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Friday, April 13 at 7:00 PM, the 2012 Florida Film Festival officially got under way. It is the 21st annual Florida Film Festival and it kicked off in style. The festival began at the Regal Cinema in Winter Park, Florida, even though the featured theater is the Enzian. There was a big buzz outside the theater and around the small red carpet in anticipation of the 10 days of films to come.
There was excitement and eagerness around the opening movie, and for many reasons. For one, the opening film only screens once, while most other films will screen on at least two separate occasions. Another reason was the film itself; Renee is a movie based on real life events that inspired the “To Write Love On Her Arms” movement. The real life events for the story took place only a few minutes away from the screening in Orlando while adding to the local flavor is that the movie was filmed in Orlando as well.
The theater had a miniature red carpet set up outside, which many fans, press, and crew gathered around. Many people involved in the film stepped onto the red carpet for some brief interviews. The director, writer, some actors, a plethora of technical people, and even the real life people the movie portrays, were all in attendance.
The theater was at maximum capacity for the screening; it was even being shown in two theaters. There was a microphone set up at the front of the theater and Matthew Curtis from Enzian declared the festival officially open. The crowd cheered and we were presented with an opening short film.
The short was Fresh Guacamole, a little two-minute film in stop motion fashion. It was simply a man cutting up household items as ingredients for a bowl of guacamole dip. It was very clever and quite delightful to watch in its style of animation. Then came the feature presentation.
The film Renee is based on the story of Renee Yohe; a girl with a vivid imagination but also tormented by drug addiction and self-cutting. The movie was directed by Nathan Frankowski and stars Kat Dennings as Renee along with Chad Michael Murray and Rupert Friend. The film portrays her imagination beautifully with fantasy like sequences with a mix of special effects and music.
Much of the technical work was done at local institutions like Full Sail University, University of Central Florida and Dave School. Many of these people were in attendance and enjoying seeing their work on the big screen.
Along with these wonderful imagination sequences, the movie also has an emotionally heavy heart. The story of Renee’s journey from screw-up to attempted recovery really conveys a good message of finding help for yourself and for others. After the film ended, the audience gave a well deserved round of applause. Then, all of the people associated with the film filled the front of the theater for questions and answers.
There were many good moments from the Q&A discussion, but the highlight for me was hearing from the people who experienced it in real life. They said that the movie sparked memories for them and made them remember what they went through. Hearing from the real Renee after hearing her story was surreal and inspiring, seeing how far she has come and where she is today. After it was all said and done, the Florida Film Festival was off to a fantastic start.
Image Courtesy of talktogabriel