April 8-April 17 at Enzian Theater
and Regal Winter Park Village 20
$10 (individual screenings), $40-$140 (ticket packages), $650 (all-access pass)
From arrogant chefs to bullied loners, metalhead angels to anti-Semitic chess champions, the 20th annual Florida Film Festival makes up for its comparable lack of star wattage (Alan Arkin, the only true celebrity appearance announced at press time, backed out due to a mild car accident that was suspiciously only reported by Arkin's people) with an oddball collection of delightfully left-field films from all over the world. If any theme emerges out of a crop that includes several sappy cancer subplots, eco-whining on a micro level, kids spouting Chekhov, a signing chimp, samurais, elderly rappers and, well, trolls, it's the ballad of the misfit - a familiar and welcome return to Slacker-era film fests that celebrated not only fictional losers but the unlikely heroes behind the camera as well.
Speaking of loser outcasts, the state of Florida is represented heavily this year: food events like "Swamp Cabbage Culture, Sweet Tea and Pie: Florida Food Discussion and Tasting" highlight Florida's Southern-cooking roots, a panel discussion on our state's image in film and TV led by Magazine Company president Jim Clark and special Florida film showcases curated by LA Weekly film editor Scott Foundas, a former Floridian.
Of course, it all comes down to the films, and we've reviewed nearly all of them below. Due to space and time constraints, we were limited to features, but as always, there are plenty of short-film programs to soak in, including a competition category featuring this year's Oscar winner, God of Love. (Visit floridafilmfestival.com for the complete schedule.)
Only two festival films received perfect five-star ratings from OW this year - Stuff and Hesher - but most of the movies (and their misfits) are worth your consideration. Let us help you pare it down. -Justin Strout
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.