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The Florida Film Festival kicked off on Friday, April 13, with a one-film opening night event. That was just the cutting of the ribbon, so to speak, as the festival shifted into high-gear on Saturday. Saturday was the first of the next nine days to feature screenings lasting all day and spread out over multiple venues.
I started Saturday by traveling to Winter Garden, Florida to the furthest offshoot of the festival, the Garden Theater. Winter Garden had its main road shut down, as they were hosting their Garden Festival. The Garden Festival is an outdoor affair with some live music and vendors lined up all the way down the street, selling plants. In the heart of this action lies the Garden Theater, a delightful one-screen theater, lined with decor depicting an outdoor villa.
The screening began with an introduction, then a short film. The film was ‘The Gruffalo’s Child,’ an animated film based on the picture book and the sequel to ‘The Gruffalo.’ The short was done in pseudo-claymation-style and used an enjoyable rhyming scheme in the narration and dialogue. It featured voices most notably from Helena Bonham Carter, John Hurt, and Robbie Coltrane. The adventure story was quite fun and very well told, and it set us up for the feature.
The feature film was ‘A Cat In Paris,’ a film that was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2011. The premise of the film is a family cat secretly moonlighting as a cat burglar with a man named Nico. Everybody gets into some hijinks, and a fun adventure unfolds.
However, the highlight of the film is the animation. It is hand-drawn and simply exudes French art. The style is something resembling Picasso in motion, and it makes nearly every frame look like a piece of art. After the film concluded, the audience handed in their ballots, as both films were in competition for the audience award.
My day was not finished, though, and I returned to the Regal Theater to see a movie in the Midnight Feature category. The movie screening was ‘God Bless America,’ the latest film from Bobcat Goldthwait. The film starred Joel Murray as Frank, and Tara Lynne Barr as Roxy.
The movie is about Frank being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and rather than killing himself, he decides to embark on a rampage against reality TV stars and other fame-mongers he considers to be ruining America. The premise itself can tell you just how blunt the message of this movie is, and if you agree with it, this movie can be hilarious. The absurdity of the story resulted in many huge laughs from the midnight crowd, and nothing but smiles on the way out.
My first full day at the Florida Film Festival 2012 was only a small sample of the wide variety of films one could come by at a festival such as this.
Image Courtesy of Florida Film Festival – Official