Family-Oriented Features at the 2017 Florida Film Festival

By Leslie C. Halpern

Held throughout Central Florida each spring, this year’s Florida Film Festival (April 21-30) presents more than 180 feature-length and short films from 40 countries, in addition to celebrity guests, special events, film forums, and parties.

This year’s Festival includes competing films in narrative features and documentary programs, plus special screenings of food films, international films, midnight movies, and Florida films. Though focused primarily on programming for adults, in keeping with its annual tradition, the Florida Film Festival also offers a variety of entertainment for children throughout various categories and genres.

For Tweens and Teens

Menashe. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

Menashe

Based largely on the true story of the film’s star, Menashe Lustig, this film explores family life in the heart of New York’s Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn. Within this ultra-Orthodox community, a mother is required to be present in every home with children. So when Menashe’s wife dies, tradition demands his young son be removed from his home to live with a married relative. The film looks at the final week before the wife’s memorial service, when father and son spend their last few days together. The movie was shot secretly within the Hasidic community that it depicts.

  • Director: Joshua Z. Weinstein
  • Run time: 81 minutes
  • Rating: This film is unrated
  • Additional Information: In Yiddish with English subtitles
  • Part of Spotlight Features.

Step. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

Step

This documentary chronicles three inner-city Baltimore girls in their senior year of high school at The Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. Members of the Lethal Ladies dance team, Blessin Giraldo, Tayla Solomon, and Cori Grainger look ahead to next year in college (where each will be the first in her family to receive a higher education) while currently working on the Bowie State step competition.

  • Director: Amanda Lipitz
  • Run time: 83 minutes
  • Rating: This film is rated PG (for thematic elements and some language)
  • Part of Spotlight Features.

Circus Kid. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

Circus Kid

Growing up in the circus led to a lifetime of performing in public for Lorenzo Pisoni, who entered the ring at age 2. Now an adult working as an actor in television, film, and theater, Lorenzo looks back on his time being a clown partner to his perfectionistic father, Larry, who owned and operated The Pickle Family Circus. This documentary examines the artistry of this innovative circus, the behind-the-scenes work involved in producing such a show, and the family dynamics of having both parents, two children, and several employees working closely together in a traveling act. Though alcoholism is briefly discussed as a contributing factor to problems within the circus, the overall content is family-friendly and interesting for all ages.

  • Director: Lorenzo Pisoni
  • Stars: Lorenzo Pisoni, Larry Pisoni, Bill Irwin, Geoff Hoyle, Margaret Snider
  • Run time: 71 minutes
  • Rating: This film is unrated
  • Part of Documentaries in the American Independent Competition.

For the Little Ones

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

Albion: The Enchanted Stallion

In its Florida Premiere, this adventure features a 12-year-old girl (Avery Arendes) who encounters a mysterious black stallion that leads her to the magical world of Albion. Only she can bring peace to those who live there and save the entire race of people from the evil General Eeder (John Cleese). Filmed in Bulgaria, Florida, and Michigan, this movie features exotic locales and comedy in an imaginative coming-of-age story suitable for the entire family.

  • Director: Castille Landon (who also plays the part of a young warrior), Albion: The Enchanted Stallion
  • Stars: Jennifer Morrison, Debra Messing, Stephen Dorff, Daniel Sharman, Liam McIntyre, and Richard Kind
  • Run time: 103 minutes
  • Rating: This film is unrated
  • Part of Family Programming.

Supergirl. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

Supergirl

This documentary introduces audiences to 12-year-old Naomi Kutin, an Orthodox Jewish girl from New Jersey who is breaking worldwide records in powerlifting. Although she seems to be a normal girl, going to school, studying the Torah, and spending time with friends, she’s simultaneously struggling to maintain her title as the strongest girl in the world who can lift three times her body weight. Her ever-present mismatched knee socks and sweet smile belie the determination and courage of this one extraordinary supergirl.

  • Director: Jessie Auritt
  • Run time: 80 minutes
  • Rating: This film is unrated
  • Additional Information: Preceded by the four-minutes short film Big Booom, a brief history of humanity and the world in claymation, as seen through the eyes of Russian director and writer Marat Narimanov
  • Part of Family Programming.

Click here for information about special guests at the Festival, and check the official website for show times, ticket information, and additional films of interest.

 

Family Programming at 2016 Florida Film Festival

By Leslie C. Halpern

The 25th Annual Florida Film Festival, produced by Enzian Theater and held from April 8-17 throughout Central Florida, offers more than 180 feature and short films from 36 countries, in addition to celebrity guests, special events, film forums, and parties. This year’s festival includes competing films in narrative features and documentary programs, plus special screenings of food films, international films, midnight movies, and Florida films.

In keeping with its annual tradition, family programing includes a sidebar with intriguing new independently produced, kid-friendly films that you probably won’t find at the local cineplex.

April and the Extraordinary World

(Screens Saturday, April 9, noon – 1:45 p.m. at Regal Winter Park Village A)

April and the Extraordinary World. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

April and the Extraordinary World. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

Co-directors Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci, present an animated alternative history of a steampunk Paris, France, in 1941 that’s stuck in the industrial middle ages. An orphaned teenaged girl named April (Avril) and her talking cat try to combat the dense fog and pollution suffocating the city and its people. Aided by her grandfather and a young police informer, she launches a search for the missing scientists (which include her parents) who have mysteriously vanished, and who can bring science and technology to this dark, dreary, underdeveloped society. Based on a graphic novel by Jacques Tardi, the English-language version of this animated action adventure comedy includes the vocal talents of Paul Giamatti, Tony Hale, Susan Sarandon, and J.K. Simmons.

  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • In English
  • MPAA Rating: PG (for action/peril including gunplay, some thematic elements and rude humor)
  • Additional Note: In French, originally titled Avril et le monde truque and starred the vocal talents of Marion Cotillard, Philippe Katerine, and Jean Rochefort
  • Purchase from Amazon.com.

Phantom Boy

(Screens Sunday, April 17, noon – 1:30 p.m. at Regal Winter Park Village A)

Phantom Boy. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

Phantom Boy. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

Directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol (the team who created the Oscar-nominated A Cat in Paris), this feature focuses on a sick boy named Leo, who has superpowers that allow him to temporarily leave his body during his chemotherapy treatments and float over New York City. During these surreal experiences, he helps other children, and teams with a wheelchair-bound policeman and a reporter to thwart the efforts of Broken Face, an evil mobster threatening to destroy the city. This animated fantasy includes the vocal talents of Audrey Tautou, Edouard Baer, Jean-Pierre Marielle, and Jackie Berroyer.

  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • In French with English subtitles
  • Florida Premiere
  • MPAA Rating: PG (for thematic elements)
  • Purchase from Amazon.com.

Taking Flight

(Screens before Phantom Boy)

Taking Flight. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

Taking Flight. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

Inspired by the life of Antonio Pasin, the inventor of the Radio Flyer Wagon, this animated short is the latest offering from Brandon Oldenburg, the Oscar-winning director of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and The Numberlys. This time, a young boy and his grandfather turn a boring day into an unforgettable adventure with a very special wagon. This animated short includes the vocal talents of Asher Blinkoff, Kevin Rahm, and Ray Wise.

  • Run Time: 5 minutes
  • In English
  • Southeast Premiere
  • MPAA Rating: Unrated.

For more information about the Florida Film Festival, visit the official website at www.floridafilmfestival.com.