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Orlando Weekly's guide to the 2013 Florida Film Festival

Central Florida’s annual festival of film and food returns for its 22nd year

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April 5-14 | Enzian Theater | 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland | 407-629-0054 floridafilmfestival.com

It’s film festival time in Orlando again, and beautiful is not a bad word to describe this year’s Florida Film Festival smorgasbord.

From a gritty documentary about a Detroit pimp to a Q&A with Cary Elwes of The Princess Bride to a special 35mm showing of Fellini’s 8 1/2, the 22nd annual event has the proverbial “little something for everyone.” And speaking of little, the shorts programs may be this year’s highlight.

A total of 121 short films are split into 11 programs, with the four main narrative groups each named for a recently deceased musician, such as “I’m a Believer” for Davy Jones and “Stayin’ Alive” for Robin Gibb. Of course, there’s no guarantee of quality, as programmers must dig deep to fill their schedule. But discovering which films move you to tears and which move you to the bathroom is just one of the joys of this event.

If shorts aren’t meaty enough for you, the festival contains 45 new features (19 documentaries and 26 narratives) and seven older ones. There’s just one animated feature, but four separate programs contain either all or some animated shorts.

Wanters of weird will flock to the four offbeat, adult-oriented features in the Midnight Movies program. Their even uglier cousins are the Midnight Shorts, which committee member Jim DeSantis describes as “raunchy and shocking,” adding, “We try to make people uncomfortable.”

Making patrons uncomfortable isn’t exactly the goal of festival president Henry Maldonado, who wants the audience to feel at home at all festival locations, which include the Enzian in Maitland, Regal Cinemas in Winter Park Village and the Garden Theatre in Winter Garden.

“This is a festival of independent film … and the people who come to the festival know exactly what the filmmakers are doing, and they have a tremendous appreciation for them,” Maldonado says. “These are people who do it for the love of the movie, and for the love of the art, and for the getting a message across in a medium that really allows you to just kind of jiggle all your senses at the same time.”

Some festivals make or break a filmmaker, giving the event a rather formal and intimidating air. Not this one.

“This is a festival that we hope … filmmakers come to [in order to] lick their wounds and kind of re-energize. And as opposed to being a festival where you come to kind of hustle the deal, this is a festival where you come to make friends and … renew relationships.”

And thanks to 21 world premieres and 24 participating countries, plus food events, parties and celebrity appearances, you’re likely to make friends with people you never even dreamed of meeting.

In the following pages, we’ve reviewed as many films as we could get our hands on, to help you navigate the festival fare. In addition, we’ve got a rundown of the food-related events taking place during the festival, which you’ll find here.

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