Some New Faces and A Handful of World Premieres as Florida
Unveils American Independent Competition, and Announces Opening Night Film
by Eugene Hernandez
Twenty independent films are screening in the American Independent Film
Competition at the 1998 Florida Film Festival, running June 12 - 21, 1998
in Orlando, Florida. The Central Florida event, which has emerged as a
leading regional film festival, will open with a screening of Richard
Bieman's "A Merry War", adaptation of George Orwell's "Keep the Aspidistra
Flying". The films stars Helena Bonham Carter and Richard E. Grant.
The 1998 festival approaches with a few new faces in place at the
Enzian organization, the not-for-profit group that produces the festival.
Near the end of last year's fest, Executive Director Sigrid Tiedtke
announced that she would step down and introduced attendees to her
replacement, Melanie Gasper. Tiedtke remained involved as a member
of the programming committee this year. Another departing organizer
was media and marketing head Mike Monello, who also remained involved
as a programmer. Monello's replacement Rich Grula offered that his
focus has been to cultivate greater festival awareness among the local
community, building on the success of the festival's homebase Enzian
Theater -- a popular dinner theater/art house in adjacent Maitland.
Grula told indieWIRE that the festival sold 15,000 tickets last year,
and with more screenings this year, expectations are that sales will
exceed that number.
Program Director Matthew Curtis said that he received over 500
submissions, a 25% jump over last year. Commenting on the 1998
program, Curtis highlighted the three premieres in the dramatic
competition, and also noted the strength of the documentary competition.
While last year was recognized as a strong year for non-fiction features
at the Florida Fest, thanks to screenings of the fest award-winning
"Hands On A Hardbody" and the Oscar nominated "Waco: the Rules of
Engagement, Curtis said, "The docs last year were phenomenally
strong," noting, "this year comes close." Curtis, a former sales
director for Corinth Films proclaimed, "We could have easily
doubled the doc section...there were a lot of really fine docs that
we did not have the room for."
In the documentary competition, ten non-fiction films have been selected:
"Calling the Ghosts", directed by Mandy Jacobson; "The Farm", directed
by Jonathan Stack & Liz Garbus; "Frat House", directed by Todd Phillips
& Andrew Gurland; "The Human Race", directed by Bobby Houston; "A
Letter Without Words", directed by Lisa Lewenz; "Midnight in Cuba",
directed by Dimitri Falk; "Modulations", directed by Iara Lee; "Slam
Nation", directed by Paul Devlin; "Tango the Obsession", directed by
Adam Boucher; and "Tell About the South", directed by Ross Spears.
As mentioned, three of the ten dramatic features screening in Florida
are world premiere's: Harry Bromley-Davenport' s "Erasable You", with
Timothy Busfield, M. Emmet Walsh, and Jennifer Grant; Stuart Burkin's
"Harvest", which stars Mary McCormack, John Slattery & Jeff DeMunn;
and Matt Mulhern's "Walking to the Waterline", starring Mulhern, Hallie
Foote, Alan Ruck, Matthew Broderick, and Hal Holbrook. Other films
screening in competition are: "Brother Tied", directed by Derek M.
Cianfrance; "Cadillac", directed by Andrew Frank; "Every Dog Has Its
Day", directed by Marc Chiat; "Jerome", directed by Tom Johnston, Dave
Elton & Eric Tignini; "Tomorrow Night", directed by Louis C.K.;
"Unmade Beds", directed by Nicholas Barker; and "Windhorse", directed
by Paul Wagner.