The annual pilgrimage of cinephiles and movie fans begins tonight as the 23rd Florida Film Festival opens. For ten days film enthusiasts will be treated to a veritable smorgasbord of 170 independent and foreign films, from documentaries to animated shorts. Screenings will occur at the Winter Park Village Regal and the Enzian Theater in Maitland. Tickets are available at both venues as well as online at the official Florida Film Festival website.
The opening night film, The Trip to Italy, features Steve Coogan in a sequel to 2011's The Trip, a hilarious road movie through England. As always, the festival will feature a number of special guests. This year includes such cinematic luminaries as Susan Sarandon, Paul Sorvino, and Giancarlo Esposito. Sarandon will be screening Dead Man Walking, for which she won a Best Actress Oscar. Sorvino is here to screen both Goodfellas and his latest feature, Last I Heard. Esposito, best known these days for his roles in Breaking Bad and Once Upon a Time, will be in attendance at the screening of Spike Lee's masterpiece Do the Right Thing. In addition, there are a number of filmmaker panels scheduled, as well as several parties. Some events are free, but some require tickets so be sure to check the festival site.
A number of the films are in competition in various categories, including best narrative feature. These are voted on by a jury of experts but there are audience awards as well, so it pays to attend as many as possible and make your own opinion heard.
I'll be spending the next week and a half immersed in the festival, screening movies and posting my reviews and reactions right here. The lineup this year is quite diverse and exciting, and I encourage everyone to get out and support independent film by attending at least one of the screenings. The Enzian Theater is a local treasure and if you haven't been there yet, this is the perfect time.