Narrative Features Capsule Reviews From the 2018 Florida Film Festival

By Leslie C. Halpern

The 27th Annual Florida Film Festival, produced by Enzian Theater and held throughout Central Florida from April 6-15, 2018, offers nearly 200 narrative features and documentary short films from countries around the world, in addition to celebrity guests, special events, film forums, film sidebars, parties, and the American Independent Competition. A sampling of narrative features capsule reviews appears below.

Back to Burgundy. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

Back to Burgundy

In the Food Films Sidebar. In French, Spanish, and English with English subtitles. Narrative Feature. Screens April 7, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. at Regal Winter Park Village.

This heartfelt narrative drama captures the intoxicating ambiance of the French vineyard where most of the film was shot. Jean’s father drove him away from home with his cold criticism, and now 10 years later his father draws him back. The return visit has far more significance than the departure, because his father is dying. As his father’s life ends, Jean’s new life begins. The oldest of three children – all bequeathed the house and vineyard equally – Jean must decide if he wants to stay, rent, or sell his stake in the long-time family business. Using this time to sort out his feelings for his siblings, his relationship to his father, and the separation from his wife and their child, Jean is faced with important decisions, and this time he can’t just run away. Lush, rich, and layered, this film features beautiful cinematography, delightful performances, and a story worth telling. Enjoy it with a glass of wine.

  • Directed by Cedric Klapisch
  • Stars Pio Marmai, Ana Girardot, Francois Civil, Jean-March Roulot, Maria Valverde
  • Run time: 113 minutes
  • MPAA rating: Not Rated
  • 4 / 5

Borg McEnroe. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

Borg McEnroe

In Spotlight Films. Narrative Feature. In English and Swedish. Screens April 8, 2018 at 8:30 p.m. and April 15, 2018 at 3:00 p.m., both at Regal Winter Park Village.

This sports drama begins as a character study of Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason), the cool controlled tennis phenomenon from Sweden. Flashbacks reveal how he learned to suppress his emotions, which now threaten to undermine his 1980 attempt to maintain his place as the top-ranked tennis player in the world. Ultimately pitted against the hot-tempered American tennis sensation, John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf), both men need to keep their emotions in check to master their opponent. The two actors seem perfectly suited for their roles – both emotionally and physically, they fully embody their volatile and athletic characters. The background story on Borg is interesting, as is his troubled relationship with his girlfriend, and McEnroe’s explosive temper tantrums establish his personality. However, by far the most engrossing part of this film is the Wimbledon championship as Borg attempts to achieve a record-breaking fifth-straight win.

  • Directed by Janus Metz
  • Stars Shia LaBeouf, Sverrir Gudnason, Stellan Skarsgard
  • Run time: 107 minutes
  • MPAA Rating R
  • 3.5 / 5

The Feels. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

The Feels

In the American Independent Competition. Narrative Feature. Screens April 9, 2018 at 8:45 p.m. and April 13, 2018 at 1:30 p.m., both at Regal Winter Park Village.

Although sexual feelings – particularly same-sex feelings – are the obvious focus of this film, deeper problems surface as the story slowly progresses. Set in a secluded house for a weekend-long bachelorette party, this film starts out as a low-budget lesbian version of Bridesmaids, (complete with the coarse Melissa McCarthy character, only this time played by Ever Mainard). There’s jealousy, tension, doubt, lies, and hurt feelings among the entire wedding party, including the token male (Josh Fadem), a platonic friend who longs for more. Brief “interviews” with each character shed some light on the early sexual experiences that shaped their current status. Several improvised scenes combined with a slow-moving script delay the important discussions until the final third of the movie. Until then, it’s mostly scenes of sexual innuendo, alcohol consumption, and drugs intended to be comical, but not quite hitting the mark.

  • Directed by Jenee LaMarque
  • Stars  Constance Wu, Josh Fadem, Jenee LaMarque, Angela Trimbur, Ever Mainard
  • Run time: 90 minutes
  • MPAA Rating: Not Rated
  • 2.5 / 5

For a complete list of films and to learn more about the Florida Film Festival, visit the official website.


Kid-Friendly Movies at the 2018 Florida Film Festival

By Leslie C. Halpern

Though focused primarily on movies for adults, the 27th Annual Florida Film Festival – which runs from April 6-15 – honors its tradition of also offering a family programming sidebar with unique new independently produced movies appropriate for youngsters. In addition to the sidebar, the Spotlight Films category contains another film that children and teens may enjoy watching with their parents – a documentary about Fred Rogers and his long-running television series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Family Programming

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales…

Screens Saturday, April 7 at 11:30 a.m.; Regal Winter Park Village.

Making its Southeast premiere at The Florida Film Festival, this adaptation of the director’s own graphic novel includes hand-drawn 2-D animation. The film is comprised of three separate tales presented as a stage play by the Honeysuckle Farm Theatre Company. Complete with non-stop action and quirky talking animals, each story has a farm setting with reappearing animals that includes a mother hen, a pig, a duck, a rabbit, and a fox. The film is in French with English subtitles, but the universal action depicted on the screen tells its own story of cooperation and understanding that goes beyond words.

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales…

  • Directed by Benjamin Renner and Patrick Imbert (animator)
  • Stars the voices of Kamel Abdessadok, Jules Bienvenu, Guillaume Bouchede, Jean-Loup Horwitz, Guillaume Darnault
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • MPAA Rating: G

Lu Over the Wall

Screens Saturday, April 14 at 11:30 a.m.; Regal Winter Park Village

Set in a small Japanese fishing village, this animated feature tells the story of 14-year-old Kai, a child of recently divorced parents who withdraws into music to deal with his grief. When he joins a band that practices by Merfolk Island, Kai meets Lu, a high-spirited mermaid with an enchanting singing voice. When the suspicious villagers learn of Lu’s existence, they are divided between wanting to exploit her to revive the fishing village and fearing her presence because of a legendary curse. The film, filled with lively music and fluid Japanese anime, looks at how the magical young mermaid not only changes one boy’s life, but an entire village.

Lu Over the Wall. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

  • Directed by Masaaki Yuasa
  • Stars the voices of Kanon Tani, Shota Shimoda, Shin’ichi Shinohara, Akira Emoto, Soma Saito, Minako Kotobuki
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • MPAA Rating: PG (for some peril and thematic elements).

Family Friendly Spotlight Film

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Screens Saturday, April 14 at 11:00 a.m. at Enzian Theater.

This documentary examines television icon Fred Rogers, who helped children understand some of life’s challenges and deal with their own emotions through his calm words of wisdom. His television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ran for more than three decades, often using puppetry to deliver its messages. His inclusive idea that all of us belong to a global neighborhood was way ahead of its time.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

  • Directed by Academy Award-winner Morgan Neville
  • Stars Fred Rogers (in archival footage), Joanne Rogers, Francois Scarborough Clemmons, Yo-Yo Ma, Joe Negri, David Newell
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • This film is unrated

Visit the official website for more information about the Florida Film Festival produced by Enzian Theater.

2018 Florida Film Festival Overview

By Leslie C. Halpern

The 27th Annual Florida Film Festival, produced by Enzian Theater and held this year from April 6 – 15 throughout Central Florida, offers 183 feature and short films from 38 countries. The Festival includes the American Independent Competition with narrative features and documentaries, 23 world premieres, 82 women filmmakers, and a new experimental shorts program titled “Sunspots: New Visions in the Avant-Garde.”

As always, Festival goers also can choose from a variety of additional programming, such as celebrity guest events, special screenings, film sidebars, midnight movies, family films, international showcase, Florida films, parties, and the popular film forums offered free to the community.

Some upcoming highlights from this year’s Festival:

American Animals will be the opening film at the Florida Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

  • Opening Night Film and Party. American Animals in its East Coast premiere, starring Evan Peters, Blake Jenner, and Barry Keoghan in a heist film directed by Bart Layton. Blake Jenner will be in attendance for the film and party, and will participate in a post-film Q&A. The party includes food samples and cocktails from local restaurants.

Ramen Heads. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

  • Food Film Sidebar with the narrative feature Back to Burgundy (directed bv Cedric Klapisch) and the documentary Ramen Heads (directed by Koki Shigeno).
  • Family Film Sidebar with two animated features for children making their Southeast premieres. The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales… directed by Benjamin Renner and Patrick Imbert, and Lu Over the Wall directed by Masaaki Yuasa.

Grace Jones: Blood and Bami. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

  • Music Film Sidebar features three documentaries: 40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie (directed by Lee Aronsohn); The Godfathers of Hardcore (directed by Ian McFarland); and Grace Jones: Blood and Bami (directed by Sophie Fiennes).
  • Festival Block Party sponsored by Winter Park Village. Saturday, April 7 from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Regal Winter Park Village in Winter Park. Free for all Festival ticket and pass holders. Meet at the Winter Park Village fountain for live entertainment and free drinks and appetizers from participating restaurants.

Pam Grier in Jackie Brown. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

  • Sunday, April 8 from 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m., Enzian Theater will host “An Evening with Pam Grier,” featuring director Quentin Tarantino’s third film, Jackie Brown, which stars Grier as the title character along with Samuel L. Jackson, Robert DeNiro, Michael Keaton, and Robert Forster. A screening of the crime caper action movie, based on Elmore Leonard’s novel Rum Punch, precedes the interactive event with Grier.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg in RBG. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

  • The Spotlight Films program includes 11 non-competing movies with especially intriguing premises, riveting subjects, and well-known stars. Included in this year’s lineup: Borg McEnroe (starring Sverrir Gudnason and Shia LaBeouf, respectively, in a fact-based sports film by director Janus Metz); Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (a documentary directed by Morgan Neville about Rollins College graduate Fred Rogers); and RBG (a documentary directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West about 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg).
  • Enzian Theater hosts three filmmaker forums: “Write Now! A Screenwriter’s Road from Keyboard to Storyboard” on Wednesday, April 11, 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; “Indie Women: Grab ‘em by the Movies” on Thursday, April 12, 11:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; and “Filmmaker Forum” on Friday, April 13, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

For a complete list of films, parties, events, and ticket information, visit the Florida Film Festival website.