Diversity gets Reel at new Enzian festival 

click to enlarge Signature Move
  • Signature Move
Adult patrons of Maitland’s Enzian Theater have been waiting two decades for a new festival. That wait is finally over, as Maitland’s arthouse cinema is launching Reel Representation: Diversity in Film, February 17-18.

Better described as a mini-festival or showcase, the event will screen four movies (two narrative features and two documentary features), making it similar in size to the theater’s South Asian Film Festival and Central Florida Jewish Film Festival. The latter’s debut 20 years ago marked the last time the Enzian introduced a festival geared predominantly to adults. (KidFest and the Reel Short Teen Festival are targeted toward children and families.)
click to enlarge Bee Nation
  • Bee Nation
Each film highlights a particular ethnicity, culture, social issue and/or sexual orientation that has historically been underrepresented in cinema. For instance, Bee Nation (Saturday, 11 a.m.) is a documentary about indigenous families in Canada preparing for the inaugural First Nations Provincial Spelling Bee while Signature Move (Saturday, 1:30 p.m.) is an LGBT-themed dramedy set in multi-ethnic Chicago. Quest (Sunday, 11 a.m.), which The Village Voice called one of the best documentaries of 2017, follows a black family in North Philadelphia for more than a decade, offering an intimate portrait of a unique African-American story. And Woodpeckers (Sunday, 2 p.m.) is a drama that examines love – against all odds – inside a prison in the Dominican Republic. (The latter film was shot inside the actual jail and used real inmates for non-lead roles.)

Though this is the first year for this stand-alone event, it actually was born at last year’s Florida Film Festival.

“We had a very good response at last year’s Florida Film Festival, so we’re doing a separate showcase as like a lead-up event to this year’s Florida Film Festival,” Matthew Curtis, programming director, says.

Though Curtis cautions that it’s not an event that the Enzian is “100-percent committing to as a long-term project,” he says the theater is passionate about cinematic diversity.

“We feel obviously, with Enzian’s mission, that it’s important to highlight and represent different communities that are often underrepresented on local screens,” Curtis says. “These are all acclaimed films from other festivals that without this type of mini-festival or showcase would never get on screen here in Orlando.”
click to enlarge Woodpeckers
  • Woodpeckers
Perhaps the most significant part of the event is the chance for audiences to engage with the filmmakers. Jennifer Reeder, the director of Signature Move, will be in attendance and take questions following her film, while filmmakers associated with the other three movies will participate in Skype Q&A sessions.

A ticket to a single film costs $11, and a series pass is $40. (Enzian members are not allowed table reservations.) See Enzian.org for details.


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