Festival takes it up a notch with its culinary celebration, featuring area restaurants serving bodacious bites to delectable desserts.

Food, food, glorious food! I sampled enticing edibles by Eden Bar, Ethos Vegan Kitchen, Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, Rangetsu, Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen and Whole Foods Market while watching The RedCoats rock out and perform Beatles songs on stage.

Eden Bar

Eden Bar, the Enzian Theater’s outdoor bar and restaurant, was my first stop. I tried their yummy chicken quesadilla with pineapples and vanilla ice cream with macadamia nuts and cinnamon. Both food samples were a great start to my edible journey!

http://www.enzian.org/food/eden_bar

Quesadilla with pineapple by Eden BarPhoto by: Sandra Carr

Quesadilla with pineapple by Eden Bar.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Whole Foods Market

Natural-food supermarket chain Whole Foods Market fooled my palate but in a wonderful way. I tried their Vegan General Tso’s Salad. The dish was a little spicy but an explosion of flavor. The dish featured a lettuce and salsa-like mixture on top of chicken. Well, at least I thought I was eating chicken.  I was actually eating Beyond Meat, a soy-based substance that tastes, looks and feels like chicken. The company was started by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone and former Twitter VP of Product Jason Goldman. The trio’s Beyond Meat line will be available at Whole Foods Market very soon.

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/

IMG_5753

Vegan General Tso’s Salad by Whole Foods Market.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Ethos Vegan Kitchen

Ethos Vegan Kitchen has been on my restaurants-to-try list for years now. I finally got the chance and my taste buds thanked me. I was cautious about their Coconut Curry Tofu Pinwheel since I’m not a big fan of spicy food. I was assured by the restaurant’s representative  that the curry wasn’t hot. She was right! The pinwheel was chock full of goodness and included a mixture of grilled tofu coated in curried veganaise  and tossed with celery, raisins, walnuts, coconut and mixed greens wrapped in a spinach tortilla.

Coconut Curry Tofu PinwheelPhoto by: Sandra Carr

Coconut Curry Tofu Pinwheel by Ethos Vegan Kitchen.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

I left room for dessert and tried the eatery’s Creamsicle cupcake. The cupcake was light, sweet and refreshing! My hubby Dan tried their chocolate cupcake with Oreo frosting and a cookie on top. He was in heaven!The frosting also tasted just like an Oreo cookie! Watch out, Ethos Vegan Kitchen! We will be back!

http://www.ethosvegankitchen.com/

Creamsicle and chocolate cupcakes with Oreo frosting and a cookie on top.Photo by: Sandra Carr

Creamsicle and chocolate cupcakes with Oreo frosting and a cookie on top at Ethos Vegan Kitchen. Yum! 
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

The Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress indulges the senses with their divine desserts every year at the Florida Film Festival. This year they outdid themselves with their Roasted Banana Mousse Parfait with caramel caviar on a stick and Macaroon Lollipops. Talk about a sweet sensation!

http://grandcypress.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels-grandcypress/index.jsp?null&hyattprop=yes

Dan is eating the Roasted Banana Mousse Parfait with caramel caviar at the Hyatt Regioncy Grand Cypress.Photo by: Sandra Carr

My hubby Dan Carr is eating the Roasted Banana Mousse Parfait with caramel caviar from the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress!
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Sandra Carr samples a Macaroon Lollypop at the Hyatt Regioncy Grand Cypress!Photo by: Sandra Carr

Sandra Carr samples a Macaroon Lollipop at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress!
Photo by: Dan Carr

Rangetsu

Dan and I ate at Rangetsu in Maitland for the first time two weeks ago and were impressed with their seafood and sushi selections and Asian-contemporary ambiance. The restaurant pleased my palate tonight, too. I tried their tuna flatbread appetizer, which consisted of a tortilla topped with Asian slaw, avocado, feta cheese and seared tuna. That’s on my list the next time I visit Rangetsu!

http://www.rangetsu.com

Tuna FlatbreadPhoto by: Sandra Carr

Tuna Flatbread at Rangetsu.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen

My food-tasting jaunt came to an end at Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen. The restaurant opened last year and has been popular with Cajun-cuisine fans. I should have stopped by this eatery’s table sooner because they ran out of most their food by the time I arrived. I sampled their red beans, which were slowly cooked with ham and topped with white rice  (they ran out of white rice) and grilled, Cajun, hot sausage. I was skeptical about the Cajun taste since I’m a wimp when it comes to spicy food. The restaurant’s representative assured me that the dish wasn’t hot. I couldn’t even taste the Cajun spices! I really wanted to try their bread pudding but will have to pop in and eat it down the road.

http://www.tibbysneworleanskitchen.com/

Red beansPhoto by: Sandra Carr

Red beans at Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen.
Photo by: Sandra Carr

Besides the fabulous food, watch amazing flicks during this year’s film festival. Individual film tickets are $9 and $11 and passes and packages are $99-$1,000 per person. For more information, including the Florida Film Festival schedule and tickets, visit http://www.floridafilmfestival.com.

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