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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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Despite those shortcomings, the film makes us appreciate anew the gifts that the Renoirs left us, while giving us a rare glimpse into their lives. – CM

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SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE

★★★★

Since frontier times, desperate American men have turned to mail-order bride services in hopes of finding love. The majority of women listed in these services today are either Asian or Eastern European. As a Chinese-American, documentarian Debbie Lum had always been curious as to why certain Western men are so enamored with Asian women, so she decided to search for the answer.

Lum contacted several men who posted on dating sites that were exclusively seeking Asian women. After interviewing Steven Bolstad, a twice-divorced sexagenarian, she knew she’d found the perfect subject for her documentary. When we first meet Bolstad onscreen, he’s making racial comments about Asian eyes. He then proceeds to reminisce about a Vietnamese film that he once saw, The Scent of Green Papaya, which featured what he referred to as an “idyllic servant girl.” He then muses on the possibility of finding a mate like the girl in the film. He comes off as a man that would make women uncomfortable. Even Debbie confesses that she felt uncomfortable with him in the beginning.

Nevertheless, after corresponding with hundreds of Asian women over the course of five years, Bolstad finds one who agrees to marry him. Sandy, 30, is a Chinese national who entered the U.S. on a K-1 fiancée visa. If she doesn’t marry within three months she must return to China. Surprisingly, Sandy doesn’t appear to have any ulterior motives and genuinely seems to be interested in Bolstad. However, when the relationship turns tumultuous, the couple seeks Debbie’s counsel, as she is the only person they know who can speak both English and Mandarin. As Debbie is dragged into her own documentary, she begins to question her ethics, adding a compelling new layer to an already fascinating and often unsettling film. – Audrey Bergquist

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Sightseers

★★

Something goes bad along the way in Sightseers, but you already know that if you’ve seen the British film’s trailer. However, I’m talking about not just the characters’ idyllic vacation-turned-disaster, but the movie itself, which morphs from cleverly quirky to deliciously dark to just plain mean-spirited and unfunny, all in only 90 minutes.

Feeling guilty over the accidental death of her dog and in desperate need of an escape from her clinging mother, Tina (Alice Lowe) sets out with her new boyfriend, Chris (Steve Oram), for a road tour of the Yorkshire countryside. But during a horrible accident, a screw is apparently knocked loose in their brains because they then proceed to rampage about the countryside in a misguided metaphor for selfishness, anarchy and the trappings of a civilized society.

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