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2012 Florida Film Festival

The 2012 Florida Film Festival's brightest star is Central Florida itself. Are we ready for our close-up?

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Florida Film Festival 2012

April 13-22 at
Enzian Theater and Regal
Winter Park Village 20
$10 (individual screenings), $50-$180 (ticket packages, $450-$1,000 (various inclusive passes)

For better or worse, but mostly worse, Central Florida has gotten pretty good at being in the national spotlight in the last few years. Media circuses are no longer anything new around these parts – or so we tell ourselves. Central Florida, it seems, has reached its moral adolescence, the point at which it must clear away the haze of bad decisions and wonder where it goes from here.

By happy accident, the 2012 Florida Film Festival has brought in some of the best guidance counselors one can imagine. In addition to celebrity chefs (see sidebar, p. 11) and filmmakers from all over the world, some of whom are here to watch the premiere of their labors of love, the festival welcomes Cloris Leachman with a special screening of Peter Bogdanovich's seminal coming-of-age tale The Last Picture Show as well as writer-director and filmmaking legend Barry Levinson, who opted to screen his 1999 film Liberty Heights, about a group of teens and their first incendiary brush with race relations in the 1950s.

In more direct ways, this year's record-breaking crop of 167 films reflects Central Florida's growing significance. Local producer Melanie Lentz-Janney and DeLand director Sylvia Caminer have created the loudest buzz (to the dismay of the Enzian Theater's workers, who have been flooded with questions) with their competition documentary An Affair of the Heart, a star-studded case for the continued relevance of rocker Rick Springfield. Austin, Texas-based, Orlando-adopted filmmakers the Zellner brothers compete in the narrative fiction category with their arresting new film Kid-Thing, which FFF Programming Director Matthew Curtis believes will be the most divisive entry of the fest. And last but certainly not least, the opening night film, Renee, starring 2 Broke Girls' Kat Dennings, is the first mini-major movie to ever showcase downtown Orlando and its surrounding spots (including Stardust Video & Coffee, Wall St. Plaza, the Beacham and a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo from an Orlando Weekly newsstand) in such a prominent way. The film tells the story of locally based nonprofit To Write Love On Her Arms and was written, shot and produced by locals in collaboration with Full Sail, the DAVE School and many other area film programs. Yes, we're in the spotlight again. This time, it feels pretty good.

On the following pages you'll find an almost comprehensive look at the feature films, competition and otherwise, that comprise this year's Florida Film Festival. Additional reviews of the films screened too late for print will be available at orlandoweekly.com. Please also visit floridafilmfestival.com for complete showtimes, schedule and ticket information.

Friday 13

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