The 25th Annual Florida Film Festival, made by Enzian Theater and held through Central Florida each April, provides almost 200 feature and short films from countries around the planet, as well as star guests, special events, film forums, and parties. This year’s festival includes rival films in narrative attributes and documentary programs, plus exclusive screenings of food films, international films, midnight movies, family programming, along with Florida films. A sampling of films appears below.
Called the opening night film, The Lobster stars Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz in a film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) about single people in a dystopian society being given ultimatums to find suitable mates within 45 days or be flipped into the animal of their own choice. This magical transformation enables lonely singles to find a second chance at life and love. The principal character, David, selects a lobster due to their durability and sustained fertility. The film is shown in English and French with English subtitles, also co-stars John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw, Lea Seydoux, along with Michael Smiley. Run Time: 119 Minutes.
The Babushkas of Chernobyl
Directed by Holly Morris and Anne Bogart, this moving film explores aged women forced from their homes after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, who have returned to their former homes. They grow their own food in the arctic soil using polluted water and air to get nutrition. Despite the danger of living in the banned exclusion zone, all these babushkas prefer to perish in their houses of radiation poisoning than reside safely away from their homeland. Amid the girls friendly village potlucks, an interesting subplot involves risk-taking young video gamers who routinely slide over barbed wire fences to re-enact scenes from the game “Stalker.” Both of these diverse groups have reverse motives such as breaking the law, and offer a fascinating look at real life after a nuclear crisis. Run Time: 72 Minutes. Additional Note: In Ukrainian with English subtitles. 5/5 Stars.
Man vs. Snake: The Long and Twisted Story of Nibbler
This fun documentary combines animation, archival footage, news clippings, and brand new interviews to tell the story of a likeable small-town gamer called Tim McVey, who attained a billion-point score onto the video game Nibbler, back in 1984. In 2008, he discovered that someone else claimed to have conquered his album. Dismayed at the potential for losing his status as the Nibbler champion, he wants to reclaim the title using a brand new competition, but discovers his era and out-of-shape body can’t take the endurance as well as the teenaged version of himself could. Directed by Tim Kinzy along with Andrew Seklir, this film contains unexpected twists which make viewers care about a guy they’ve never met and a single-player sport they’ve never hear about. Run Time: 92 Minutes. 4/5 Stars.
Directed by and starring Julie Delpy, this intimate comedy looks at a 40-something divorced girl (Delpy) whose 19-year-old son (Vincent Lacoste) secretly sabotages her amorous adventures. Her most recent love is a good-natured, low-key kind of man (Dany Boon) who suspects maybe something isn’t quite right with his girlfriend’s son, but does not have any thought to what depths the boy will sink to keep his mother around himself. Mostly amusing and light (with hints of Jonah Hill at Cyrus throughout), this French film also delves into the darker aspect of a child with unresolved Oedipal problems. Lolo is now in English and French with English subtitles. Run Time: 99 Minutes. 3/5 Stars.
Directed by Brendan Toller (I Want That Record! The Departure [or Possible Survival] of this Independent Record Store), that documentary film examines the life, times, along with tasks of Danny Fields, famous for his job as a music manager, director of publicity at Elektra Records, along with rock journalist. Having worked with a number of revolutionary groups, such as the Doors, Cream, Lou Reed, Nico, the Stooges, and the Ramones, Fields has supported music and musicians as an all-star icon for decades. This picture includes appearances by Judy Collins, Alice Cooper, John Cameron Mitchell, Iggy Pop, Tommy Ramone, and Jann Wenner. Run Time: 104 Minutes.
Syl Johnson: Any Way the Wind Blows
Chicago R&B singer and guitarist Syl Johnson was a feeling in the 1960s with his strikes “Come On Sock It to Me,” “Different Strokes,” and “Is It Because I’m Black.” However, despite undeniable talent, record prices, lively stage presence, along with a complete program of touring, Johnson faded to obscurity. Leaving the audio business to research different options for supporting his family, Johnson made a sudden comeback in recent years through countless rap and hip hop artists sampling his music and being forced (with the threat of lawsuits) to give him the proper credit and compensation. Director Rob Hatch-Miller calls upon RZA, Prince Paul, Peanut Butter Wolf, Jazzy Jay, Jonathan Lethem, Otis Clay, and Syleena Johnson to assist reveal Syl’s actual story. Run Time: 84 Minutes. 3/5 Stars.
For a comprehensive collection of films or to find out more about this Florida Film Festival, see the official website.
Leslie Halpern is a film critic and author of four nonfiction books about the film and entertainment industry. She wrote “200 Love Lessons from the Movies,” (Taylor Trade Publishing, 2016), “Passionate About Their Work: 151 Celebrities, Artists, and Pros on Creativity” (BearManor Media, 2010), “Reel Romance: The Lovers’ Guide to the 100 Best Date Movies” (Taylor Trade Publishing, 2004), and “Dreams on Film: The Cinematic Struggle Between Art and Science” (McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003) .